I don’t know which one I find more disturbing:a blogger who gives up his blog because no one can distinguish between him and the company he works for; or a company that produces such rules for its own staff about their personal blogs that it challenges the meaning of the linked in, collaborative world of the blogosphere.
The first concerns William Patry who wrote The Patry Copyright Blog, a good and decent blog over a four year period. It focused on “the geekery of copyright law”, it did not obsess with companies and Patry obviously had some serious things to say. But his problem was that he worked for Google so any time anyone refered to the blog, Patry was described as “Google’s Senior Copyright Counsel”. It meant that people questioned the validity of his comments and began to restrict on is comments.
Patry announces in a posting entitled “End of the Blog”, that he has now closed it.
A posting from Bloggasm, written by Simon Owens, shows how a corporation can also challenge blogs from
a different direction. In a posting entitled“CNN creates blogging policy, encourages employees to engage in sockpuppetry”, Owens quotes extensively the blogging rules for the employees of US broadcaster CNN. It’s pretty tough.
The employee is left with a pretty clear indication that CNN does not distinguish between the corporate and private identity of its employees. That seems fine until you think – why would an employer allow its staff to blog and then get surprised when they stray? Surely for an employer to be that enlightened, to be that aware of where it needs to stand in these digital times, it must have considered the dimensions of this collaborative, linked in world? If not, why be surprised. Perhaps it shows that even the most forward-thinking of traditional firms are still have a problem making the leap all in one go.
And back to William Patry. I think he is wrong to have forsaken us. This blogging world mixmashes up our professional and private selves, as CNN feared. Whether your company name is on your blog or not, your LinkedIn or Facebook profile will lead you to a blogger’s identity in several different ways: those photos of a family trip to Paris on Facebook….the mention of not just one employer but several predecessors on LinkedIn. It all comes out. There are no longer any boundaries, only those one sets up oneself.
And for any journalist, and I have been one myself for years, any association with a big name is going to enhance a story. The blogosphere might play at being a republic where everyone is equal but it is actually an Empire made up of a few grandees and several million serfs. Just as bloggers circle the grandees, so journalists will inevitably do the same. Perhaps William Patry, like CNN, should not have been as surpised as he was at the result.
So William Patry. I think you gave up too early. Come back in! For employer/employee, trad’ company/digital company, we are all struggling with what I have called the indefatigable digital identity of the editor 3.0. We need help from exactly people like you and the employees of CNN to show us how.