Friday, 10 June 2022

Internet metaphors

It is always great to attend a conference. I think one of the most valuable things is that we get to hear people who don't think about the world in the same way that we do, who tell our stories from a different perspective.

I attended the CERIC (Canadian Education and Research in Career Counselling) CANNEXUS conference earlier this year, and listened to a session by Tristram Hooley and Tom Staunton (Hooley & Staunton, 2022). Their presentation was based on their book chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Career Development (Robertson et al., 2021), which outlined a number of things about the pros and cons of technology use in career development.

They outlined that the internet is not inherently good or bad. It is simply a thing. Our construction - and our client's construction - is what colours our view. An element within the presentation that was really sticky for me was their metaphor approach for the internet. They outlined six (Hooley & Staunton, 2022):

  1. Library. Collectively the internet is an information store that we - and our clients - can use for good quality career decision-making. While what is found on the web is not necessarily accurate, complete, or unbiased, it is available; providing we can give our clients appropriate tools to "interrogate, critique, and assess the value" of it (Hooley & Staunton, 2021, p. 301).
  2. Media channel. Help clients to narrow-cast their narrative/identity meaningfully so they keep "control their self-presentation online" to their own level of comfort (Hooley & Staunton, 2021, p. 301). Guide clients in narrative-development to build a positive, not negative, career identity (Hooley & Staunton, 2022).
  3. Surveillance camera. Check in to ensure clients understand traceability and permanence online. All "online [...material] can be used in a selection [, ...] management process", education, or in government records (Hooley & Staunton, 2021, p. 302).  Further, just the idea of visibility may change our behaviour "to conform to what [we] imagine employers and others would want" (p. 302).
  4. Marketplace. The web is a virtual career opportunity market, created through interactions with employers, educators, recruiters, and online professional profiles such as Linkedin. It also provides volunteer project involvement to showcase skills (such as Wikipedia, Ubuntu, etc) or to advertise piece work on platforms such as Fiverr (Hooley & Staunton, 2022).
  5. Meeting place. The web enables us to have conversations with others and find our digital tribe, "build[ing] and maintain[ing] a career-relevant network (Hooley & Staunton, 2021, p. 302). This is not limited to professional networking (i.e. LinkedIn), but may include vloggers on YouTube, Facebook groups, or any of the myriad of other platforms and spaces (including the dark web for some fields).
  6. Arena. The internet enables "norms [to] be established or challenged" (Hooley & Staunton, 2021, p. 302), which is a pretty powerful idea. It also allows those in power to deny public access to the channel (such as in Syria, Myanmar, and - at times - China). The internet may be either "a place of play and exploration [or] a place of protests and critique" (Hooley & Staunton, 2021, p. 302). From the "hashtag activism" of #MeToo to "us[ing] the crowd as a form of protection", the internet is allowing us to evolve the idea of work, and to spread new ways of working and connecting (Hooley & Staunton, 2021, p. 302-3). 

Quite a useful list to consider client's points of view from, and to provide useful redirect where an overly positive or negative view is taken.



  • Hooley, T., & Staunton, T. (2022). The Role of Digital Technology in Career Development [video]. CANNEXUS22 Virtual Conference 25 January - 5 February.
  • Hooley, T., & Staunton, T. (2021). Chapter 21: The Role of Digital Technology in Career Development. In P. J. Robertson, T. Hooley, & P. McCash (Eds) The Oxford Handbook of Career Development (pp. 297-311). Oxford University Press.

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