Friday, March 11, 2011

Restraints when blogging


How does blogging fit with your career?

Back in June last year, SueLibrarian mentioned the topic of blogging personally on professional topics and asked whether others feel restrained from doing so for any reason. Plenty of comments from fellow librarians shared how to manage, or avoid the risks. (And while I'm acknowledging the long-ago stimuli: @flexnib's self-questions... just "ditto") Sue had been stimulated by Dorothea Salo's experience with conflict between her blogging and colleagues.  Dorothea (whose Book of Trogool is now hosted at Scientopia) pointed to Jenica Rogers' 2009 opinion that librarianship was not yet ready for online identities - although the other 18 points Jenica made in that post were positive about managing and understanding online identity.  

This is an issue I've pondered much to myself but haven't been game to record where I sit.  My situation is slightly different: I'm working (part-time) in the profession but I'm also still studying. (And therein lies a tickly topic with other unfinished posts relating to "profession" / qualification levels / exclusion and stratification.)  But for now I'll focus on risks or rewards, if any, to a later career by blogging while a student.

"What if a prospective employer takes exception to something I've written?"
"What if I'm wrong, or sound stupid, or ...(yes thank you Ceccy) condescending, or long-winded or..."
"What about all the non-professional posts I make too, should I have separate blogs, but then they'd both have fewer posts"

So, "to blog or not to blog" as one might google - and find oneself not alone in pondering.  Charlsie pointed out that in an age when future prospective employers will google us there is as much risk of being under- as over-exposed.  Eliminated from consideration for having nothing to say or for having said something unpleasant?

For a more positive perspective I looked for people who believe it was their blogging that got them their job. It turns out (as ever) that there is more to it, such as the skills that we learn and demonstrate writing for a blog as Cameron Plommer showed. Or, as Tyler Durbin discussed, the self we reveal and develop while becoming part of a community.  Tyler's opinion spoke to one of my concerns: when one of his commenters suggested that to be helpful towards a career one's blog writing must be "polished, professional and focused on topics relevant to its purpose" (eek, my blog is a wandering), Tyler argued instead for "real, honest and candid".

Like Tyler, "I'm the person that is directly related to the content" of my own blog - so now I have to wonder what my blog reveals about me.  Rational? Compassionate? Tech-savvy? Analyser? Synthesiser? I could also consider for future writing what I *want* it to show about me.  Tyler links his blog-revelation directly to the type of place at which he now works.  Perhaps my blog will not fetch me the few extra hours a fortnight my budget needs now, but over the next few years will it connect me with a team to help a wide variety of people find the weird, wonderful, where-oh-where information they need? Or with experiences I cannot even imagine yet?   

Ryan Healy's fifth reason for college students to blog addressed another of my concerns: being wrong. If I can be brave enough to post even when I might be wrong, I can be told (or discover), listen, re-evaluate, compose myself and reveal growth.  Con (aka flexnib, mentioned above) was even more forgiving: "ah well, it’s a blog post. It’s not meant to be perfect."


So why am I writing about this now?

Let me catch you up as it has been *cough* a while since I last wrote: I am studying at Charles Sturt University for the Bachelor of Information Studies (Librarianship). Okay so there has been more happening too but that will do to lead into:

Last night my search for an elusive article (abstracts without access to full-text are so frustrating) drifted a delightful blog into my view: At "Old Things with Stories": Lisa Schell brings things, ideas, images, together - in ways and style that connects for me - her choice of images, the blending of professional thinking and personal experience, and it appears the blog was inspired by her graduate LIS studies.  (side note for fellow students at CSU: she specialises in Archival Administration and Records Management)  You'll understand it was so charming I emailed her to ask for her to open the blog to comments.

Right so, you can imagine my joy to receive a reply this morning.  And my gulp when she asked whether I have a blog and I remember that it has been *ahem* since I last posted.

The course at CSU involves reading and posting on our reading to internal CSU forums.  Sometimes the requested contributions to forums are not outlet enough for my reactions to my excessive reading but I don't want to burden the students who are finding the work as it is more than enough to keep up with. I've considered channelling some of the overflow here, and then I have to remind myself how long I spend preparing a blogpost and thus how it diverts me from the dreaded essay tasks.

Hmmm, might blogging help me process ideas towards my essays? I'm recalling John Dupuis recently posted on a topic that he had merely touched on in earlier posts - does anyone else explore incomplete notions piecemeal through their blog?

Can you stand a diversion? Son#2's latest interruption in Boolean:
"World of Warcraft" AND "Abbott and Costello"

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating, articulate and insightful as ever - don't stop doing what you do so well. Great news about you starting the CSU course. You make a great technician but you'll make an even better librarian.

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