The Shrinking Gap Between Personal & Professional Space Online

The BBC recently published a video on how the internet is blurring the social boundaries between our personal and professional lives seen online. It brings to attention how much of ourselves is being broadcast on the internet and how a younger generation’s comfort with these applications brings inherent risk as well.

As 2009 comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting a great deal on how social media is bridging a shrinking gap between my personal and professional space online, and what it means to me.

Adopting Posterous
A few weeks ago I started using Posterous, a blogging platform that allows users to post photos, video, etc through email. With a simple interface and design, I’m finding Posterous quite addictive as a social media application.

But Posterous has made me realize how easy it really is to connect the personal and professional sides of my online activities. One of the features of the application is in being able to auto-post across multiple social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, etc. I don’t know how comfortable I am with it.

While I do intend to continue using Posterous, I’ve decided not to auto-post on LinkedIn as example. I also removed my Twitter feed from LinkedIn as well, since I use Twitter and Posterous for personal and professional information; and have decided to keep LinkedIn exclusively professional.

Social Media Connectivity
Virtually every social media application provides some way to connect with another site. Digg users can login and share via Facebook; LinkedIn profiles display blog posts and Twitter feeds; and Twitter updates can be imported or integrated almost everywhere.

Now that Google and Bing are bringing real-time search into prominence, social media applications take on even greater significance in providing exposure to our lives online. Do all of these connected channels promote the message you really intended?

My Personal & Professional Space Online
The snapshot below represents social media sites that I am or intend to be more active in, organized based on how I choose to use them. Aside from these networks, I’ve taken note of approximately eighty other sites I use or have profiles in as well; and defined how I want to use them.

What The Shrinking Gap Means To Me
While one can argue that all of this connectivity and transparency is a good thing, I hold some reservation. If anything, to me it means that there must be more personal accountability in how and what I do online.

In addition, defining personal and professional objectives with each social media site is important, along with how a site’s privacy policies, terms of use, and user settings may impact those objectives.

What’s Your Opinion?
As social media gains greater acceptance in the mass market, and new applications provide an easier way to cross-pollinate platforms and integrate services, how comfortable are you with these new capabilities?

Do you draw a line between what you’re willing to share personally and professionally online? I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions via the comments below.

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