sue watling

blogging has rules

July 16, 2009 | 2 Comments

Last night I posted a blog in which I reflected on my shock at how in less than 24 hours words like voluntary and compulsory redundancy, consultation procedures and union representation had become part of my working vocabulary. I felt that blogging might help make some sense of the craziness of a situation where colleagues are facing the potential prospect of competing with each other – regardless of contractual status (fixed or permanent) or source of funding (core or external) for a lesser number of posts. I asked questions about how the end of the TQEF and the lack of ring fencing of the TESS might impact on the provision of teaching and learning development and I reflected on the reality of a finance driven strategy.

Today I was advised by a colleague that being critical of the university’s senior management in a public forum and using a system supported by the university within the domain could easily be interpreted as a disciplinary offence. Not wanting to make my current situation any worse, and not having any real intention other than trying to make sense of it all, I took down the blog.

Since then I’ve tried to rewrite it but the moment has passed. It stood as it was or not at all. However, it has taken me back to the recurring theme in these posts – what is blogging all about? What do we risk by posting part of ourselves online? I was using this forum to work through my own thoughts and reactions. Clearly blogging needs to be more measured than this. I was using a ‘work’ area for ‘work’ reflections but obviously stepped beyond the boundaries of what is considered to be appropriate content. Like anything else, blogging clearly has rules and risks of its own and we all need to be aware of them.

2 Comments so far

  1.    Julian on July 17, 2009 5:59 pm      

    I think the question “what do we risk by posting part of ourselves online?” is a really interesting one. My first impression though is that our behaviour in a blog is likely to have the same consequences as our behaviour in any other public forum. You could have written the same words in the post you have removed on a piece of paper and sent them to the letters page of a local or national newspaper, and if you had, I suspect that that action would also have run the risk of being interpreted as a disciplinary offence, even though your reason for doing either was, if I’ve read your post correctly, largely therapeutic.

    What I’m getting at is Blogging in these circumstances, partly at least, a way of finding someone to talk to? That is, someone who might be in the same situation, who “understands”. Family members, friends and partners might not have the same empathy about a situation as those who are sharing the situation and may find it hard to empathise. Those who read your blog, on the other hand, are by definition, interested, or they wouldn’t be reading it in the first place.

    Raises all sorts of fascinating issues about student blogging doesn’t it. What for example would happen to a student who blogs about a mark they feel to be unjust and names their tutor!

  2.    sue on July 19, 2009 8:25 am      

    You use the words therapeutic and empathise which are interesting additions to any debate on the nature of blogging; if we blog to reflect then they are both part of the reflective process. But maybe a public forum is not necessarily the best place for reflection and if it has work associations then clearly we have to be careful what we say.

    Reflection can be a powerful tool in the education system but I wonder if blogging is being hijacked by other issues such as creating a textual avatar or alter ego.

    I’m intrigued by reasons for blogging and the results. I’m not a fan of Twitter but I can see how it facilitates networks and connections – and am tentatively tweeting again. Clearly your online identity says much about you and your relationship with the technology that whether you support the idea of an online presence or not it’s probably still worth considering especially for anyone serious about career progression. I’m currently searching for a place for a one-stop-CV-shop – haven’t found it yet and am wondering if e-portfolios are the answer – if so – which one? The search goes on!


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