Monday, December 15, 2003

Blog hazards

Earlier this month, Cap'n Ken's blog was discovered by his employer (who the Cap'n refers to in his blog as WMBIC — World's Most Boring Internet Company). Luckily, he didn't get reprimanded too harshly.

Other's aren't always so lucky...

Last year the author of Dooce was fired for content in her personal blog.

The same thing happened to the author of Geekly.

And, of course, there was that high-profile story a couple months ago about Michael Hanscom getting fired by Microsoft over a post in his blog, eclecticism.

Just do a Google search for "fired for blog," and you'll find plenty more, too.

It's risky, yet we keep on doing what we're doing. Some people try to avoid mention of names and specifics, but doing so doesn't always help.

I've always been open about who I am and who I work for. It's too difficult for me to write otherwise. I remember in high school when my senior English teacher was trying to break us of the notion that you shouldn't use the word "I" in your writing. She said, "All you know is what you know. Of course you should use the word 'I'." I think the same applies here. If I used code names for the people I write about, I fear reading would become cumbersome. Nevertheless, some bloggers manage to pull it off. The author of Screaming Bean does such a good job with ambiguity that I don't even know if Beanie is a man or woman.

I certainly understand others who want to maintain annonymity. I have a hard time doing it though, so I just don't bother. If people find me they find me. I'm listed in the phone book, and I walk around in broad daylight, too. I'm not hiding anything.

Early on I shared my blog with my family, my friends, my co-workers, and my boss so I'd have no worries about them stumbling upon it later. With my co-workers, especially, it's likely someone would have found my blog on their own. The folks at are, after all, a pretty web-savvy bunch. This way though, I know they know about my blog, and if I say anything about them, I know they might read it. As such, my writing is, of course, effected. I censor myself to some degree.

Is self-censorship a bad thing? That depends on who I'm writing this for. If I'm writing it just for me, it's bad. But then, why am I publishing my words on the Internet? If I'm writing it for the unknown masses, sensorship could be a negative element. But would I really want to pour my heart out to strangers? If I'm writing it for my friends and family, however, the smart thing to do is to curb certain words and topics.

What it boils down to is that I don't write anything here about someone that I wouldn't say to them personally. For the most part, I'm straightforward (blunt) with people anyway, so I don't feel like I have to hold back too much. Of course my company does things that piss me off. The same goes for my family. But I like them both a lot more often than I dislike them. I also know the difference between things that are appropriate for public discussion and things that are not. Or at least, I think I do. People get fired for some funny things.

(Ken, Cindy... Please disregard the time stamp on this post. I might mention occasionally, but I'd never blog on company time.)

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