How do employees use private blogs for personal emancipation?
This sentence is the next draft of my thesis statement, and hopefully my last (although once I speak with my supervisor I’m sure this wish will prove to be in vane).
Here’s my thoughts on the question. Firstly, it’s tightly focussed on employees and their use of private blogs. By that definition I exclude social networking sites and other self-publication platforms. Why? These platforms are owned by corporations which have their own level of censorship. After all, even on this blog, which is operated on a Blogger platform owned by Google, someone who takes offense at my posts can report the blog to Google and, if the company thinks fit, the blog can be taken off line. Much more then is this the case on the likes of MySpace and Facebook. There are other reasons for focusing on private blogs. Unlike Facebook, which is known as a walled garden, tucked away from the prying eye of search engine indexing, private blogs are generally search engine friendly. In other words, they are effectively designed to not only allow personal publication, but be efficiently located by a public interested in their subject matter.
Secondly, I focus here on the matter of personal emancipation. Personal emancipation suggests a struggle on the part of an individual for the improvement of the self through political and social equality. How does this struggle show up in real life on a private blog? Examples such as Dooce (Heather Armsotrong) and QueenofSky – prominent examples of employees who blogged privately and ended up getting fired as a result – demonstrated, subsequent to their dismissal, a very clear passion for their own development and a desire to not let their experiences be wasted in a struggle for fairness and equality. In fact, Armstrong presents an ongoing theme of struggle to escape the effects of growing up in a Mormon household, and in some parts of her blog the anger boils to the surface in a natural and vigorous manner.
The struggle for equality and recognition often appears in the relationship with other key life figures by which I refer to employers who may become substitute parents (this is an issue I wish to stay clear of in my thesis as I am far from qualified to comment on the matter) and who must deal with an employees personal struggles in the context of an employment relationship. As in both cases, and particularly that of Dooce, it could well be argued that, rather than the individuals in question being corporate rebels and misfits, they were simply seeking to find and refine their own boundaries through self-publication and engagement with authority figures.
Why is this at all important? What benefits could arise from such an exploration? For a start a more enlightened view of free speech in a corporate setting may go a long way to improving the relationships between employees and employers. Often the real message is lost in the translation and enlightened managers do well to look beyond what was said or done to the unspoken, unwritten code many layers below the surface. At a broader level I hope that the research might spark some debate about how relevant censorship is in an organisation and whether it’s costs far outweigh it’s effects in the long run. Perhaps surveillance and censorship may be the seeds of a far too fertile crop of distrust and resentment that yields an abundance of inefficiency and lost productivity.
I’m keen to hear or read your comments.