I keep an archive of every biography I have ever created or used. There are dozens of them. I have short bios and long bios. I have bios skewed toward writing and others that reflect aspects of my academic work. These bios show that over the course of my career my trajectory, focus and story have evolved.
The biography is how we want to be seen
While my biography is a hybrid of who I am and how I see myself, it’s most importantly how I’d like you to see me. The best bios reflect the bigger story of how we see ourselves in relation to the rest of the world. I strangely enjoy reading other people’s bios. What’s most interesting is to read the bio of someone I know well. Contrasting what I know with what they write tells the most interesting things about a person.
Beyond the traditional biography, the Twitter bio tells its own story. As described by the New York Times in 2013, “The Twitter bio is a postmodern art form, an opportunity in 160 characters or fewer to cleverly synopsize one’s professional and personal accomplishments, along with a carefully edited non sequitur or two.” My Twitter bios are similarly archived in Evernote.
The biography is a product of public presence
It’s interesting that the biography is a relatively new thing. For most of us it exists only because of our ability to have a public presence. Before any of us had our own platforms for thinking and sharing, the bio was for authors and public figures. Most professionals just had a CV. Otherwise biographies were found in books and magazines where those with permission to speak were heard.
Now the regulars have a story to present. And a simple clip that tells what makes us tick is a necessity of a public age.
You can check out my bio here. But it will change. I’m mid-career and an unfinished product. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.