Berkeley CSUA MOTD:Entry 38551
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2005/7/12-13 [Computer/Blog] UID:38551 Activity:nil
7/11    The perils of blogging: http://csua.org/u/cog (Kevin Drum)
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csua.org/u/cog -> www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_07/006691.php
Now that it's clear that Karl Rove's defense amounts to some sort of cover-blowing 'I didn't inhale' defense, I thought I'd check in a bit on what his lawyer's deal is. Reason being, as near as I can tell, Rove at torney Robert D Luskin has made a series of, shall we say, contradictor y statements over the last week or so, each necessitated by further reve lations about his client's conduct.... quickly revealed that the true passion of said blogger's life was not academe at all, but the minutiae of softwar e systems, server hardware, and other tech exotica. It's one thing to b e proficient in Microsoft Office applications or HTML, but we can't aff ord to have our new hire ditching us to hang out in computer science af ter a few weeks on the job. what should be do ne to drivers who refuse to get out of the passing lane, what constitut es a real man, or how the recovery process from one's childhood traumas is going. But since the applicant elaborated on many topics like those , we were all ears. It's not our place to make the recommendation, but we agreed a little therapy (of the offl ine variety) might be in order. We were irritated to find out , late in the process, that he had misrepresented his research, ostensi bly to make it seem more relevant to a hot issue in the news lately.... In this case, it was not the candidate's own blog, but that of a boasti ng friend, that revealed the truth. Unsurprisingly, as Dan notes, blogger reaction to this essay has been cau stic. But it's hard to know if the criticism is valid or not because Tri bble is frustratingly vague about the real content of the blogs he write s about. Or did PTG reveal that a typical day included 14 hours a day coding HTML followed by exclamati ons like "Christ, I wish I never had to read another Victorian poem agai n"? Or are we talking about dark and detailed confessions of homicidal urges aimed at close colleagu es? As for Bagged Cat, I'd venture to say that by boasting to a blogger about his illicit puffery, he failed not just the integrity test for a facult y position, but the IQ test as well. However, perhaps because I'm neither a graduate student nor an aspiring m ember of the academy, what struck me was that Tribble's piece is actuall y more a cautionary tale for the rest of us than it is for prospective u niversity professors. After all, universities at least claim to value cr eativity, free speech, and academic freedom even if Tribble's essay conf irms that they do this more in the breach than in the observance. A garden variety commercial enterprise doesn't even pretend to value thes e things, and if you think HR departments don't google prospective appli cants, I suspect you're sorely mistaken. As a result, if you write a blo g under your own name it might well spell trouble on a whole variety of levels. A prudish boss might not hi re someone who brags regularly about their sexual conquests. And fair or not, any boss is likely to be at least slightly hesitant about hiring s omeone who has a habit of telling the world about every little detail of their personal life. Some of this discrimination might be legal and som e might not, but it hardly matters. Atrios wrote about this last week although he focused on a somewhat d ifferent aspect of public blogging and recommended that new bloggers thi nk carefully before starting a blog under their real names. You may not be looking for a job now, but you probably will be someday and you might not be helped by having a widely known an d easily googled public persona. Even deleting a blog doesn't necessarily erase every trace o f it. This advice may seem a bit overwrought, and maybe it is. But blogging is now a far more widely known phenomenon than it was when I started doing it three years ago, and even a harried suburban assistant bank manager i s likely to have heard about it these days. If you decide to go ahead wi th it anyway, that's fine, but at least do it with your eyes wide open. PERMALINK By the time blogs were invented I already had a data trail on the Interne t so gigantic that there's nothing I could do to save myself from it. I don't talk about wor k, I try not to get into the worst flamewars, and I'm a little reticent about my personal life compared to the average LiveJournaller. But if so meone in my future doesn't want to hire Democrats, atheists, Wikipedians or washed-up physics grad students, well, I guess it's my tough luck. PERMALINK At least they'll have trouble tracking me through your comments. My public writing about politics has been around for the world see for se veral years. If an employer doesn't want to hire someone who thinks Dick Cheney should end up at the Hague or New England's winters suck, I gues s I'm SOL. PERMALINK This may be paranoia, but: It would probably take only a few more large-s cale terrorist attacks against the US (trains, planes, things like that) before a new McCarthyism set in -- against all liberals who have public ly argued against Bush's wars. And in that case it wouldn't matter if yo u are a graduate student or on tenure track, Kevin. PERMALINK Everything you put on the internet is forever. It's long been a truism that you shouldn't put anything in an e-mail that you wouldn't write on a postcard. It's even worse than postc ards: nobody's going to take an incriminating postcard, reproduce it fif ty thousand times, and spread it across the planet. A few people with we bcams have learned this the hard way. I'm well aware that something I write may come back and bite me someday, and I try to keep it in mind. The alternative is to slap controversial o pinions down on the table under a phony name, which has always struck me as a bit cowardly, however logically sensible it might be. I don't rout inely put my full name here so I don't get Googled to death (I do use it on a few other boards), but I've made no real secret of it. I don't know if I'd want a job where I'd have to pretend to be somebody I 'm not. PERMALINK I've tried the compromise (not very imaginative, I know) of using part of my real name. It seems to be a fair balance between exposure and anonim ity for now.... PERMALINK I don't want to make it sound like I think this will become an epidemic o r anything. Most employers don't really care how much you rant and rave on your own time, especially in the tech sector where an awful lot of my readership works. The stuff you write on a blog might end up getting read by a prospective employer, and it's worth considering how that might play out before you put finger to keyboard. Especially if you're not the kind of person with such sterling talents t hat you can't be replaced.... If you delete a site, you can request that Google delete the cache of that site. They will check to ensure that th e site no longer exists, and will delete it from the cache. PERMALINK My last boss was a Limbaugh listener and I'm quite sure he would have lik ed me quite a bit less had he known my views on politics. He assumed I w as a conservative, but I just nodded and said little. Every once in a wh ile, I'd assert myself slightly, just to correct something completely ab surd; but normally I wouldn't say anything and wait for it to be over. I don't know what was worse: That I had to put up with that garbage, or t hat he often did it afterhours, when it was time to go home. I'm sure he would have been less than pleased to read what I was writing online. But I would certainly have slipp ed down a few notches in his book. PERMALIN K I came here looking for the latest Rove-ak gossip, and I got a discussion on the merits of blogging! I would posit that many people who are paid to know better haven't exactl y thought through blogging. blog ethos of "skim facts, form opinion, write blog pos t" is not necessarily compatible with academia. Nor is it the way that n on-published writing has to be. But that's what the connotation of "blog ging" is, so people just walk into that trap. Put another way: 10 years ago in school, I would have loved just to be ab le to skim the webpages of all the professors to see what they were curr ently researching on a daily basis. PERMALINK Creativity requires courag...