Andy Vaughn

Cumulative self

Never before in history has it been so easy to quantify and archive your actions. With the digital streams of Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Flickr, and other social media, anyone is able to display a history of their “connections” or friends, conversations with these friends, record ideas and thoughts as they happen, and share pictures of non-digital events.

In SAMBA’s recent discussion of “Is College Obsolete?” Alex Krupp took a look at the transition from a small-town economy where actions trumped credentials, to a growing network economy where credentials where used in representation of actions.

One hundred years ago college didn’t matter. Maybe for bragging rights, but not for getting a job.

With the cyclical ebb and flow of our economical structure, it appears that credentials are again being put wayside to the result of a Google search. When hiring tutors for her business, my wife Stacey checks out her potential hires on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Google. If pictures of them come up with beer-in-hand, passed out on couches, or otherwise on the receiving end of a beer-bong, her image of them weighs heavily on their chances of getting hired. Is this justified? I think so; with a business that counts on tutors to be role-models and motivators towards positive behavior, whether in academic studies, sports, or otherwise patchwork-subjects, her employees need to represent an ideal, a mentor, or at least some sort of a road that parents can count-on for steering their kids in the right direction. Having a mentor who uses blatant profanity and feels it is an ideal image to the globe to have a singular finger as their flag-of-pride, is not the type of representation she wants to employ.

So, now that credentials are being thrown down the drain, what do we do? Foster the relationships you do have. Remember that your actions and messages are archived and leave a digital-trail – hopefully a digital trail that you want to leave behind. Be transparent, honest, and professional, but remember that you are living in the world’s biggest fishbowl. And your next employer is looking in when your name comes up. Are your pants down mooning back?

Posted by Andy Vaughn on April 18, 2009

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