I have been thinking for a while now about a post on Design Research about the problems with Facebook’s attempt to monetize its social network assets (that’s us) by making us into unwitting viral marketers. The author, Sam Ladner, reminds us of Erving Goffman’s notion of “the front”:
Using the theatre as a metaphor Goffman argued that we actually “perform” multiple selves. Each place we go has a “front” that we learn to incorporate. A front has a wardrobe, a setting, a decor, make-up, a script and stage direction.
Ladner argues that
Facebook’s Beacon didn’t work because it forces people to use multiple fronts AT THE SAME TIME.
In my view, even without Beacon, Facebook has that propensity. And so does blogging, particularly this kind of blogging where some of us are attempting to integrate blogging about our research and blogging about whatever else we want to blog about, including ourselves. We can choose what we blog about, which is a lot better than having our online purchases broadcast to everyone on our social network (surely they thought how embarrassing that could be?). But if we are going to blog in our real names about real things then there will be a collision of fronts.
Sam Ladner has pinpointed for me the issue that I felt but wasn’t articulating so well, which has been holding me back from “research blogging”. Now all I have to do is work out how to use multiple fronts at the same time without worrying. No – I have to start enjoying it!