Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Workblogging

Before I started this blog, I have to carefully consider what topics I wished to post on. There was great temptation to comment on happenings at my workplace, or more generally, on happenings around the university campus where I work. (The latter would be rather more interesting than the former, let me assure you.) Upon reflection, I decided that the potential negative effects of such activity far outweighed the positive. After all, it is not unknown for people to be fired from their jobs because they blogged about work. Blogging, for many, serves as the ultra-modern, high-tech equivalent of going out with your buddies and complaining about the boss, the parents, the wife, the neighbors, etc. But your online "buddies" are not limited to those seated at the bar near you. And this is where Joe Gordon's troubles began.

Mr. Gordon, an long-time employee in good standing at a Waterstone's bookshop in Edinburgh, Scotland, took time to vent about his employer on his personal weblog. The employer found out, and Mr. Gordon suddenly finds himself unemployed. I can relate to this guy in so many ways. I am also 37 years old, and like him I spent almost 11 frustrating years as a bookseller for a large chain. Unlike him, however, I left of my own volition. Had blogs existed when I was selling books, I would have been sorely tempted to satirize my employer in an online forum; in fact, it would likely have been a group project. But there would have been unpleasant consequences, not unlike those suffered by Joe Gordon. As we were told on more than one occasion, our business was to stay in business; "customer service" was the key phrase. Staying in business also requires serving your employer well. How well are you serving your employer when you paint your employer in a bad light by venting on an open forum?

Some might see this as a free speech issue, but as Captain Ed points out, this goes beyond a simple matter of free speech. It is about responsible speech. Use it wisely. And do not expect to see much commentary, satirical or otherwise, about my current employer in this forum.

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