24 Oct

just katiedavis

For five years, I’ve had two Twitter accounts: one private account (@katiedavis) that I have used to tweet about both my personal and professional lives, and one public account (@katiedatwork) that I use pretty much exclusively for work (and the occasional rant about about poor customer service).

When I first signed up for Twitter, I made my account private because I wanted to know who was following me and I was a bit hesitant about this brave new world, where people were living out their lives so publicly, one coffee tweet at a time. Because I wore my heart on my Twitter sleeve, it was important to me that I connected with individuals, that I knew who was seeing my content in their feed. My content has often been intensely personal. I have tweeted extensively about people in my life, including my family, as well as big life events and their impact. I tweeted as I waited anxiously in the hospital foyer the day my niece and nephew came into the world, and I have continued to tweet about them ever since. My Twitter archive is like a baby book, full of milestones, tales of our adventures, and all the ridiculously amusing things they have said. I tweeted about house hunting and buying and renovating my first house. I tweeted about grief. I tweeted about my parents’ divorce. I tweeted from friends’ weddings. I tweeted my way through the last five years, reflecting on my life, sense making my experiences, recounting stories, and developing friendships. My private Twitter account has been my lifestream, a mish mash of personal and professional content, and increasingly, reflecting the fluidity of my personal boundaries between work and life.

After a year or so of tweeting, I decided I needed a second identity. I created a separate public account I could use to interact with my students and to tweet about events or professional topics. I had a personal policy of not allowing students to follow my private account (ridiculous idea, by the way) and I wasn’t keen on interacting with organisations using my private account. My private account was was like my lounge room, where I vegged out in my PJs, and I wanted to know who was hanging out with me. It didn’t take me long to realise I don’t actually mind having my students follow my private account, and in fact, that it could help with building rapport. I think it’s important for students to understand that we are people first and academics second.

Increasingly, having a private account has frustrated me. It stops me from participating in conversations. It means I have used my ‘work’ account to tweet about things that I would have preferred to tweet about from my other account. It is annoying to explain. It is frustrating to maintain. It has fragmented my online identity.

So I have been thinking for some time about killing off my public account and making my private account public. But it’s not really as simple as going public, because the internet has a long memory. Even if I change my tweeting practices, pull back on the personal content, add a layer of ambiguity to my tweets about the kids in particular, I still have an enormous archive of very personal Twitter content following me around. I am personally unfazed by this because I don’t tweet stuff that I wouldn’t just come out and say. But I am conscious that I’ve contributed to other people’s online identities by interacting with them or tweeting about them and that has made me cautious about making my account public.

Last week, inspired by Kim, I started deleting tweets (after I downloaded my archive, of course). Twitter only allows you to access the 3200 most recent tweets you’ve made. So I started working backwards, deleting 3200 tweets at a time using a couple of different apps. I managed to delete about 12,000 and that’s the extent of my visible tweeting history. I think.

So now I’m just katiedavis. And I like it.


08 Jun

meet the katies: a twitter directory of kat*e davises

I regularly get tweeted by people I don’t know on topics I know nothing about because I have a really common name.

In fact, my name isn’t just common. It’s famous. None of that fame belongs to me, but I do often get mistaken for the more interesting Katie Davises out there.

But first, a confession: my name is not *actually* Katie Davis. It’s really Kate Davis. My family and friends call me Katie though. A term of endearment kind of thing that has crossed over from personal life to professional life. I don’t mind being called Katie. In fact I like it.

Which is kind of ironic because as a teenager and in my early 20s, I grew to be really defiant about my name being Kate. Because people always ask what it’s short for. Which is annoying. My standard response of “It’s just plain Kate” invariably gets met with a reply of “There’s nothing plain about you!” (not because there’s nothing plain about me, but because people are nice).

As a teenager, my dad clued in on how frustrated I got with the “just plain Kate” explanation, so he started calling me Katherine, and still does today. It’s even more difficult to fend off the “What’s Kate short for?” questions when your own parent is standing there calling you Katherine. Not that there’s anything wrong with the name Katherine. Or Kathryn. Or Catherine. In fact I know some pretty awesome specimens of Kathrineness. But I’m not one of them.

I did a round of reply tweets the other day to a bunch of people who’d tweeted me thinking I was another Katie Davis, which led to me tweeting about my parents’ lack of inventiveness when they named me, which lead to a declaration that I would write a “meet the Katies” post.

Incidentally, it’s not easy to let the poor misguided tweeters know they’ve got the wrong Katie Davis because my account is private (by virtue of it being the place where I just blurt shit out without thinking. Actually, I also do this in physical spaces, with far more abandon than I do online. Even when I resolve to say nothing on a topic or in a particular forum, I just can’t help myself). Anyway, I digress. Redirecting these tweeters means I have to tweet from my public account to explain that I am in fact also @katiedavis but not the Katie Davis they think I am.

Tweet with text: dear my parents in 1982. please give me a unique first name. make something up. common is going to be problematic for me. kthxbai.

So here, belatedly, is the “meet the Katies” post.

And lucky for me, one of the other Katie Davises has already started the list. This is an update with the addition of Twitter handles for the Katies, and a list of some interesting Kates, too.

Some of the most interesting Katie Davises out there include

  • @katieinuganda is a 24 year old mother to 13 adopted Ugandan girls. She lives in Uganda with her girls and runs a ministry that provides education, employment, food and more in Ugandan communities. Wow.
  • @KatieDavisBurps is an author and illustrator. She also blogs and podcasts about children’s literature, creates resources for authors, and makes book trailers. She’s also the Katie Davis who maintains the original list of Katie Davises.
  • @katiedavisawake is an inspirational speaker and spiritual teacher.
  • @katiedavismusic is an awesome singer/songwriter.
  • @katiebda is an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington iSchool. She researches around adolescents and new media. There are some really interesting synergies between what this Katie Davis does and what I do.

And those are just the Katie Davises. Then there are the Kate Davises (although interestingly I very rarely get mistaken for these Kat*es).

Lucky for me, I tend to be a reasonably early adopter of new and shiny things. This means I’ve been able to grab my preferred handle (katiedavis) or variations on it (e.g. katiedavispins on Pinterest) around the web. I did end up with a less than perfect Gmail address, despite getting an invite in the very early days, where they were so highly sought after that people were selling them on eBay. As a result, I’ve lost email, and I’ve gained email – and I’ve done a fair bit of “Hi, you sent me this thing and it’s pretty confidential and I am not the person you thought I was”. It’s also increasingly tricky to make a common name work across platforms that integrate. For example, if a friend wants to tag me in an Instagram pic and have it surface in my tweet stream, they end up spamming the lucky person who nabbed katiedavis for their Instagram account.

So there you go, interwebs. A lesson in why you should make sure at least one part of your kid’s name is unusual. And also the reason why I will be claiming my one-day-child’s name all over the web before they’re an hour old.

30 posts in June: 7/30