Who owns you, anyway?


It’s a much different question than “who owns your reputation?”

John Wooden suggested one should “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

So who owns your character?

You do.

Who owns your reputation?

Well, that’s a little more tricky, and mostly because most people continue to confuse reputation and character.

Chapter 7 of Dan Gilmor’s book Mediactive is titled “Owning Your Online Presence”, here are some of the points included within:

Who we are, at least in a public sense, is the sum of what we do, what we say and what others say about us. You can’t control what others say. However, you can absolutely control what you do and say.

Your presence can take many forms in a social-media world. It can be a Facebook page. It can be Flickr photos or YouTube video uploads.  Or Twitter tweets. Or your own blog. Or several of these, and perhaps some of the many other options.

In the digital world, just as in the physical one, you are partly who others say you are.  This is why you need to be at least one—and preferably the most prominent—of the voices talking about you.

You can’t allow others to define who you are, or control the way you are perceived. This is especially true today for people in the public eye, but the more we do online the more it’ll be true for the rest of us, too.

We’re moving into new territory here. We’ve previously discussed the value of joining online conversations. Now I want to recognize that those conversations may, in some respects, be about you and your ideas.  You need to know what people may be saying about you or your work.  And you need to respond when necessary, especially when you need to clarify or correct what someone has said.

Being public in this increasingly public world means participating. It means recognizing that what you do online influences the way others see you. This goes under many names: reputation, brand, influence and the like. For our purposes I’ll call it “brand,” but I’m not using the word in a commercial or marketing sense; rather, it’s about how you appear to the world beyond your family and closest friends, and what you can do to be seen as you truly are.

Interestingly enough Gilmor doesn’t mention defamation suits or libel as a component of protecting ones reputation.

Instead his suggestion is an increase in participation, and he is not alone.

Similar solutions were presented in several of the keynotes at the Building and Protecting Reputation 2010 conference held February 24-25, held last year in Scottsdale, Arizona: http://www.communitelligence.com/content/ahpg.cfm?spgid=380&full=1

Malcolm Knox ‘s 2008 book titled “Reputation” is available for pre-order here:

Fellow author Daniel J. Solove’s book is title  “the future of reputation : gossip, rumor, and privacy on the internet”, you can read his entire book free online here: http://docs.law.gwu.edu/facweb/dsolove/Future-of-Reputation/

Here is an overview of the chapters in his book:

  • Chapter 1. Introduction: When Poop Goes Primetime
  • Chapter 2. How the Free Flow of Information Liberates and Constrains Us
  • Chapter 3. Gossip and the Virtues of Knowing Less
  • Chapter 4. Shaming and the Digital Scarlet Letter
  • Chapter 5. The Role of Law
  • Chapter 6. Free Speech, Anonymity, and Accountability
  • Chapter 7. Privacy in an Overexposed World
  • Chapter 8. Conclusion: The Future of Reputation

There is so much of value here, I find myself reading and re-reading several of Solove’s points.

Technology and culture writer Clive Thompson pointed out that “Online, your reputation is quantifiable, findable and totally unavoidable.”

Especially by yourself.

Start owning up.


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