© 2013 LyannV

Identity Crisis

Well, there you have it – a problem I’m going to have to face whether I like it or not:

At this point it is customary to blame the banksters. Or at least the politicians. But there is another group partly responsible for the parlous state in which we find ourselves: the digi-heads of Silicon Valley who told us everything could be kinda free. And easy. In some virtual paradise.

But it’s not lovely being asked to work for free, whether you are 18 or 48. On the popular free app known as Facebook, the great music writer Barney Hoskyns put up a manifesto that struck home: he asked “freelance content providers” – be they actors, writers, musicians or photographers – to withdraw from unpaid labour. (I did that a while back – except, of course, for causes I believe in.)

Governments play up the idea that a digital future creates jobs rather than eats them up. Culturally, there is now a fantasy world of start-ups and blogs and YouTube TV where a very few people manage to make money but most work simply for “experience”.

We cannot all be freelancers for ever. Freelance work, like interning, is fine if you have the funds to manage without a regular income. That is, if you are already wealthy. But the digital economy operates as a kind of sophisticated X Factor. Someone will make it, sure. For more than 15 seconds even, maybe. But most won’t. “…[T]he internet may destroy the middle classes, the people who can’t outspend the elite. And without that middle group, we cannot maintain a democracy.”

Musicians and artists and journalists are “canaries in the mineshaft of this new economy. Who will pay them? “Is this the precedent we want to follow for our doctors and lawyers and nurses and everybody else? Because, eventually, technology will get to everybody.”

This comes at a time when one of my personal blogs – my most successful in terms of readership – has maxed out its free space…I either have to pay for more space, or let the blog rest as-is. I’m leaning toward the latter.

The blog in question is a photo blog, and while I do know that my photographic skills need polishing, I have also become increasingly skittish about posting my photos online because I know some of them are good enough that somebody (hopefully, me) could actually make money from them. I’d rather find a way to share my photos in a way that’s going to make me money, instead of just giving them away.

And money is a troublesome issue. Maybe I’m just a hippie at heart, but I really do wish the world didn’t revolve around money (or the lack of it). I wish I could make a living with “personal blogging”, and I know I’m not alone in this sentiment. I wouldn’t be in the degree program I’m in, if I didn’t feel this way – or if I didn’t believe it is somehow still possible.

Which brings me to another difficulty: what, exactly, is Journalism, and where do I fit into that definition? Another article I came across brought to the forefront of my mind something I have found myself doing, at least for my coursework – aggregating content. I have wondered, if I am ‘simply’ writing the transitions between elements I have pulled from a variety of sources and putting them into a ‘story’ I am hoping will draw readers – am I really writing an article? Am I really an author? Does this make me a journalist? What happens when other people begin doing this to my content?

It’s about something that all of us here in the content sweatshop deal with all the time: having your work repackaged and posted on another site, who thereby benefit from it financially through selling ads on something they had no part in making. In other words, new media.

I’ll admit, I am confused. “New Media” is beginning to take on an entirely different meaning than what I set out to learn. And it doesn’t help that I seem to have a completely mixed-up online identity. When I began the New Media Journalism MA program, I thought I would separate my personal and professional identities, and I set out to do just that in the first weeks of the program. Then, I thought it would be better to stick with just the identity I have developed as a personal blogger, and so I set out to pull myself into just that one ‘self’ – LyannV

Now, I find that two identities might actually work better, as one seems to off-put the audience of the other. It is an awful lot of work to maintain both, which really was at the bottom of my decision to have just a single identity. I thought it might also be a lot of work for people to go back and forth between the two – ‘work’ in the sense of confusing to the point of just not following either of my online identities.

I’m doing my best to streamline the two identities, as they really seem to have become inseparable. My hope is that LyannV and Lyann Valadez will become synonymous without having separate Twitter, Google+ and YouTube accounts. I’m choosing LyannV as the basis for everything on those accounts, although obviously professionally it’s going to have to be Lyann Valadez at least for writing.

And, as each of my personal blogs reaches the end of its useful (free) life, I am going to leave it at that.

On this blog, I am going to explore all the personal issues that have gone into the personal blogs which will eventually be shelved (as if that is an appropriate term for an online publication).

I have another blog, Focus, which is developing from my coursework. That will be my journalism portfolio. One other domain name is waiting in the wings, and eventually that will be the blog I use professionally.

Identity crisis? I am me, and that’s that.

bright sideWhat to Believe

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