Tag Archives: LinkedIn

Ideamarked 8-14Apr: Real Life Is Tragicomic

I’ve been in an indescribable frame of mind all week, well I tried anyway but couldn’t accurately put a word on it. There’s nothing really going on in my life. I don’t exactly feel depressed about it. Most  of the time it’s a nice kind of emptiness, one that gives me the space to fill it with funny, sweet thoughts. But when I meet other people, there’s an impending sense of gloom. There is much that is wrong with the world and the fact that laughter is not clean anymore, is the least of it. Here’s what was mirroring my mood all week:

  • #GenuineKoshan from the irrepressible twins to their mother: Finger Business
  • So bad it’s good from the 90s: Altaf Raja‘s Tum To Thehre Pardesi. Enjoy!

Catch the links as they appear on The Idea-smithy Facebook Page. If you’d like to see a link appear here, send it to me and I’ll feature it. Email me at ideasmithy at gmail dot com or

What’s In A Name? – Naming Policies On Social Media

When Google Plus launched in 2011, I jumped in enthusiastically to try it out. I was already on Facebook, running two pages as well, an avid Twitter user but I was interested in a new offering in the space. Shortly after, Google refused to let me continue using the service unless I let them know my ‘real name’.

Let me explain. ‘IdeaSmith’ is a name I gave myself in 2004, when I first set up a blog. After all, the Internet was still a new if not entirely unfamiliar place. As one of the early Indians on the internet, I had played with handles without knowing the term in the 90s, on chat and later on EGroups-YahooGroups and an email address from which I used to send out articles to friends and family (my first self-publishing & broadcasting experiment). By 2004, the notion that you could be whoever you wanted to be on the internet had already gotten commonplace. I chose IdeaSmith as a step up over ‘Wordsmith’ because I saw (and still see) myself as a person of thoughts and ideas, not limited to just words but multiple media & formats. Also, I liked the gender neutrality of it.

For reasons of privacy, I decided to keep the identities of IdeaSmith and Ramya Pandyan, distinct. This allowed me to explore my writing and my ideas, unfettered by all the restrictions imposed on me as a woman, as an Indian, as a member of my family and all other communities I had been a part of. In time, I realized that this construct had outlived its purpose. I was now a more confident writer and person. A lot of people have tried to embarrass me for those years of anonymity, treating it as something silly or shameful that I had to ‘hide away’. I don’t see it that way. To me, it’s like conducting your experiments in the contained environment of a laboratory before making your work visible. What’s shameful about that?

Since 2007, a lot of people who interact with the IdeaSmith identity have known my ‘real name’ and other details about me. In 2009, I officially came out revealing my name. Now my real-w0rld name appears in most places online too. However, IdeaSmith is now a brand that is associated with a specific kind of writing, type of views and a set of content. As a writer/content creator it both symbolizes and carries in it, my work of the past 8 years. Given that this is the online space, people who are looking for my work are more likely to look for Ideasmith than Ramya Pandyan.

Thus far this has been a consideration but not a problem. My LinkedIn profile states that I have been employed by certain companies (nothing to do with my work as IdeaSmith) whose records carry the name ‘Ramya Pandyan’ and hence that is the name I go by there. In all other places, the records are associated with IdeaSmith or Idea Smith (where a first and last name requirement exist).

This week I received an email stating that a Quora admin had blocked my account. Here is what my account looks like right now:


The account is headlined by the message,

“Your account has been blocked from editing because the name associated with your account does not conform to Quora’s naming policy.”

If you look at my profile, you will notice it starts with the sentence,

“IdeaSmith is the online avatar of Ramya Pandyan.”

The profile also links to my presence on other social platforms, including LinkedIn.

I’ve been asking people what they think about this in the last week. Aside from the scoffing that comes from people who always thought having a handle was a stupid idea, there is one coherent thought that did come my way – security. As the social/digital space continues to grow in its presence in our lives, I can see why platforms and networks are feeling the need to know their users better.

Quora however, does allow people to post anonymously. I could have done that, were my purpose one of mischief or something else equally dubious. What’s more, ‘Smith’ is a perfectly acceptable last name. ‘Idea’ as a first name may be unconventional but it does not strike me as an entirely unacceptable notion. And finally, isn’t it rather presumptuous to decide what kind of name is or is not acceptable? Also, what kind of security is offered to the service by knowing a name? I could come up with a seemingly plausible but false name like say Margaret Reed. How would that protect their service in any way, were my intentions to turn malicious?

I’ve been very interested in Quora thus far but with this, they fail to fulfill one of my key requirements. I am on Quora because I am interested in social content and digital communities. It benefits me to explore this area and work the tools under the name of IdeaSmith, otherwise these are just meaningless time-draining actions. As long as a social media service does not let me do this, they’re closed and unavailable to me. Isn’t that exactly what defines a need-gap?

Here are some other people I’ve seen experimenting with online identities as distinct from their offline ones:

Each of these people have had different journeys and presumably, different objectives for their online avatars. Doesn’t that indicate that there are any number of reasons that a person would want to have a name different from their offline one? It seems to me that an online service would be unwise to force its users to conform to their offline names only, thus depriving them of one of the greatest benefits that the internet has to offer – the opportunity to go beyond the offline.

Social Media Nuisances


Social Networking-How Communities Were Built

December opens in one of my favorite ways – a new writing project! 🙂 I’ve been an active member of the online community from 1996 and the social sub-community that emerged in the early years of the last decade. Now I get to lay down my observations in a commentary of this space. I’m quite excited to be part of Social Samosa!

Social Samosa is a venture by Ankita Gaba and Aditya Gupta and will focus exclusively on the Indian social media space. That’s a tall order, as you may imagine, considering just how much there is, firstly, to social media and secondly, to how Indians are using it.

I start with by exploring the advent of social networking in a 2-part article. The first post titled ‘Social Networking: How Communities Were Built‘, looks at the prominent players and their individual attempts to build the social community we have today. Facebook stars prominently of course as does LinkedIn but Orkut, Google Plus and Egroups feature along the way too. Do read it and tell me what you think!

“The primary function of a social network is to connect people. However, it is not enough to link people and assume that they will prolong the interaction, or indeed keep their interactions within the network. Furthering those connections & retaining the conversations within the network, is crucial for the network to survive. People need activities in order to transition from connection to community. “

Read the full article here.

Image via Jscreationzs

The Careerist: The Online Advantage – Marie Claire India July’11

I’ve written an article for this month’s (July 2011) issue of Marie Claire India – ‘The Careerist’ section. The story, ‘The Online Advantage‘ looks at how a professional can use the online social networks to improve their prospects, present themselves better, leverage the value of networking and in general, carve a place for themselves in the new workplace – the internet.

Harness the power of social networking to get ahead in your career. The cost is minimal, the impact maximal.

BlogAdda 10: Blogger Profiles – Creating An Identity

This week I post my tenth column in the BlogAdda series and this time I talk about one of the fundamentals. The ‘About Me’ section also known as a bio is a much neglected but very important part of a person’s online presence. It is the first communication about you to your readers and defines your blog. In my column I cover the basics that a bio should have and a few other things that it could include.

When I find myself grappling with a problem, especially a creative one, I go back to my basics, my fundamental assumptions. New ideas usually emerge from there. While thinking about what to talk about in this column for bloggers, I went back to my first post listing the basic 10 essentials for a blog. And in that, I found my answer.

Number 3 on that list is the Blogger Profile. Does that merit a column? Let’s see. How long does it take to describe a person, to define his identity, to etch out her life? How long does one have? A Blogger Profile (or the About section as it is known in certain places) is an introduction, a description and a definition. It can also be a portfolio, a marketing tool, a showcase or a resume. This is the place you go to when you’re facing an identity-crisis of sorts, about your blog.

(Click here to read the entire post on BlogAdda)

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BlogAdda 5: The Twitter Birdie At Your Blog

October begins with a new season and a new look for our favorite birdie. In honour of the revamped Twitter, my BlogAdda column this week looks at the 140-character phenomenon and how it can benefit bloggers.

I’m still looking for feedback on this column, so my dear readers, please do drop in and leave your thoughts.

(Click here to read the post at BlogAdda)

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BlogAdda 3: Protecting Your Privacy

My third post is up on BlogAdda. Last week I talked about how to build accessibility for a blog through feeds and link-sharing mechanisms. This week I take a look at the exact opposite.

While the internet opens you up to a broad range of people and experiences, it also leaves you open to a number of undesirable elements. Fortunately, filtering mechanisms are available that can help you tailor your online presence with the level of accessibility and privacy that suits you the best. Privacy is as relevant an issue as accessibility and I felt that after talking about how to make one’s blog visible, it was vital to know how to also protect oneself online.

(Click here to read the post)

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