Monday, December 06, 2004

Blogging and financial health,1284,65912,00.html

Wired has an article up concerning people's employers getting upset over the contents of their blogs. Mainly it's in regards to direct references to the employer. Depending on the particular situation, I can understand both employer and employee concerns. It isn't right for an employer to clamp down on private speech -- I don't know how many examples of that there are in the current Blog world. Yet likewise, employees should understand that for most companies, a dividing line exists between expressing your own views as an individual and expressing them as a representative. The obvious exception would be acting as a voice of conscience if the company were engaging in illegal activity or unfair labor practices and so forth.

The employee's risks (setting aside honest dissent) are promotional and social barriers, with possible job loss. The employer's risks include liability such as slanderous things an individual may say which may affect a company by implication - loss of competitive information or security info. I've been writing articles and snippets for the web for 10 years now, and my long-standing practice has been to completely separate commentary I make on behalf of a company, and confine my personal comments to appropriate venues. For instance, on this website I only identify my employer as a transport industry R&D firm. I don't mean that to sound like subterfuge. It's simply factual, but carries no baggage. People know what I do, but there's no direct relationship between what I write here and what I do for my dayjob.

I'd say the biggest hazard blogging and other web activities make to your job however, is simple cyberslacking. My advice there is to self-monitor before somebody starts monitoring for you.


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