Frances Bell

home at last – for all the mes


Blogs- identity balance and meta homes

Since I retired from full-time employment two years ago, I have been planning to revamp my blog to become my personal web site.  I have had a quiet time for personal reasons but I am finding the new me and I’m ready to reach out a bit more.

One of the things you lose when leaving academia is the web presence you had from your institution.  Another is your institutional email. I couldn’t wait to leave that behind – all those boring emails but I have since found that a email is a key that gains entry to different services and resources. For example, I can have a Google Scholar id but it won’t appear in searches because my email is gmail and ‘Not verified’.


So my plan is as follows

  1. Revamp web site to give open access to what I have done – this means links or pre-print copies of as many papers as I can find.  Fortunately, the Salford repository still has some of my stuff. I am making progress with this.
  2. Broaden my view of ‘what I do’ to include the wider range of activities that I do now that I have more time – there will be knitting! My current thinking is to present these different things via the same blog, but organised so that people can choose where to go.
  3. Once the blog is in shape, move it over to my currently dormant domain

In pursuance of the second part of my plan, I decided to enrol my Twitter network to help me with the concepts and practicalities of having multiple mes on my web site/blog.

This morning I tweeted

Anyone have useful views/comments/examples of hosting multiple facets of identity on one blog? – will summarise responses in blog post

My lovely Twitter network came up trumps.  First, there was an interesting discussion about whether blogs and identity were relevant to each other.


For me, this raised the issue of the markedness of identity, and I have written a post about that .   Then, there was the question of how to balance one’s identity on blog(s) – and do we need a meta-home?

Then there were some very practical suggestions on how to deal with the question of one site – many identities arrangement.  Should that that one site, many blogs, or one blog, many mes.


francesbell • January 15, 2015

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  1. CogDog January 16, 2015 - 5:42 am Reply

    I gaze at this empty comment box, knowing it might flow into something worthy of a blog itself– so many fascinating doors you open so well with questions (I landed here via Audrey’s post on Re-building her blog).

    There are some important characteristics available here- most importantly is that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to create your own space, and that you are free to do it anyway you like. That sounds so obvious, but for people who do spend much of their experience residing in the digital space of employers, social media sites, it’s rather novel.

    A lot of people try to figure out what will best service some vaguely defined “audience”; my own designs and writing are aimed at an audience of one. Me. But I can see you might need some kind of archive site for previous work, and maybe a segment for your ongoing consulting, and maybe another for your own interests.

    There are approaches like separating out to categories, or how Audrey has done, by subdomains. You can do it easily in a hosting setup like Reclaim Hosting, or in a single wordpress site set up to do multi-site.

    Mine is less clean, somewhat split out, but somewhat interlaced. It’s not neatly cubby-holed, a reflection of me (I think)

    Also, we tend to have this idea of identity being a defined thing. It is shifting all the time. A student I interviewed in 2012 for a talk on (to me) a false dichotomy of online/not online framed it well, using her hands. She described her identity like an iris (the opening like a camera aperture) that opens and closes to different degrees depending on the context she is in. We show different aspects of our identity all the time, depending on the place and people around us. Why when we go online do we think there is a singular such thing? or that it is “built”? It is in the moment one thing and the next or previous, never quite exactly the same.

    I’ve had a blog under the same name since 2003, while working in a community college system in Phoenix, AZ. A funny thing happened- My URL was really long- something like and Steve Dembo emailed me in July 2005 and said that he was willing to buy me a shorter domain even just as a redirect (I know the exact date because I wrote a blog post about it). It was still redirecting to a server, but by January 5, 2006 I moved my site to a friend’s hosting platform; she (a brilliant sys admin) offered my free hosting.

    Moving my blog off of an institutional server was a fortunate event, because in April that following year I left for a job with the new media consortium.

    I’ve never had a firm split of work/personal. I’ve done both, a lot of meetings, projects, etc but also things like stories of my grandparents, my Mom’s passing. I am a whole person, not two halves. Rather than coming up with some arbitrary division, I feel as though it is modulating in time.

    Your situation, of course is different, and does call for some sorting. I generally gravitate to my as being my primary locus, but have a calling card site at cogdog,info (and a portfolio that needs building). My photography lives in flickr but also a gallery I run at I do have some blogging in a few places, if its more than a few posts, I use RSS syndication to repost in my main blog.

    I thank you for your story leading to some reading of “markedness”. Had I seen that kind of roster (and I think I have seem some systems do odd unbalance marking of individuals, but memory fails), it would have jumped out at me as rather wrong/stupid, but I wonder what I would have / could have done. There is a difference, maybe, because then, there was no way to take or share the issue to anyone beyond a small group. Monolithic, uncaring enterprise systems cannot be so translucent anymore (I hope). What I think is interesting, and the parallels I hear Audrey describe, is a difference between being “marked” by a system, and what you are aiming to do, to “mark” or “unmark” or “re-mark” (like reclaim) yourself.

    And were I able to comment on Audrey’s post (not a post because not a blog?) is that the limit to reverse chronology is not a fixed one. I do many WordPress sites with alternative arrangements (e.g. my photo blog does random ordering on the front).

    It will be a grand journey for you! (I like the “Itinerant Scholar” title on your moo card)

    • francesbell January 16, 2015 - 4:45 pm Reply

      I have taken some time to reply as your comment )post) is so rich that I will be returning to it frequently as I work on my site/blog. Thanks for bringing it to my home:)
      First, I was trying to remember where I first ‘met’ you online. I think it was in 2006/7 and I know that the topic that triggered me to respond to you was you talking about a trip to Iceland. I have family there (brother, sister-in-law, nieces, nephews,great-nieces great-nephews and we have visited many times since 2007 (my first trip was 1972).
      Did you have a blog at elgg around that time? or some link.
      Anyway, I was struck by the personal note that you brought to your blog – especially the photos and the stories about your mother. I shed a quiet tear when you lost her.
      I will use your suggestions and my viewing of your site(s) when I work on the blog.
      I like what you say about ‘marking’ yourself – it was only yesterday tha I really thought about the situation of ‘marking’ yourself in a context where many others see themselves as ‘unmarked’ or default. Somehow that is simultaneously hopeful and dispiriting but that is life I suppose. Institutional change is very difficult to achieve but there is hope for me when I see young black activism in your country and initiatives like #hellomynameis
      Thanks Alan.

      • CogDog January 16, 2015 - 5:27 pm Reply

        I’m noting recently a number of people I’ve been connected to first online where I cannot remember exactly where/when that happened (most recently with Nancy White). I am starting to take that as a positive signal; it means we have a long trail of interaction that fades off on the horizon. Others for whom I recall that point are (a) people I’ve not had that many connections with; or (b) people who left a rather sour impression. It might be worth some pondering.

        I do remember your comments when I visited Iceland (that was November 2008); I was working at NMC then.

        But there is a shred of memory too back to a time when we interacted when I was working at the Maricopa system in Phoenix (before April 2006) and it seems it was something outside of my edtech circles; some local activists? Or maybe it was some of the folks that were part of the Sedona meetings Paul Elsner ran?

        As if it mattered!

        I truly adore the inspiring work Kate Granger is doing, whom I found out via another Kate (Bowles) I have yet to meet who I connected with through the writings of Audrey Watters and Richard Hall, those who I connected with via… it can feel like staring into infinity to trace this out.

    • francesbell January 16, 2015 - 5:21 pm Reply

      Just adding this link here to a post from Doug Belshaw on using Github to set up web site

  2. jennymackness January 16, 2015 - 10:49 am Reply

    Just a quick comment here Frances. I’m wondering why your gmail address on Google Scholar isn’t recognised, when my btopenworld address is, i.e. my email address also isn’t an institutional one.

    And also to say that I have also been chewing over this problem for at least a couple of years now. My approach, at least up until now, has been not to include anything personal on my blog, or at least very rarely to post anything personal – personal in the sense of not being related in any way to work I am doing.

    But I enjoy writing and as I as I slowly work less, i.e. on contracted work, and like you spend more time doing those things that I always wished I had more time for when I was working flat out, I have wondered whether I should write about these activities on my blog. I am still dithering over this 🙂

  3. francesbell January 16, 2015 - 11:25 am Reply

    Please dither with me Jenny. I will be really grateful for any wise words you throw my way as I redo my blog, Flickr, etc.
    Regarding G+ – it’s a bit of a mystery. I was hoping that Scholar might have changed recently so checked and I still can’t add my email address – perhaps it’s that I formerly used my institutional email. Here’s what happened when I tried again

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