Friday, May 26, 2006

Interns? No Bloggers Need Apply

Since I have worked in the private sector in several previous careers, I am well aware of tight-lipped corporate policies about sharing your work life with outsiders. But this article makes several important points about young bloggers' tendencies to "bare all" and what the employment consquences might be for doing so.

New York Times: "ON the first day of his internship last year, Andrew McDonald created a Web site for himself. It never occurred to him that his bosses might not like his naming it after the company and writing in it about what went on in their office.

For Mr. McDonald, the Web log he created, 'I'm a Comedy Central Intern,' was merely a way to keep his friends apprised of his activities and to practice his humor writing. For Comedy Central, it was a corporate no-no — especially after it was mentioned on, the gossip Web site, attracting thousands of new readers.

'Not even a newborn puppy on a pink cloud is as cute as a secret work blog!' chirped Gawker, giddily providing the link to its audience.

But Comedy Central disagreed, asking him to change the name (He did, to 'I'm an Intern in New York') and to stop revealing how its brand of comedic sausage is stuffed.

'They said they figured something like this would happen eventually because blogs had become so popular,' said Mr. McDonald, now 23, who kept his internship. 'It caught them off guard. They didn't really like that.'

This is the time of year when thousands of interns and new employees pour into the workplace from college campuses, many bringing with them an innocence and nonchalance about workplace rules and corporate culture.

Most experienced employees know: Thou Shalt Not Blab About the Company's Internal Business. But the line between what is public and what is private is increasingly fuzzy for young people comfortable with broadcasting nearly every aspect of their lives on the Web, posting pictures of their grandmother at graduation next to one of them eating whipped cream off a woman's belly. For them, shifting from a like-minded audience of peers to an intergenerational, hierarchical workplace can be jarring."

I am a staunch supporter of blogging because I believe blogs represent an important information sharing medium but I have never thought it ethical to divulge sensitive work-related information to the public at large. Although some of the bloggers in this article point to the importance of their blogs as a primary communication device for their families and close friends, they should keep in mind that a public blog is just that - public. Would they want their mistakes or lapses in judgment at work exposed to public scrutiny?

Of course I must admit I am a bit at a loss for understanding this new breed of bloggers that want to share every intimate detail about their lives anyway. Perhaps discretion is just something that a person learns to develop over time, unfortunately ,usually after being burned seriously first.
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