Online Personas: Who We Become When We Learn with Others Online

Margaret Lloyd, Carol Skyring, Daniel Fraser


At the beginning of the millennium, Gladwell (2000) introduced the people who “do” the work within networks. These were dubbed connectors, mavens and salesmen. A decade on, Ochman (2013) intriguingly suggested that there were 181,000 social media gurus, ninjas, masters and mavens on Twitter. But who are these unexplained characters or personas? Have connectors, mavens and salesmen translated into contemporary social media and personal learning networks? This paper is therefore about the “who” rather than the “what” and “how” that are typically the focus of investigations into personal learning networks and social media interactions. This paper will contend that connectors, mavens and salesmen are still identifiable and active in network interactions, with the definition of the maven being concatenated into the role of mentor. The findings from an online survey also revealed another set of other discrete personas with characteristics created and affirmed by interactions with others. Interestingly, individuals can adopt different personas dependent on context. Thus “who” we are depends on “where” we are and “who” is with us. 


personal learning network; connectors; mavens; salesmen; digital identity

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