Go Ahead. Expose Yourself. But, Make Sure It Works for You

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There was a time when an introvert could proudly look you in your eyes and declare, “I am a private person.” Well. Nobody could get away with that today.

Why not? The semantic web.

What is the Semantic Web

What is the “semantic web”? It depends on who you ask. OnToText.com arguably credits Sir Tim Berners-Lee with inventing the “World Wide Web.” Berners-Lee’s vision was to build “relationships between data in various formats and sources, from one string to another, helping build context and creating links out of those relationships” (“Fundamentals: What is Semantic Technology? – Ontotext,” n.d.) When writing for TechTarget.com, Rouse defined the semantic web as a concept that the Web could be more responsive to the needs of its users by becoming more intelligent and intuitive (Rouse, 2006).

But, it appears that W3C came closest to the actual meaning and ramifications of the semantic web. W3C describes it as a database of “stacked” information that enables “computers to do more useful work and to develop systems that can support trusted interactions over the network.” W3C wrote the semantic web enables people to create data stores on the Web, build vocabularies, and write rules for handling data. The intent is to link dates, titles, parts, and properties of information with other data available over the Internet. Web analytics organize the data according to standardized “vocabularies” capable of responding to queries using systematized reasoning and logic algorithms. Virtual repository warehouses store the data on cloud servers accessible worldwide to facilitate easy retrieval to “improve collaboration, research and development, and innovation” between Internet users (“Semantic Web – W3C,” n.d.).  In other words, W3C defines the semantic web for what it is: a personal privacy killer.

Digital Tracks

So. What’s to be done?

The truth is – not much. That horse long ago left the barn. Look no further than the fact that you become inundated with new car promotions from dealerships shortly after you Googled “new cars” last week or tourism agencies begin emailing or cold-calling you within days after you used the Internet to check the cost of round-trip airfare to Peru. You are leaving digital tracks that were captured and retrieved from the semantic web. The Web knows how to find you and will shamelessly tell the world without hesitation what you have been up to.

Making Social Media Work for You and Your Career

Peters (2008) appears to have seen the risk the semantic web posed to personal privacy almost a decade ago.  While acknowledging the Internet as the innovation that wrested control of information from the traditional gatekeepers to make it available to anyone interested in retrieving it, Peters noted nine years ago there would be a price to be paid one day.  It appears Peters foresaw the danger of allowing “currents of personal information” to flow freely around the world at a click of the mouse. Further, Peters studied videos, posts, sites, pictures, and stories he found on MySpace, Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Del.icio.us, Mix, Sphinn and other social media website which led him to instead label Web 2.0, the semantic web moniker, as a “social creature” capable of bringing ruin and destruction to its victims.

Peters saw this as a paradox that challenged old idioms that warn one should not reveal he thinks more highly of himself than he ought.   But, Peters also acknowledges you cannot ignore social media’s role in today’s business and employment environment. What you post now can make or break you. So, you should post with caution concerning how and where your posts will be seen.

Peters tried to prepare us to use social media wisely by providing tips for maintaining relevance, professionalism, and civility while using professional social media sites like LinkedIn for self-promotion. Peters advises you included:

  • Avoid talking only about yourself. Make your reason for posting higher than your need to be seen;
  • Do not pick battles you can only fight in cyberspace (Don’t feed the trolls.);
  • Set limits for how often, when, and what you post;
  • Avoid casual references to people you know in an attempt to lend false creditability to yourself. (Don’t name-drop without permission);
  • Commit to full disclosure and avoid creating fake impressive LinkedIn profiles that misrepresent you and your skills; and
  • Contain your posts to social media websites that attract the types of viewers you want to whom you want to engage (Everybody doesn’t care what you think.) (Peters, 2008).

LinkedIn: Designed With Business In Mind

Jenkins (2013) appears to agree with Peters and takes the warnings a step further. Jenkins recommends you contain your professional profile and separate it from your personal life by building a strong LinkedIn profile.

Jenkins noted that, while personal contacts might smirk at your attempts to promote yourself on Google+, Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn aggressively advocates that its users build their professional network by making themselves as attractive as possible through self-promotion. But, Jenkins also warned it is still important to establish basic rules for your LinkedIn promotions (Jenkins, 2013).

Jenkins advises that you should ensure your company’s LinkedIn page puts your best foot forward. Jenkins wrote your profile should:

  • Contains necessary explanations regarding your brand, mission, and the services you provide;
  • Only offer current and relevant information such as product or service updates, pictures, links to new products and services;
  • Cleary identifies your career or business opportunity  interest categorized and aligned with keywords or phrases;
  • Contains professional cover images and profile photos;
  • Is uncluttered and organized in a manner that makes it easy for viewers to find what they need;
  • Is designed to attract and engages targeted viewers interested in trade news or information; and
  • Is not so embellished that you are exposed as a fraud of charlatan as soon as a follower requests additional details regarding your history or qualifications (Jenkins, 2013).

This seems to indicate Jenkins preference of LinkedIn for professionals interested in social media self-promotions as opposed to using Facebook or Twitter, which are often linked to pictures of that wild night before your sister’s wedding.

Miss Netiquette (2013) provided advice intended to ensure you understand the power of using social media for self-promotion.  Miss Netiquette identifies the risks of overexposed of yourself on personal social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. Miss Netiquette warns it has now become standard practice for prospective employers, collaborators or clients to research you on the Internet before closing the deal (Miss Netiquette, 2013). What would they find?  You are leaving digital tracks on the semantic web.  Take for granted that, if you are not careful, that key prospect might see something about you, your friends or your lifestyle you don’t want them to see.

Jennie’s Perspective

Yes.  Privacy appears to be a thing of the past, and the one thing you can be sure of is that people may Google you as soon as they hear your name. Therefore, in my opinion, make sure when you are Googled (and you will be), viewers land on your well organized, informative professionally designed and branded LinkedIn page when they do.


Fundamentals: What is Semantic Technology? – Ontotext. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ontotext.com/knowledgehub/fundamentals/semantic-web-technology/ 

Jenkins, J. (2013, August 4). Use LinkedIn for Shameless Self-Promotion | Thrive Internet Marketing. Retrieved from https://thriveagency.com/news/linkedin-social-media-tips/

Miss Netiquette. (2013, August 10). Miss Netiquette’s guide to shameless social media self-promotion. Retrieved from https://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/miss-netiquettes-guide-to-promoting-yourself-on-social-media-without-driving-your-friends-insane/

Peters, M. (2008, February 19). The Paradox of Self-Promotion with Social Media. Retrieved from https://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/paradox-self-promotion-social-media

Rouse, M. (2006, November). What is Semantic Web? – Definition from WhatIs.com. Retrieved from http://searchmicroservices.techtarget.com/definition/Semantic-Web

Semantic Web – W3C. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.w3.org/standards/semanticweb/

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