Friday, April 27, 2012

The Canonical Me

Image: ©Marvel Comics
What is the optimal web page to use as your canonical link? Which one best represents you when sharing to others?

First impressions do count. Currently I am presenting a broad spread of online initial impressions. I have been thinking about how best to manage, streamline and rationalise these.

My thinking has always been that this blog functions as my canonical page. My personalised URL already points here. However it is important to regularly question my assumptions and correct course accordingly. Online conventions and mores never stand still. Eight years later, is a blog still the best front door into my online presence?

The common failing of all blogs (implicit in their structure) is that anyone arriving here for the first time is faced with the topmost entry of an eight-year stack of content. Depending on the nature of the particular post, the overall nature and intent of this blog is not always going to be as clear as it ought to be. There is no top-level overview or effective introduction. If this blog were not to serve as my default destination page in future, what are my alternative options?

The About.Me service attempts to address this issue, providing one simple landing page that contextualises and links to most of my online presences, Indeed my About.Me page is still the only link that I use in my Gmail footer. That page does update with my various feeds, but it has always seemed underwhelming to me for unquantifiable reasons. Most tellingly, I keep intending to go over there and freshen up the visuals and rewrite my bio, but I can never find any compelling reason to do so.

In many ways my Facebook page has become my most active and up-to-date web page. If only in aggregate because so many of my other web services log their activity into my Facebook feed. Even though it is pretty difficult to encounter someone without a Facebook account these days I am not comfortable putting that forward as my canonical page. I have never set out to accumulate a comprehensive collection of Facebook acquaintances, so the reach of my Facebook Friends List is not that broad.

My Twitter page is definitely not my canonical page any more either. These days I find that most of my friends are not tweeting as much as they used to. There is little conversation happening there amidst my circles. Personally, I am too busy to spend much time on the service, so my own tweets have become quite intermittent.

I can think of some people I know who could appropriately adopt their LinkedIn profile as their canonical page. While successfully presenting a comprehensive overview of my career achievements, I find that the mode of LinkedIn always feels somewhat historical to me. I do not get a sense that one can communicate the potential arising from current fields of interest and investigation. LinkedIn seems optimised to reassure people about what I already know that I can do, rather than engage with the risky improbabilities of the new.

Google resolutely intends for my Google+ profile to function as my canonical page. To date Google+ has yet to prove compelling to me, functioning more as an alternative RSS feed than as a social network. This highlights again how, regardless of my intentions for using any service, the amount of activity and communication by friends and peers is the ultimate driver of adoption levels.

What do you think? What URL do you use as your canonical web page to share?

UPDATE 30 April. Some people have pointed out that I missed one option here. To use my Klout profile, so that my canonical link can display my algorithmically-compiled authority on such topics as Branding, iPhone, Apps and er, Coffee.