I got an email yesterday from a graduate student wanting me to answer a few questions about blogging. Her class is studying blogging as a form of organizational communication. Her questions got me thinking about why I blog, so I figured I’d share my answers to her questions here. I’ve written about this before in a previous post, so some of my ramblings below may be redundant. I’d be interested in how other bloggers might answer her questions, and I imagine any additional input from other blogger’s couldn’t hurt the student’s project any either.
When did you begin to blog, and why?
I first began my Business Blog in March of 2004. I used it primarily to promote library resources to business students. I could point students to the blog in each library instruction class that I taught, so they could go to the blog to find appropriate resources for their projects. I now have a wiki that points students to more broad business resources, so now the Business Blog is expanding into business topics and current issues as well.
I began my professional blog, Library Voice, in January of this year. I was reading blogs of other librarians for quite some time, and I wanted to contribute to what was going on in the blogosphere. I really didn’t have many expectations for a huge number of readers, I just wanted a place where I could put my own ideas down in writing.
Does your job require a blog, or is it your own personal choice?
Blogging is my own personal choice. The Business Blog was another way for me to reach out to students and faculty at my university. We are required to maintain library research guides that list popular subject resources, so I used the Business Blog to complement that.
My other blog, Library Voice, was a personal choice as well. I liked what I saw going on in the blogosphere, and I wanted to contribute to the conversation. While I write mostly about work-related matters in this blog, everything I write about is my own choice.
Do you write your blogs at work or elsewhere?
Posts for the Business Blog are written entirely at work.
Posts for my personal/professional blog, Library Voice, are written at both home and work, but mostly at work. I see blogging and reading other blogs as a way of keeping up with what is going on in my profession. As a business librarian, web author, teacher, bibliographer, and tech enthusiast, I read a lot of blogs to keep up. Writing about my interests helps me to further understand what I’m reading and to apply what I’ve learned.
What is the primary purpose or aim of the blog?
As mentioned above, the Business Blog was originally designed to point business students to sources for particular projects. It is still used to promote business reference sources and databases, but it now has a current awareness aspect to it as well.
In Library Voice, I blog about issues in librarianship, technology, and education. I use the blog primarily as a way to keep up in these areas. Writing about these topics helps me to formulate my own ideas about the issues, as well as contribute some to the conversation.
Does your company have any policies or guidelines about blogging?
Not currently. I guess an unwritten policy would be that I never write anything that I wouldn’t want my boss (or future boss) or my colleagues (or future colleagues) to read.
Are your blogs monitored by your organization?
Not really. I imagine my colleagues or superiors may have read a post here and there, but there really isn’t anyone policing what I’ve been writing. I don’t blog anonymously, so having my name on everything I write keeps me honest. I also write a great deal about what I am doing at my organization (which is no secret, either) so I try to represent the organization well.
What inspires you to blog?
For my Business Blog, I really get inspiration from the students. They are the primary audience of the blog. I try to write things that will help them in their projects, and I try to keep it interesting to them. Since I’m using the blog now to for current awareness of business topics/issues, I try to blog about things that they may find interesting.
For Library Voice, I get really inspired by the conversation that takes place across the blogosphere. It really is amazing the way topics and issues get batted around on different blogs. Everyone has a voice, so you’re bound to have multiple perspectives on the same topic. I’ve also met several great folks in my field through blogging. Bloggers like to share, and I’ve contacted a number of fellow bloggers, and they’ve contacted me about various things.
Do other members of your organization blog?
Yes. We’ve got quite a few blogging librarians. We’ve got:
The News Blog
The Art Blog
The Communications Blog
The First Year Experience Blog.
Is blogging for you an act of self-empowerment?
Well, I suppose I like going back and reading what I wrote about a topic, and it is sort of cool to see what you’ve written. I like writing about issues that interest me, and I like keeping up with what is going on in a variety of areas. So perhaps the keeping-up aspect of blogging is more in line with self-empowerment, as I do feel empowered by the knowledge that I get from reading others’ ideas and blogs. The actual writing, for me, is more about wrapping my own thoughts around a particular idea, a form of self-expression and self-discovery.
Do you feel you can write about anything and not be judged? Have you ever “vented” or wrote about negative feelings toward your organization?
My mama taught me, “If you can’t say something nice about someone, then you’re better not saying anything at all.” I try to live by that, but of course, it is often hard to follow. My thoughts are, if you’re going to be writing something negative about your organization, then you better be thinking long and hard as you write. It’s easier to say something bad and be forgiven, because everyone has a loose tongue every now and then. People mess up and speak before they think. But to actually put those thoughts in writing requires a considerable more amount of thought and effort.
Others may disagree with this, and perhaps say that I’m being a coward. However, I’ve never been much for confrontation. I try to solve problems at the source. A problem would have to be pretty huge for me to go and blog about it to the whole world.
Do you feel like you are writing for yourself, or your audience?
With the Business Blog, I try to write for the audience. It’s geared towards faculty and staff in the College of Business, so I try to write about things that will interest them. I also try to use the blog to promote resources that we pay a lot of money for, so that drives what I write as well.
For Library Voice, I mostly write for myself. I like how putting something down in writing can help flesh out some ideas about things. To a certain point, I am also writing for an audience, which in general is the library community. However, I have to clarify that I’m not writing for, as Indiana Jones would say, “Fortune and Glory.” Rather, I am writing to share ideas about issues in librarianship, technology, and education. Sharing is another thing that my mama taught me, and blogging is the perfect medium for it. I’ve learned a lot from other bloggers and I’ve gotten a lot of ideas and have turned some of those ideas into successful initiatives at my library. So for me, blogging is just returning the favor.