Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shutting down bloggers, one blog at a time


Moan-et
Originally uploaded by aknacer
I continue to be amazed at dinosaur thinking in the workplace. And, no, I'm not talking about my place of employment.

I received an email recently from a fellow blogger who has been cut down on her blogging. She's a teacher in a public school. Here's a little something she received from her boss:
Actually, you'll not see the little something she received from her supervisor.

Revieved in an email this morning:
Please delete the quotes from my school district's directive from your blog post. I just googled it, and it popped up. If my school district does the same, I'm history--and I'm already hanging by a slender thread!
Oh, I can relate to that. In the spring of 2007, I went through the same rigamarole. See Coast Guard Bust and CG FORCECOM to {{snip}} ... The good news, if we can look a the situation with a glass-half-full perspective, is that, if my situation is any indication, things will get better.

In the mean time, at the request of my blogging colleague, I've deleted the missive from her superiors.
.
I've been reading her posts for several years now; while I certainly don't agree with everything she says, I have never found her postings disrespectful or even tinged with the thought of undermining her supervisors' authority. Indeed, as other teacher-bloggers have noted, her posts are educational. Wrote one teacher-blogger, "I have learned many things about teaching from her, and in fact, just changed the seating in my room based on some things I just recently read."

Some people are just afraid, I think. This whole notion of transparency and learning from others, well, the dinosaurs don't get it.

Sure, it's scary. I'm not talking about life streaming, but about sharing information, making people and organizations learning people and and organizations.

For instance, I've started posting my work summaries online. Insane, some would say. I've caught some flack for it, and some people have suggested that it's inappropriate. Well, to my mind, the payoff is worth the risk. Hands down.

At least the Coast Guard, more of a monolith than any public school district, has attempted to balance organizational needs with individual needs and, also, actually, larger needs. Recently, the Coast Guard came out with a policy which, first, defined unofficial Internet posts: An unofficial Internet post is when a Coastie (of any flavor, be they a military member, a civilian employee, or a volunteer) expresses
THEIR COAST GUARD RELATED THOUGHTS, IDEAS, KNOWLEDGE, EXPERIENCE, AND OPINIONS BY POSTING ANY COAST GUARD RELATED INFORMATION TO ANY (COAST GUARD OR OTHER) INTERNET SITE. UNOFFICIAL INTERNET POSTS ARE PERSONAL EXPRESSIONS DEVELOPED AND RELEASED BY A MEMBER IN AN OFF-DUTY STATUS AND ARE NOT INITIATED BY ANY PART OF THE COAST GUARD ORGANIZATION OR REVIEWED WITHIN ANY OFFICIAL COAST GUARD APPROVAL PROCESS.
Since I've mentioned the Coast Guard, I'm thinking this very post probably falls under this rubric.

So, what are the guidelines? Fairly balanced, I think.
COAST GUARD PERSONNEL WHILE IN AN OFF-DUTY STATUS . . . ARE AUTHORIZED TO MAKE INTERNET POSTS ON COAST GUARD RELATED TOPICS . . . THE COAST GUARD PERFORMS VALUABLE SERVICES AROUND THE WORLD EVERY DAY AND THERE IS NOBODY IN A BETTER POSITION TO TELL THIS STORY THAN EACH OF YOU. AS A RESULT, THE COAST GUARD ENCOURAGES EMPLOYEES AND VOLUNTEERS TO RESPONSIBLY ENGAGE IN UNOFFICIAL INTERNET POSTING . . . COAST GUARD PERSONNEL WHO POST CONTENT ON THE INTERNET ABOUT THE COAST GUARD BEAR A RESPONSIBILITY FOR ENSURING INFORMATION DISCLOSED (INCLUDING PERSONAL COMMENTS) IS ACCURATE AND APPROPRIATE. COAST GUARD PERSONNEL SHOULD KEEP IN MIND HOW THEIR POSTS WILL REFLECT UPON THEMSELVES, THEIR UNIT, AND OUR SERVICE.
The policy is replete with references to privacy information, information security, operational security, and all the other caveats one would expect from a military and law enforcement agency. But the bottom line is clear: it's okay to muck about on the Web 2.0 and add content. And, it's okay to talk about the Coast Guard when doing so.

What's the teacher-blogger who's been shut down to do? Well, she clearly can't keep blogging, at least with the same focus she had before. As noted in one of the most recent posts, "From now on, you'll find nothing of substance here."

Actually, you will not find anything there, as she's locked down the site so that no one can read it. That's right, no one. It's become little more than a personal journal. No more learning from a fellow teacher. No more seeing through a window into someone's classroom. No more learning about how schools function and school leaders lead and school managers manage.

What irks me greatly is that in this teacher-blogger's posts, she didn't even name the school she taught. No hint of the real location. No hint of the real people involved. Rather, an unabashed view of one anonymous classroom in one anonymous school in one anonymous district.

And for that she gets the muzzle. Noted another follower,
All I am saying is this: if it can happen to her, it could happen to the rest of us. Keep your eyes open and your backs to the wall. And keep on posting.
Indeed.

So another blogger bites the dust. Or so the administrators think. We all know, however, that the hog will be fed, and ideas will flourish, and free speech will reign in the end. And, I look forward to reading this teacher-bloggers words and learning from her (albeit not from words on her blog), and other intelligent and dedicated professionals in the blogosphere (or whatever suitable replacement we can find).

To those leaders and managers who are concerned about content on the Web 2.0, get over it. Trust your people. Sure, give them guidelines. And follow-along. Realize everyone is still learning about this new media, so mistakes will be made. But also realize that there is more positive power here than any of us can imagine right now.

To my teacher-blogger colleague, and all the other folks out there who have taken it in the chin because of blogging (yes, Michael, you), keep at it. I certainly will; blogs and other tools help make us all learners. And that is nothing but good.

Cross-posted at Tidewater Musings and A School to Call Home.

5 comments:

Lynn said...

Just an observation... if this person didn't want you posting what she recieved from her boss, she'll probably not want you to post the contents of her email asking it take it down, either.

Google remembers things looong after they're deleted!

Peter A. Stinson said...

Lynn, thanks. I already checked with her, and I think we're okay as it stands now. Google already has cached the first iteration of the post; at this point, it appears I've done the damage I'm going to do. With a little luck, my blogging-teacher friend will be okay and things will return to some sense of normalcy.

A Cuban In London said...

Well, I think that both parties have a point. Discretion is paramount but freedom to post is another one. It is a dilemma. I think I would have reacted in pretty much the same way as the teacher. To err on the side of caution.

Greetings from London.

seo marketing said...

He..he..he..nice blog..and your creativity too. What have been the need to do like that guy. Entertaining blog..keep on such postings.

Cheapest Flights said...

Its a very bad news, SEO's would be greatly effected.