Casey at MaisonBisson posted recently (“To Blog Or Not To Blog“) about something that I occasionally think about in regard to blogging — how it will affect future employment opportunities. I’ve been thinking about it more, as it relates to the article on blogging I recently wrote for the school newsletter.
When I first started blogging, it was all personal, all the time, and a lot of it was work-related. The job I had at the time was very frustrating on many levels; I needed to vent, and I needed to vent all the time. I took a big gamble in blogging about work in this way, and to top off the stupidity I frequently blogged from my computer at work. I did this with my eyes open — I knew that I could get in trouble and potentially lose my job if, say, the VP found my blog. But I also knew a few other things: that no one would check the cache on my computer for recently-visted links; that I had no intention of staying at the job for much longer; and that my immediate supervisor knew how frustrated my coworker and I were, and he knew exactly what was causing the frustration.
Anyway, all this was very stupid, yes, but at least I knew what I was potentially doing to myself. Could this possibly hurt my future job opportunities? I suppose it could, and I’ve been thinking about going back through the blog and taking down some old posts. But how paranoid is that? Is that a smart level of paranoia, or is that a paranoid level of paranoia? Last time I went through them, I wondered how much was really all that incriminating. I think at most it just points to the fact that I had run out of patience with the job, and that I am not the most consistently friendly customer service rep in the world. (At 60 hours a week, who is?!) But if you dig deeper, say in an interview, I think that most sane people would agree that the situation at that job was a problem waiting to happen. But I digress.
To get back to what Casey wrote about, I can also point to my blog (well, if I ever get more into writing about libraries) as proof that I’m thinking critically about professional “stuff” outside of the classroom. And, while I don’t spend nearly as much time editing posts as I spend editing other things that I write, I’m confident enough in my writing skills that you can still see that I’m a good writer. (And a good speller, since I cannot find the freaking spellcheck in WordPress. I need to look again in case they’ve added it since I signed up.)
The rest of these thoughts are less-fully formed, so bear with me. I think that right now we’re at a point where there’s perhaps more respect for people whose blogs are less diary-like and more professional (or at least about things that strangers are interested in, like a hobby, for example). As Casey points out, blogging is a new way of publishing. People thought and wrote about issues within their field long before the internet came around. But they couldn’t get their thoughts out to as many people as quickly as we can today — they had to go through professional publications, or perhaps try to start their own newsletter or forum. Today you can blog about something and potentially start a worldwide conversation with people in your field. People might say that bloggers don’t write about serious things, but have these people ever read the “Metro?” The fact that something is printed on a sheet of paper doesn’t make it better or more important than something you read on the Internet.
And also, to a certain extent, I think blogging demonstrates an awareness of and interest in the web and technology in general, since I think there are still a lot of people who “don’t get it” when it comes to interacting with the web, rather than just reading pages and finding information. I’m not trying to say that all bloggers are totally tech-savvy in every way — I think a ton of bloggers out there would have absolutely zero idea as to how to set up a blog on their own domain, from scratch with WordPress or Moveable Type. And a lot of them probably have no interest in doing that. But I think at a minimum it displays an interest in using this new mode of communication, and the level of tech-savviness can be deduced in other ways. Does the person also have a website? Has the blogger customized the Blogger template? Has he or she set up an RSS feed for readers to grab?
As a society I think we’re still working out our feelings about blogging. I also think that bloggers need to make concious decisions about where to draw the line that separates what will be blogged about from what won’t be blogged about, and be prepared to take responsibility when a problem or conflict arises.