In response to my JMLA editorial on blogging, a colleague sent an email message asking if I'd seen the Chronicle article from a few weeks ago, Bloggers Need Not Apply. The article (written pseudonymously) describes the author's experience on a faculty search committee in which the blogs of several candidates ended up working against them in a job search. The specific examples in the article provide an appropriate note of caution, but the implicit conclusion (particularly the impression given by the title) overreaches. It isn't the fact of keeping a blog that should be of concern -- it's what one does with it.
The Gypsy Librarian comments on my editorial as well. In response to my line about people "shooting from the hip," he says, "I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing; it is the nature of the blogosphere to be conversational, and [in] 'real' conversations, very often speakers will shoot from the hip."
I like the conversationality of the blogosphere, but in fact it isn't a conversation. Not unless you visualize your barroom disquisitions as being transcribed word for word while anyone in the world might be listening at your shoulder. Back in the early days of email I first heard the phrase, "Don't put anything in an email message that you're not willing to see printed on the front page of the New York Times." I always try to follow that rule in email, and it is even more true with the blog. The tone may be conversation-like, but it is very public conversation. I know that some of my colleagues at Lister Hill read my blog. While I doubt that my president or provost read it or are even aware of it, I'm not sure about that, and there's every reason to believe that they might end up seeing a posting or an excerpt from one. My mother reads my blog, for heaven's sake.
I think (hope) the blog is a pretty accurate reflection of who I am. I try to be as honest as I can be. Someone reading this will get a pretty good picture of my day-to-day life, my politics, my interests, my likes and dislikes, my opinions on some of the issues of the day. If I were in a job interview situation, somebody looking at the blog would see pretty much the same guy that they saw during the interview. If they don't want to hire that guy because of who he is, then it wouldn't be a good place for me to work anyway.
The message that someone should take from the Chronicle article is not that one shouldn't keep a blog -- it's that in the wired world, we're living in glass houses. When I put words out into the blogosphere, I want to be sure that I can stand behind each and every one of them, no matter who's watching.