Wednesday, April 19, 2006

And speaking of David King...

He has a good post on an article about why blogging is "essential" to a good career...I thought it was particularly appropriate since we've been having a discussion about careers and blogging...


Blogger Kelly Sime said...

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2:23 PM  
Blogger Degolar said...

While you, David, and the article all use the general term blog, I think you are only talking about one particular type: the professional blog. Blogs can be many things to many people--professional, organizational, news, business, or personal (or others, I'm sure).

In one of your comments from the earlier discussion you say, "once you do blog about your personal life, it's no longer personal." I think you are confusing personal with private. I define my personal life as anything that's not work--nobody "owns" me for that time and I can do what I want. For instance, I'm a triathlete. When I train it is either outside or at the gym, very public. Anyone can come and watch me at the events. Or they can log onto the event websites and find me in the results and photos. There is nothing private about it, yet it is something I do for myself. No one pays me for it or makes me do it. It is a personal hobby.

I use my blog as a communication tool to share my personal life with my friends (and anyone else who cares to read). Some people go out to lunch to keep up, some talk on the phone, some IM, etc. I like to blog. And while I don't necessarily exclude any realm of my life, I generally don't write much about my professional life.

One of the things I love about my job is that I never have homework. When I walk out the door at the end of each day I can leave it completely behind. I don't want to go home and spend my personal time writing about work-related things. I have many other hobbies and interests and would rather spend my time on those. That doesn't mean I hate my job. I'm quite passionate about it, in fact, and think I do very good work. I just can't spend all my time thinking about it and need to get away from it so I can come back each morning refreshed and ready to fully engage in it again.

So the idea of a professional blog is completely unappealing to me. I check in with your blog every once in a while, for instance, but I only read your personal entries. I skip all that stuff about OPAL and such because I don't want to be bothered with it unless I'm at work. So what you have been saying in this discussion is true and good about professional blogs, but not necessarily applicable to all blogs in general.

9:44 PM  
Blogger ic-tim said...

We all work together ... let's face it, the library community is a small one ... whether somebody blogs personally or professionally is certainly a choice that s/he makes ... and I don't care which way you go ... totally up to you!

That said ... if you blog ... or write a column for the local paper ... or send a letter to me with your personal and/or professional opinions and goings on ... should you ever decide to apply for a job (or run for office!!!), no doubt these things will be part of somebody's decision-making ... Why? ... because ... it's out there in the public arena and you can't put the proverbial genie back in the bottle.

I gotta say, I think it's pretty naive to think that you won't be judged -- at least partially -- based on what you say in a public forum ... and be sure ... a blog is a public forum! ... Oh, and using a pseudonym is certainly not protection from connection ... people know you ... they know what you do, they know who you know, they know where you work, and they know who you're talking about ... the fact you don't use your name is really nothing more than a tiny little puzzle to solve.

I say all of this because as degolar said, he does good work ... so does kelly ... so do a lot of folks ... and if you want to be judged based on the work, don't say stuff publicly (i.e., bloglicly) that you would want connected back to you. If you truly don't care or if you are proud to stand behind what you say, then more power to you! If you can't say one of these things, recognize that what you write and say reflects on your judgment -- both professional and personal.

Okay ... last thing I'll say on this ... while we always want to hire good professionals, we select them from grous of persons ... they are not unconnected ...

PS - the first thing I do when I get an application from someone is Google them ... it doesn't mean I believe everything I read ... but I read them!

8:23 PM  
Blogger Degolar said...

I'm certainly not unaware of the fact that blogs are public forums and I need to watch what I say. People who know me will figure out who I am and I consider any acquaintance a potential reader. If I was trying to hide I wouldn't comment on other blogs, would ask friends not to link to me, and would take pains to avoid a trail that might give me away. The one thing using an alias/first name only and avoiding using other specific names does is keep you from being found out through Google and the like. Unless someone in some way "outs" me, a search using my name or place of employment will never find my blog. So if you know me you can figure it out, but other "potential employers" shouldn't be able to.

I use that alias because I want to make a clear distinction between my personal and professional lives; I want it clear from the start that I am not representing any organization in what I say. It's not because I am trying to hide any of my thoughts or gain the freedom to say inappropriate things without claiming responsibility for them. If a potential employer does run across it, I'm OK with him/her knowing I have liberal political views, do triathlons, play D&D, etc. Perhaps you disagree, but I feel I've shown good judgment in what I've written--and not written--about. I'm just looking for an informal forum for sharing a different side of myself with people.

So why am I all up in arms about this? It's kind of like the kid with the guilty conscience who yells, "What? What did I do?" before ever being accused of anything. I'm bothered by the idea of googling potential employees and snooping around to try to find personal dirt on them. Applicants give you a resume and application with references, accomplishments, professional blogs and the like that you are supposed to work from. When I was getting my education degree we were shown an old teacher employment contract. In addition to work stuff, it had stipulations about things like mandatory church attendance, bars and businesses in town that were off limits, an agreement not to date or marry, etc. There was no distinction between personal and professional life. I would hope we have moved beyond this. We claim to be an equal opportunity employer, not discriminating based upon: race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, or disability. While these are all very specific categories, to me it implies a larger principle that applies more broadly. An employee's--or potential employee's--job performance should only be judged on what the person does professionally. Personal characteristics and choices made outside of the work setting should have no bearing on the matter. Sure, it's hard to compartmentalize a person into distinct bits, but it's what a (potential) employer should strive for. So since it's hard not to factor in what you might already know about someone but shouldn't consider, why go out on Google to find even more things about the person that shouldn't factor into your considerations? I'm apparently in the minority since employers everywhere seem to be doing it, but I find the idea of googling a potential employee unethical and am bothered by your defense of it.

3:51 PM  
Blogger Erica Reynolds said...

Are you really saying that you should be able to say anything in a public forum, and it shouldn’t have any impact on how someone else perceives you? Ok…well, then that’s a “should” argument, and I’m only arguing what “is” in this case…more on that in a sec…

1. I’m not planning to win an argument here. I don’t think that was my intention to begin with. At best, I was trying to strike a cautionary cord. I don’t have any problem with what I blog about (whether it’s stories with my nieces, surveys on my likes/dislikes, or worky stuff…). And honestly, I don’t care what others blog about-- I was simply concerned that it seemed some colleagues (within and outside our place of work) seemed to post comments or feel they could post comments that I doubted they would really want a potential or current employer to see. I wanted to caution said colleagues to be aware that what they say/do in the public forum of the Web might have other implications. Should it? Right now, I’m not interested in that argument, but feel free to take it up elsewhere. There is a difference between a “should” argument (should it be that way) and an “is” argument (it is this way). I’m only focusing on what is. I can change a lot of things, but this isn’t one of them. My advice is to play it as lays.

2. The issue isn’t personal vs. professional. It’s private vs. public. We teach patrons (y.a. and others) about blog/Internet safety; I think it’s important that we all understand the potential implications of casting our opinions whether they be work, family, or hobby-related into the public forum of the blogosphere. That does not mean I’m advocating not to blog about anything but work-stuff. Far from it. It just means you should know that when you post, someone, somewhere might read it—and that might be years from now or at least within a different context. So, be sure that whatever you post, you’d be fine with anyone else reading anytime, anywhere. If you think I’m full of it—feel free to disregard my advice.

3. Googling potential employees isn’t snooping. I’m not looking in someone’s purse or reading personal files. I’m casting a net into the oh-so public realm of the Web. You assume I’m looking for “dirt” --that’s not the case…maybe I just want to know what they’ve been up to—or actually more likely, I’m looking to see who else has referenced their work… Usually, it’s a good thing. But it’s not snooping. And it’s certainly not unethical to search the public sphere for references to a person. When you hire someone you are investing a lot of organizational time and money. You’re obligated to do it well. No one would think that doing a bib search on someone was unethical.

4. We all have personal vs public lives. In the example you cite, the employers tried to regulate the personal lives of employees. That’s a completely different case. All I am suggesting is that if you’re posting to a public forum, be aware that others may read it. That’s it. And like Tim said, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. You can’t stop people from having a judgment. It’s simply self-preservation.

So, overall, post often, post well, but know that whatever you post, someone else may read it (or at least we hope), and you won’t know where or where or within what context. So, my advice would be to avoid posting something you wouldn’t want stapled to a future job application. That doesn’t mean to be less critical, less snarky, less personal—but know that the minute you post it up…it’s out there. For better or worse. Peace out.

7:34 PM  
Blogger Degolar said...

Yeah, I didn't think I was trying to win an argument either. At least I didn't start out that way. It was a really interesting discussion on the nature of blogging with lots of different perspectives. But somewhere I think I've gotten a bit too wrapped up in this and should maybe take a step back to think about it some more, because a part of me is wondering if you and Tim aren't being quite reasonable and I'm acting like a petulant teen trying to tell my parents they can't read my blog. I mean, I don't really disagree with what you are saying, I would just nuance it differently. But still, something about it doesn't sit right with me and I can't quite figure out what that is. It keeps bugging me and I can't agree with you, I just don't know why. But the reminder to be fully aware of what you are doing when you blog and the potential consequences is always a good thing.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Degolar said...

But as the person with the power in this situation (i.e. the potential employer), isn’t it your responsibility to try to make what should be into what is as much as possible? Isn’t that what you should aspire to? So if personal/non-work information can potentially prejudice you against the person in an unfair way, shouldn’t you avoid seeking that out?

4:53 PM  

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