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the Big Blog Company | The blogger - employer divide
“Who yer callin' a sparrow, you schmuck?!”
The bird on the back.
April 18 2005
The blogger - employer divide
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Company blogs • Marketing & PR • Trends 
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Another article in the New York Times on the topic of bloggers and employees. This time the action is a bit closer to the ‘blog’ home, a Technorati employee, Niall Kennedy gets into trouble, almost.

One evening last month, he channeled one of those off-duty opinions into a satiric bit of artwork - an appropriation of a “loose lips sink ships” World War II-era propaganda poster altered to provide a harsh comment on the growing fears among corporations over the blogging activities of their employees. He then posted it on his personal Web log.

But in a paradoxical turn, Mr. Kennedy’s employer, having received some complaints about the artwork, stepped in and asked him to reconsider the posting and Mr. Kennedy complied, taking the image down.

Apparently, bloggers like Mr. Kennedy are starting to realise that corporations:

… are under no particular obligation to tolerate threats, real or perceived, from the activities of people who become identified with those brands, even if it is on their personal Web sites.

Interesting, I am not sure what it means to ‘tolerate threats, real or perceived, from the activities of people who become identified with those brands’. Obviously, there is confidential information and privacy issues but as far as the ‘brand’ is concerned, if an employee is making fun of it, well, it should be a useful signal to the ‘brand’ creators that something is not right.

Strange that years after the Cluetrain, the blogging world can put up with an argument based around the assumption that brands belong to the corporations, which spend millions of dollars protecting their brands.

… this isn’t about us and them. It’s about us. Them don’t exist. Not really. Corporations are legal fictions, willing suspensions of disbelief. Pry the roof off any company and what do you find inside? The Cracker Jack prize is ourselves, just ordinary people. We come in all flavors: funny, cantankerous, neurotic, compassionate, avaricious, generous, scheming, lackadaisical, brilliant, and a million other things. It’s true that the higher up the food chain you go, the more likely you are to encounter the arrogant and self-deluded, but even top management types are mostly harmless when you get to know them. Given lots of love, some even make good pets.

I am starting to think that Chris Locke was a bit too optimistic about the management types after all.

The point is not to condone doing something stupid as an employee, just because he or she has done it via a blog and blogs are groovy, doncha know, so that must be OK… It is about the idea that there must be just one approved voice coming from the mothership. Such ‘voice’ has always been a fantasy perpetuated by ‘brand strategists’ and blogs have made it clearer that while such a voice has never been credible, it can no longer be imposed.

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