In writing a blog post this morning to synthesise my thoughts and feelings on an incredible week that saw Australia placed on a watch list of potentially repressive regimes by Reporters without borders, I debated which blog to publish it on — my work blog or this, my personal professional blog. I started my work blog because I wanted to write about the projects in which I am involved in at work. That others I work with blog about my projects fired me up. I wanted to instigate conversations. I kept my personal blog for more nuts and bolts, off topic and opinion pieces. But that line is starting to blur for me and is leaving me in a quandry. I won’t give up this blog or let it go dormant because I own the IP to all that I write here. That is not the case with the company blog.Looking at myselves I think that my company blog is higher profile because the RSS feed appears on the company web page. Even though I get washed out of the stream fairly quickly by more prolific bloggers, I’ll bet I get traffic from that (as my stats are not hooked up on my company blog, I don’t know for sure.). And while respected aggregators like Stephen Downes have commented on posts I’ve made on my work blog — he’s never commented on blog posts from this one. So in the end, I thought I’d publish this morning’s post to the higher profile blog, even though I lose control of ownership on the content so that I could generate the discussion I wanted to start. But lately I’ve been looking at how I think about social media – including blogs and twittering. I was asked to write up my thoughts on policies around it for the organisation so that everyone had guidelines. And it strikes me that how organisations vs. individuals use these tools is changing the landscape for me.
Do I need to blog as an individual in two places? I don’t think so.
I blog to have conversations and to get my thinking down somewhere where I can easily access it. I’m not chasing stats. So what if Stephen Downes only ever comments on my education.au blog posts — if I want to be noticed, I’ll get off my bum and do more to move my blog out into the world. Should I keep my company blog to have a voice in what I’m doing for work? I’m leaning toward yes on that because I want to share the mindset and experiences behind what I do for and with my organisation. The question is –would readers want to subscribe to that? Just as I only read blogs that inspire, amuse or educate me — would someone want to subscribe to the blog of a woman who was just talking about the work she does? I suppose if it were relevant to their interests the answer would be yes. And what about my Twittering? I’m sometimes silly, sometimes talking about work. Should I keep my personal Twitter account for silliness and have another or create a joint company Twitter account to advise of outages, answer client tech questions and promote events? I’m starting to think yes. While I don’t openly complain about my place of work on my Twitter account — I express opinions that aren’t in line with the company’s stakeholders’ trains of thought. So by using Twitter to communicate about work issues — am I now a representative of the company on Twitter? It’s hard to write a disclaimer AND express an opinion in 140 characters or less. And what about my video sharing accounts? Long ago I realised that I can’t post videos with company logos on them to the same site I post machinima with dance music tracks and videos of my cat. So I set up company accounts for that. Slide sharing? My SlideShare account is about my presentations — no cat content or dance music there, so that was easy. LinkedIn is about me as a professional so that was easy. GMail is also all about me. But when I comment on blogs – what signature do I use and when? Do I use my “official” signature with my company name and title and contact details? Sometimes I do. Especially when commenting on the company dollar. For more radical sites and opinion pieces, I use my personal signature. But I’m always KerryJ — so does it matter WHICH signature I use? Or do I have an over-inflated sense of my own importance? Hmmm. The more I look into a an online communications plan for our organisation, the more I realise I need to write one for myself. How do you handle yourselves? Do you draw an online divide between your professional self and your private self? Do people who whinge about work on their personal accounts deserve to be fired if they are easily traced back to their place of work? Should people using professional accounts use the 2-drink rule after hours?

4 Comments

  1. Absolutely there is a line. I never post anything to the web unless I am happy for anyone and everyone to see it. I have two blogs, personal and professional, but not so that I have a safe haven for opinion pieces, but rather so that people can go to the one they want to.

    Facebook to me is public too. I’d never post something private on Facebook.

    In principle I’m happy to communicate private stuff via email, but I generally don’t because text is an awful vehicle for nuance and emotion.

    I gather Kerry that your professional blog is official and endorsed by your organisation. My professional blog isn’t. And yet, I wouldn’t publically criticise my school on my professional blog, in the same way that I wouldn’t criticise my school via a microphone in front of a large crowd of people. I don’t think I’d aggressively take up a cause or a principle in direct contradiction to the causes and principles of my school, either. If I felt THAT strongly about something at work, I would channel the energy into changing it, or I’d leave. So even if the blog isn’t official, there’s no getting away from my identity as a representative of my school. In my mind, my public reputation and my school’s are intertwined, and my blogging is not just my interface with the world but one of my school’s interfaces. I even see it as part of my role at school to publish our students activities and engage online. My school and I are very much on the same wavelength so there has never been any difficulty in this area anyway.

    My definition of ‘private’ is simple – anything I’m not comfortable with everyone in the whole world knowing/reading/viewing. The word ‘personal’ is something entirely different. I post personal things on Facebook, Twitter, and both blogs, and on my YouTube account. Personal, but not private, in that I’m happy for everyone and anyone to access these things.

    There are no shades of grey for me, no in-betweens. It’s either there for the whole world to see and I’m ok with that, or I’d never consider posting it. There is never a time that this filter gets turned off. I never have my ‘guard down’ when posting – it’s always a conscious decision… “Yes, this can go on the record.”

    One reason I’m so keen to use online social spaces and blogging with students is so they have some guided experience through these issues. Some kids are cluey with this stuff, but some are clueless.

    Just ramblings, but I think that’s what you’re after 🙂

    • Thank you very much for your comment and your RT on Twitter the other day.
      I really like the distinction you’ve drawn there – personal versus private. Because after all, you need to be somewhat personal in a blog post – people can get cold hard facts from anywhere.

      The organisation for which I work has so many stakeholders that I feel I have to have my own blog at times. But even when I’m being controversial in my opinion, I try to maintain that sense of balance that years in journalism instilled in me. I agree that younger learners need to be guided through all of this. Too many of them — from the famous to the unintentionally infamous — seem to be blowing it.

      Cheers

      KerryJ

  2. I haven’t commented here because I haven’t read it and didn’t know it existed. Can say for sure I would have commented, but I’m a reasonably prolific commenter.

    So I think there’s something to be said for your observation that you may want to promote the blog a bit. You don’t have to turn into a shill for yourself, but you should list your blog address when you comment elsewhere (as I have done here) and link back and forth between your work and personal blog.

    As for myself, my publishing profile has evolved as follows:

    If something is private, I don’t post it online. Period.

    My main website, downes.ca, has always had the status of a pseudo-work blog. I set it up on my own server, then for a time it was on the NRC’s server, then (after some complaints went to the Director) it went back on to my own personal server.

    My personal blog is halfanhour.blogspot.com and is explicitly for personal work. That does not prevent me from posting work-related stuff there, and in fact, most of the posts could be called work-related. Mostly, the distinction is that new long stuff goes on Half an Hour, and old long stuff and short stuff goes on downes.ca

    Because I code downes.ca as well, I use it for lots of experiments and the like. NRC owns my work-related work, no matter where it’s created. I released the engine I use for downes.ca, gRSShopper, as open source software a few months ago. So I can continue to use it should I ever end my time at NRC.

    So – overall, what does this mean?

    Basically, for me, _all_ my blogs are personal. I don’t have a “work blog” and would resist creating one, precisely because a work blog would cease to be a personal blog, and would be required to adhere to certain standards, because (no matter what the disclaimers) it would be viewed as representative.

    A private blog, by contrast, has basically free reign. Yes, what I do reflects on NRC, but this still leaves me a very broad scope of activity. But I can basically do what I want.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

      Ownership is a tricky thing when your passion and your work overlap — you do a great job of juggling it. And I like the fact that as an aggregator you’ve taken the time to think about what and why you post. You add value because you do inject your personality into what you do.

      I feel constrained on my work blog and because I don’t own the content — am reluctant to post things that I’ve spent my own time and effort to research. It’s something I think the company has to come to grips with as well — what do they want on the company-branded blog? Because I know I’d feel awkward about posting off-topic things like my Australian Citizenship ceremony or Pumpkin Pie recipe there. Yet these are topics that I want to share and have conversations about.

      Cheers to you both and many thanks for contributing to my learning journey!

      KerryJ

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