I obviously use a pseudo, as do many of my internet friends. I have no idea who they are IRL. I’m pretty sure none of them are my friend in the next office, as he is upfront about his interests which do not include blogging. There are lots of people who know me IRL, and I’ve even met some of them. That’s ok, I feel less like I need to be cloaked these days. But in the beginning it felt differently. I am using the word “feel” a lot, which is accurate. This wasn’t a well thought out decision at the time.
The University of Rochester thing brings up a point, distantly related to pseudos: if there is anything, anything, on your work computer that can link pseudo-blogging-tweeting you back to Real Big (or not-so-Big) Scientist you, it can be used against you.
Fighty squirrel has a good post on this. I may be just echoing the combatative sciurus, but it is worth echoing again.
Do not think that “oh my advisor/chair/dean/mentor loves me, really, really supports me”. Seasons change, and so do advisors/chairs/deans and mentors. Even if anyone in the chain of command above you does love you, does care about you, and even has protected you in the past, they may not be able to shield you from the Dread Pirate Roberts University lawyer. If the UR thing has taught us anything, it is that Universities perceive themselves as an entity with a reputation to protect, which they will over the needs and possibly truths of individuals whom they employ.
Aside: I know a story where this was not true. It was not me, but very close. The university did The Right Thing, even though it was expensive, and ultimately involved a real world civil court trial. There was an easy, cheap and face-saving out. But it would have been wrong and someone, somewhere high up in the University hierarchy said no to the easy solution. They supported the faculty member, and both uni and faculty were vindicated in the end. Everyone was shocked at all the choices made, and it was horrible for the faculty person. It is one story, and I cannot give the details. But, having watched my friend go through this, no matter what a trial looks like in the movies or on TV, you do not want to be involved in one. [do not cue up lawyer jokes. I know many fine lawyers who believe, unlike our president, in the Rule of Law. It is a very good thing to have the rule of law in our lives. I appreciate that there are lawyers who believe in it. But that doesn’t make a trial any less difficult on the non-lawyer participants, no matter what the role].
Many of you don’t blog. But nearly everyone does email, despite the fact that everyone says Millennials don’t. Yeah, yeah, but you do at work. And with every email you send, you should be thinking: the Dean could read this. The head of the grad affairs committee could read this. My mentor could read this.
Do not write anything (with work /uni email) without being aware of the greater audience who could by reading your every keystroke.
There is the equivalent of a key-stroke logger on your computer that is on the uni network. It might be that bringing your own laptop mitigates that problem. But it might not.
I have a friend who is of the view that he is lost amongst the squillions of xeno-terra-mera-hera bytes. That his little rivulet of words are lost in the ocean of University crap.
To this I say: fah. I say sure, until you are sucked up in some investigation. Go read fighty squirrel's examples. It, the problem, the cause, might have nothing to do with you at all, but that weirdo student in the next lab. S/he did something really weird that Concerns The Administration now. And in that first year you had carrels in the same room. And it turns out the weirdo was dealing drugs, or stealing bytes or banging the dean’s son. And now there is an investigation and they want to know what you know, and not about the Krebs Cycle.
There is good justification for keep your identities as separate as you can. They OWN your electronic university stuff. You do not.