Web Presence

What is Web Presence?

Components of web presence

Core Web Presence (CWP or Core)

My core web presence is the single place at which I put most of the important material that forms my presence on the web. It is my site, controlled by me, and mainly authored by me, though some people's CWP will include the ability for others to comment and add. It is probably best thought of as being a new way to describe the idea of having a 'home page' - a home on the Internet - which so dominated 1990s web discourse. It is not essential that this page be hosted on my own infrastructure and, indeed, most will be hosted on others. However it will be aligned with the identity of 'me'.

This site is, by definition, singular. While my presence may be distributed over many sites, in many ways, to have a 'web presence' demands this keystone site. The site which serves as my CWP is the central reference point in the 'web' of pages, links, comments, activities etc, which forms the totality of my web presence. Whatever else the CWP site does, this place defines the 'self' I am presenting on and through the web.

Extended Web Presence (EWP or Extended)

My extended web presence is formed by all of the places and sites that I also have significant or total control over and which contain material largely generated by my own activities, or activities with which I am closely associated. For individuals, the extended web presence may be quite small; for organisational identities, it is likely the extended web presence could be much larger. Crucial to this group of sites is capacity I have to control and manage the content of them. Anything which passes from me into another's control when web published does not belong in this component of web presence. The EWP must, for good technique, link to and from the CWP.

Whether some activity or communication I make is part of the core or extended web presence generally can be determined by the degree to which 'I' would still exist in webspace if it was deleted. If all of my extended presence were, for some reason, to disappear, but it was still clear who I was, what I did, and how I contributed to the Internet, then we can see a core web presence, not an extended presence. The EWP sites may include quite a bit of 'identifying' information but would not of themselves clearly identify and present 'me' without the links back to a CWP.

Linked Web Presence (LWP or Linked)

Linked web presence emerges from all of my contributions and activities at all the places where, though not controlled by me, there is some element of my online presence. These are 'linked' in the conceptual sense that these sites are actually part of someone else's core or extended web presence, not mine; the are also linked in the more technical sense that a good core web presence should link outwards to most of them.

Total Web Presence

Whether I have just a CWP, or CWP and extended and linked presence, I can be said to have 'web presence'. The totality of my web presence exists across and through all three, not just one or other. However, we would normally just speak of 'web presence' - the sense of 'total' only comes into play when we realise that all of what we do and are online becomes visible across a network of sites and places which differ in their character.

Examples

Individual academic

An individual academic might build up the following web presence:

  • Core Web Presence
    • Academic's home site, including CV, information about their activities and institutional location; small collection of key articles
  • Extended Web Presence
    • Collaborative site supporting their research where they are identified as one of the key authors
    • E-space repository on their university's library server of all their publications
    • information, activities publicised via their professional association's website, of which they are president
  • Linked Web Presence
    • Article they wrote for an online journal
    • comments they make on a colleague's research blog
    • listing of their membership of editorial board on a journal website
    • Amazon.com entry of their latest book

Department

The Department of Internet Studies might have the following web presence

  • Core Web Presence
  • Extended Web Presence
    • 4 publications which we will create for students to publish in as part of this project - these might be linked from the home page noted above but would be extended in that we own them, but others contribute to them
    • Public wiki that we intend to use for people to find out more about us, without being restricted by Curtin web architecture
    • Listing of all our links and references through delicious.com which is identified as belonging to 'netstudies'
    • Google group which colleagues can join to interact with us
  • Linked Web Presence
    • Commentary on a website about good undergraduate courses to study
    • the OUA website page which lists our degree
    • Blog entry by me as head of department listing PhD program opportunities

Network presence

Network presence is broader than web presence.

A web presence is essentially a component (albeit a very large and persistent one) of what we might term ‘network presence’ which includes non-web based elements and actions.

There are several components of this broader notion of presence. They include such things email (possession of an email address, and conscious use of email including promotion of this mechanism for contact), and also email-related functions such as email list membership and usenet usage; online real-time communications via chat or voice or cam, either in private or public modes (e.g MSN or IRC); telnet, ftp and similar activities involving remote manipulation of computers; private networking conducted over ‘the internet’; and linkages between mobile devices and the internet.

For example, my own network presence as it relates to my employment at Curtin in Internet Studies includes ownership, use of and dependence on:

  • Server-based file storage accessed regularly over network communications
  • Curtin email system including address, software, etc;
  • MSN activities involving students and others using the internet studies identity
  • Access to and use of network facilities such as WebCT which are not public, but which are shared
  • Access to and use of networked applications through Curtin such as Student One, particularly because my activities are monitored and therefore identifiably ‘me’.

Web Presence ideas and issues

Identity

One of the critical (perhaps THE critical) elements in understanding web presence is to recognise that it is a presentation of the self (Goffman amongst others). Identity, therefore, is central to both understanding and actually doing 'web presence'. In some cases a web presence is, directly, about the self: that is, it creates, maintains and expands the 'who am I' online. Yet even where the purpose is something different - for example, communication with a specific or general audience - the presence is still founded in 'the self' (with all of the caveats about real and alternative selves, multiply interpreted identities and the like). Indeed one reason for the term web presence is that it implies the linking together into a 'web' on the web of various elements and activities which have in common the 'you' who is their author, controller, etc. Some parts of that web might not privilege directly the maintenance of identity, but all parts are tied together through the self and as such constitute 'who' you are online.

Communication

Wb presence is all about communications - audience (who is addressed?), message (what is communicated?), authorship (who is communicating?), technique (how communicated?). Communications theory therefore underpins discussion of presence, even if that theory tends to be one-directional, not interactive (that said, so too is most communication online!)

Technique

In the theoretical sense of techne - a combination of a tool and the skill in using that tool. Web presence is as much a performance of the skill of web communications techniques as anything else - eg competence in technique marks out legitimacy.

Purpose

Purpose is important - what are the GOALS of creating a web presence? what are the goals of particular communications within that? Purpose has 'other' purposes: the purpose of a particular communication might be to present ideas of value to the world, but which also drives traffic to that website, and which thus generates the money which provides the financial basis for the communication in the first place which was only ever intended as a mechanism for 'being' in the online world.

Communication / Identity circularity

Circularity of concepts of identity and communication: to speak is to identify; identity founds speaking. If the purpose of your web presence is to communicate, then identifying who you are is an essential technique in achieving communication (with alignment between the kind of communication and the who you present); similarly, the web presence is of itself about identifying yourself and thus communicating is a key technique (you are a performance that needs visibility). the link between the two - identity and communication - is probably that a web presence involves implicit and explicit relations between you and those viewing you: the web presence's purpose is to serve as the actualisation of relations between self and others, with its character, content, and quality shaped by the expectations on either end of that relationship.

Overlapping web presence

Question: when is there a single 'web' (core, expanded, linked) distributed over many different locations and sites, and when are there two or more overlapping presences? The answer lies in the concept of identity (see above) - web identities are multiple and not necessarily completely separate; different identities can cluster around a single person, expressing different aspects. While from a simplistic standpoint, we can probably distinguish presences (eg look at whether there really are two distinct 'core' presences), and we can advise students about why this might be a good or bad idea, more conceptually we can see how the Internet continues to enable the expression and performance of 'versions' of the self (as well, of course, of entirely separate identities designed deliberately NOT to blur). There are probably more examples of overlap and multiplicity between individuals and organisations: for example, work I do for AoIR could also be seen as part of my web presence: it's on the AoIR site, but I link to it. Equally, some of my work as 'me' is also part of the Internet Studies website.

Web Presence and Assessment

Web Presence and Assessment

Web Presence and Knowledge Networking

One of the central goals of this project is to focus on knowledge networking: web presence is essential to that focus.

Net Studies Web Presence

Part of the web presence for the Department will be some 'publications' which serve as the location for students to contribute online knowledge production: Net Studies Publications

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