How focused is your online image when someone Googles you? Is your Web branding clear to prospective clients? If your interests are diverse, you may create some confusion. For example:
John Joseph Bachir is a programmer. He's also an amateur filmmaker. He has a blog and is involved in a series of software projects, some of which he runs. He sometimes records an audio show about odd Wikipedia entries. He even submitted a photo of penguins to Cute Overload, a website overrun with cuddly animals that make you think "Soooo cute!"
An article in Christian Science Monitor "Do you need a Web publicist?" (from which the above paragraph was taken) describes a new service allowing you to organize and even explain all the places you are found in cyberspace.
Fred Stutzman, a PhD student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, came up with ClaimID (www.claimid.com) after studying Facebook, the college social networking site.
Mr. Stutzman says he was "blown away" by the amount of personal information available in Facebook profiles. Then one day, he heard a professor saying she was embarrassed by some of the results she got when she did an online search using her name, even though the information was true.
This led Stutzman to conclude that proper management of one's online identity will be a "major problem" in the future. ClaimID is not so much a solution to that problem as it is "a guess ... and a research question," he says. This free service has about 10,000 active users and tries to address two popular concerns: distinguishing yourself from people who share your name and putting the available information in context.
. . .
When he looked at what came up when he searched his own name online, Stutzman found 1999 computer-coding work posted on the UNC website, but no context for it. If an employer had found this information, he says, they would have scoffed at him. ClaimID lets Stutzman say, "Yes, this is about me," and add a disclaimer, "this was written in 1999, when I was just starting to write code."
I signed up for a free ClaimID account. Now I can give my online self some context. You may not hear from me for a while; I think this project is going to take some time. If you Google me, you will see the challenge I face.