With reference to blogs and the workplace, I recommend an article on the subject published Sunday, 19 Feb in The Washington Post (‘Blogged Out of a Job’ at www.washingtonpost.com).
As stated in the article there are over 8 million blogs in the US and at least double that number worldwide.
This aspect of the Internet/Web is growing apace and the current penetration of Web users will likely reach at least 10 per cent (100 million) in the next few years. (So think 20 to 30 RCIP blogs).
The combination of blogs with search instruments (GYM – Google/Yahoo/Microsoft, and others) as well as institutional and individual Web sites is very powerful.
It is incorrect to say that ‘The essence of blog culture is to be able to make anonymous comments, etc.’ That is just one culture prevalent in the blogsphere.
Blogs may be anonymous or not, individual or organizational, open or closed, etc. Blogs are used in every aspect of our lives; medicine, research, entertainment, sports, government, religion and, yes, even in police organizations.
Blogs allow the rapid, free interchange of ideas and commentary in a collaborative, on-demand, group milieu rather than the one-to-few, directed interchange by email or the passive delivery of information by a Web site.
It is certainly the preferred form of whistle blowing and opens areas to public scrutiny that organizations may wish to keep private.
Blogs are opening up closed societies (think China!). ‘You can run but you can’t hide!’ now applies to information.
The statement was made in your otherwise excellent 17 February editorial that police officers outside Cayman might not consider a job because of what they read on one blog.
If anyone had done that then you would not have wanted to employ them anyway as they are patently affected by gossip and innuendo and are easily misled.
What any reasonably smart person reading a negative blog does is to seek corroboration.
Where there is corroboration or a lack of positive or negative reinforcement they will certainly ask questions if they are seriously interested in such employment.
That gives the organization a chance to address the issues head-on.
What is worse than not hiring someone is their hiring and subsequent early departure because of such issues.
There is a self-correcting aspect to blogging. They become rated by readers; those that are perceived as accurate and informative gradually become the selected sources for information. (There are fast growing companies that provide such selection in a formal way, for example, to banks, hedge funds, etc.).
The ranters and ravers (fanatics, misanthropes, and others) become marginalized.
All organizations, including countries, and individuals should realize that it will not be possible to hide perceived negative information.
They should address the issues caused by this revolution now.
At a minimum each organization should have a stated policy on employee blogs.
It would be also well advised to have an internal and an external organizational blog; in many cases these will fragment into a series of blogs as use increases.
Issues that are identified in such blogs and others can be addressed forthrightly and openly, while malicious statements can be disposed of appropriately.
Think of how rapidly email use expanded and you will have some idea of how fast blogs will grow.
It is easier to set up a blog than a personal Web site.
As with anything human they can be a force for good or evil, but they should not be ignored or demonized.
Their overall impact is already extremely positive, as evidenced in The Washington Post article.
Peter Cunningham – Reston,Virginia, USA