Where next for 23 Things?

For quite a while now I have been wondering whether 23 Things has had its day. With each programme that I run – and I’ve done four now – I feel myself falling out of love with it. Whether it’s that I’ve talked about it too much, or that I’ve reached the limit of where I can develop it, I don’t know, but for me 23 things seems to have run its course.

Then yesterday I attended a talk by Hamish Macleod from the University of Edinburgh. His topic was broadly how we can blend technologies into our teaching practice. Given the announcement earlier this week that Edinburgh was to become the first UK university to join coursera the focus of the talk soon turned to MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses). If you’re not familiar with the concept of MOOCs watch this video:

So, the main features of a MOOC are that it is:

  • a course
  • open
  • participatory
  • distributed
  • a networked, life-long learning opportunity

Now don’t all those things sound like the features of 23 things too?

In a recent talk I described 23 Things as:

  • an online learning programme
  • free
  • self-paced
  • inclusive

So what about the massive part? Well, with over 1000 participants* from around the world, CPD23 is a great example demonstrating that a 23 things programme can be massive too.

In the space of 24 hours I find my disillusion with 23 Things has disappeared. And all it took was to think of the programme in the context of MOOCs. I’m now more enthusiastic about developing the programme than ever. This is not the end, it is a new beginning.

* across the 2011 and 2012 programmes

Creating and monitoring your online identity

€œI€™m Stuart Baggs €˜The Brand€™ €“ I€™ve got a certain type of charisma.€

Whenever I think of personal brands Stuart Baggs, a recent participant on The Apprentice, pops in to my mind. Unfortunately this has a negative effect – what I see in Stuart is not charisma, but arrogance. Therefore linking the two makes me really dislike the idea of a personal brand. Instead I prefer to call it my online identity.

Jo’s post for this week’s thing asks us to consider four elements of our identity, and I will address each one in turn below.

Name used
When I first started out online I was very wary of putting my real name to anything. I had a pseudonym that I used for most accounts for around 5 years. This however was all pre-professional, that is when I was still at school or university. Since I have started creating more of a professional online presence I have started using my own name, usually in the form ekcragg. As a professional I want the work I do to be easily linked back to me. I think I’m pretty good at monitoring what I publish about myself online and therefore I’m not worried about potential employers/colleagues being able to find me online.

I use a range of photos on the different accounts I have. I change my photo quite often but it’s always one of me so that I could be easily recognised in real life. My hair is the key to my identity, as those who followed #quiffcomp will attest, and so I try to choose photos that show this feature.

Professional/personal identity
I’ve written a blog post on this topic fairly recently. In my online networks I find that I’m drawn to people more if they present an all-round image of themselves. In my professional networks I want to see that the people I interact with have got personalities and interests outside of libraries and that’s something I try to create through my own profiles too.

Visual brand
When thinking about the visual element of my identity I try to keep things pretty clean and bright. I’m a simple being and I try to reflect this in the designs I use. In terms of imagery I tend to gravitate towards type and/or representations of anything digital (to link with the title of my blog).

“The name of a man is a numbing blow from which he never recovers.”
— Marshall McLuhan

When it comes to the vanity search I have seen a lot of comments from fellow participants lamenting how their common names disrupt what information can be found about them on the web.

I’m lucky that there don’t appear to be too many other Emma Craggs, and those that are out there don’t have much of a connected online identity. This means that when I searched for myself on Google I got a set of results where my accounts on LinkedIn and Twitter, plus this blog appear in the top 5 results. Further down are a couple of articles I’ve written and my contact details on my institution’s website. Interestingly, there are slight differences when you search google.com rather than google.co.uk. The only erroneous link is to a random tween’s account on Facebook.


For thing 2 I looked at a handful of blogs from the list of participants on Delicious. How did I choose which blogs from the many to go to? Well, it’s all in the name for me. I did however try not to go to too many UK blogs, as I see the global reach of this programme a great benefit. I also tried not to pick too many academic librarians.

Of the 20 or so blogs I looked at I commented on four and I will be subscribing to their RSS feeds to follow their progress through the programme. They are:

And finally, I will leave you with a picture that sums up exactly how I feel about comments: