A meta post: on blogging

June 4, 2010

I was brainstorming what to post today. This challenge is hard. I am an infrequent blogger at best and usually only post when riled up about something. (“Riled” is a relative term- I acknowledge my posts are mild on any scale :)) The topics that will get me riled up are professional not personal. I have a few more posts in draft similar in tone to Wednesdays “Gripe 1” but will spread them out in order to dilute the snark.

But a topic has dropped in my lap. And it’s blogging. As a librarian.

Dorothea Salo is on my “must follow” list. I read ALL her posts, follow her on Friendfeed, and frequently pass her public posts onto my colleagues. Her interests coincide the current “big” projects at MPOW and she has insight, experience and researches her topics.

And she is seriously considering shutting down as a blogger.

I would respect her decision – and it is only hers to make- but would be incredibly saddened to lose her voice.

But it raises bigger issues for discussion. Those of us participating in this challenge are not necessarily blogging on professional topics. Of those that aren’t – do you feel constrained in anyway not to speak out on professional topics? I am not saying that you should professionally blog- just wondering if perceptions of risk to career colour that choice. Of those that do post on professional topics- have you ever felt it threatened your career? And even when it’s posts about topics of general interest to the larger profession? I acknowledge it can be foolish to discuss the specifics of a work situation. We do things to distance our personal blogs from our workplace because we can be uncomfortable and not sure of the reaction when we start blogging. I don’t have my full name or place of work on this blog but anyone could work those things out. I don’t hide the fact that I blog from my management and had these posts auto re-posting to an internal blog as an experiment but didn’t actually expect them to find or read them.

Would I feel uncomfortable and constrained if I knew my management were reading these? Probably. But I am also somewhat comfortable in having a low profile. I am not as exposed as Dorothea because I am not as well read. I am not as well read because I am not as insightful. It’s sad that the insightful voices are those we need and those who feel threatened.

(PS Dorothea also linked to Jenica Rogers wonderful post on professional online identity. It’s worth a read if you haven’t yet seen it.)


19 Responses to “A meta post: on blogging”

  1. Thank you for the truly thought-provoking post. I have chosen to separate myself professionally from my blogging and tweeting for a number of reasons: a number of which you have touched upon.

    I am not sure how the gods would view it, and don’t think a disclaimer “my thoughts are my own” would carry any weight. So I remain anonymous in the online sphere. This in turn allows me some freedom of expression. On a completely other note, I would be concerned if my blogging/tweeting was known that I would be expected to use it as a promotion tool. Not sure I would have the eloquence or the motivation to do so.

    I do disagree with you though – I think you are insightful. Keep it up!

  2. liberrydwarf Says:

    For me, not blogging on professional issues much is a three-fold thing:
    a) I have non-librarian blog readers I don’t want to bore, confuse or lose…
    b) I feel it’s very important (both for myself and for my readers) that I am more than just my job
    c) there are so many big voices out there in terms of big picture stuff and professional advocacy, I am not convinced that I have anything to say, in comparison, that matters.

    I know that’s a bit of a copout (especially point c) but that’s me I guess. So like justgirlwithshoes I do try to keep as anonymous, and non-librarian, as possible on my blog at least.

  3. haikugirloz Says:

    Thanks Sue I have grappled with this over the last year or so. I don’t have a professional blogging/tweeting persona and I have chosen to keep my digital persona as is for now.

    I am quite open about who I work for and what I do but I like the flexibility to blog about a range of topics.

    I do have a disclaimer about my views being my own. I am mindful about the content of my blog and tweets. I think we owe it to the profession to be critical and thoughtful and when I blog about work/libraries I try to do it in an open, honest way.

  4. Sally Says:

    Thank you for a very thought-provoking post!

    My online participation and content is a mishmash of personal and professional. It started out as a way of keeping touch with friends and family over long geographical distances. It became a way of sharing ideas, and forming and maintaining new relationships in both my personal and professional spaces.

    I *do* want to blog about professional issues, but librarianship is only one part of my life. Having said that, it’s so intertwined with other parts of my life that separating it out would be extremely difficult.

    But I must confess that the main reason I don’t blog much about library issues is a lack of confidence in my own opinions. I really enjoy discussing professional issues with others, but am not anywhere near as comfortable publishing statements of my own ideas. I hope this will change over time.

    So far, I’ve been fortunate enough not to have to worry about the effect that my online activities might have on my employment (in fact, it has generally been regarded positively). But I am *always* mindful that my scribblings may be read by future employers, recruiters, colleagues and clients.

  5. Michelle Says:

    My blogging is professional, my Facebook more personal and my Twittering a combination of the two.

    I have always blogged professionally, that’s why I started my blog in the first place. But I do have to be careful in what and how I write. I’ve learnt to live with that and sometimes watch what I say, but generally it is something I can live with more than comfortably.

    Keep up the good work Sue, you are one of the good ones and I’m glad we are getting more of a chance to read your thoughts through the challenge.

  6. Mal Booth Says:

    I think I’m just a rough combination of insanity, apathy and recklessness. That of course occasionally leads to moments of regret. But they soon pass.

  7. apubliclibrarian Says:

    my online persona is locked and private in twitter, I feel as if I’ve gone out on a limb leaving my blog as public. I’ve done what you have, only use my first name or user name, but defn never talk about MPOW – for me it would be inappropriate.

  8. Ruth Baxter Says:

    HI Sue,

    Been grappling with these issues for awhile. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t blogged before. I have a big mouth, and combined with Mal’s mixture of apathy and recklessness that can get me into trouble.

    I thought I would #blogeverydayinjune on professional topics, and have found it very exciting to be discussing circulation again. It’s not a hot topic with my peers : – ) However as I read everyone else’s topics I wanted to get more into my own thoughts and discussions.

    So i thought I might separate my blogs – one for work, one like girlwithshoes for me. Then technically I found that too much work so I sat and thought about it again.

    I say what I think about work in real life and it hasn’t harmed my career yet. If I have to get another job I may as well get one where people are interested in hiring the real me, so I’m going to keep on with my combined blog for awhile.

    With all that said, my mouth could do with pausing before speaking about people’s motivations a bit more. So I’m going to say what I think about issues but try and keep the snide evaluation of others motives down.

    You can all watch through June to see if I’m successful!

  9. Kathryn Gre Says:

    Good questions Sue. (I’ve tried to answer this four or five times on my iPad and it kept unexpextedly coming to the end of the character limit and chucking me out of the box..so if you have a gazabillion copies of the same comment, that’s why)…

    I identify myself by name, have my photo on my blog and identify my place of work and blog about it… BUT I try very, very hard not to tell other people’s stories. So even if a co-worker gave me permission to blog about something they said or thought, or one of my kids’ friends parents did the same for their kid, I would probably not do it. I would feel like other co-workers or parents would be wondering whether a real-life interaction with me was going to end up as blog fodder and I don’t want that mixing of my online self with the self who walks around in my skin. Often this means that I only tell “good news” kinds of stories, or blog about my thoughts around a work incident in an abstract way, rather than mentioning the incident that triggered it.

    When I first started blogging, I just watched what came out for the first 6 months and was really surprised by the professional focus and that I had something to say about it. I didn’t write the tagline of my blog until after I found out what it was about – and even now I have much less “balancing and being mum” in my blogging…

    I am lucky to have worked in jobs where blogging professionally was seen as positive. Then again, I don’t think I could work in an environment that expected me not to blog professionally using my real name. It’s not really been a big issue one way or the other though- I rarely mention my blog at work nor do my co-orkers.

  10. […] <– yes, but it’s great fun! I thought I would mention the following post – A meta post: on blogging by Suelibrarian. She reflects on professional versus personal blogging: Those of us participating in this challenge […]

  11. nomesd Says:

    This is a hard one for me – I didn’t decide not to blog professionally because I was worried about speaking out on professional issues. In fact I was a bit worried about blogging about a personal issue in what is kind of a professional development context! I decided to blog about my weight loss because I’d been thinking about it for a week or so, the challenge came up, and it seemed like a good idea at the time 🙂
    I also have the kind of personality that can *potentially* get me into trouble – I’m louder than your average librarian, I tend to say what I think, and I do often worry about the personal/professional divide. I’ve opened up my twitter account this month for the blogging challenge – much as I would at a conference to expand my professional network – but I will likely close it again once it’s over. I struggle with all of this on an almost daily basis, because I want to be open and sharing but I’ve been *warned* that there are people out there at MPOW and in greater LibraryLand who just itch for a chance to bring younger upcoming librarians down. Which I find worrying, and sad. I am inspired by the likes of Mal Booth and hope that if I get kicked out of MPOW for having opinions I can go to Sydney and work for him 😉

  12. hmmmm… this raised its head as an issue for me over the weekend as technically my blog is designed to be a professional development tool for myself rather than anything else and due to the whole 30 day challenge thing I’ve taken on, I was struggling a bit for writing ideas.

    I have the added complication of also having a personal blog that is currently locked down due to a difficult ex – which raised for me the question of “is a blog without an audience worth maintaining as a blog or should I just be writing in my journal after all?”

  13. […] Sue’s insightful post on blogging got people thinking in a very good way about the nature of what they blog about and why they blog. […]

  14. strawberriesofintegrity Says:

    I don’t have a problem with it- my blog is much more personal than professional – that’s just me.

  15. […] I’ve read with interest as Sue and Con have grappled with the idea of blogging about professional topics on personal blogs, […]

  16. […] things to thing about from con and sue. i’ll just add that i don’t really post a lot about work in general here, just the odd […]

  17. […] couple of days ago, Sue wondered about blogging about professional issues and the effect on one’s career – the effect of having too much to say and it being taken the wrong way. She kicked off from […]

  18. morgan Says:

    Thanks for this post. For me, this is a huge issue. And I have to say that there is a lot I would like to blog about, but don’t, because right now, self-censorship defines my blogging. I don’t have a huge output – these are the things which survive the self-censor. Maybe it’s something to do with the libraries I’ve worked lately – including a large commercial law firm with very tight policies against the disclosure of work-related information. In my current government job, there is a blogging policy which discourages public servant bloggers from identifying themselves as employees of a particular agency. The reason for this is the risk that my personal opinions may be viewed as official positions of my agency. Although the blogging policy allows me to blog, I have to be extremely careful to avoid conflicts of interest, or the perception of a conflict of interest, especially if I were to blog about subjects where my employer is active. The upshot is that I have several large and important areas which are absolutely “no go” when it comes to blogging. But that said, once I get used to these constraints, there are still large professional / work-related areas which I can write about, I will just need to change my focus somewhat.

  19. […] Questions can be interpreted as challenges […]

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