I fully admit that this has been written five months after I began blogging (I have dated it April 2005 so that it does not come out as my latest blog, although it probably will do if anyone has me on their RSS feed). It’s not as if I’ve had anyone emailing me or leaving messages asking me what I’m really trying to achieve with my blog, but I felt an urge to summarise what I intend to achieve through using what I believe to be a very interesting and addictive form of communication.
To me, there are three clear aims to my blog. My three main reasons to blog, based on post-hoc rationalisation, are as follows:
1) Blogs relates to my research interests
Around a year or so I began to hear of stories of bloggers who had either been fired for blogging about their work, e.g. Queen of the Sky and the bloke who publishes the Woollamaloo Gazette, or, had evaded such punishment, yet generated a great deal of (negative?) publicity for their employer, e.g. Less Reasons to Shop at Morrisons. It was here were I came across Tom Reynold’s Random Acts of Reality and AnyTown NHS Trust – both of which where regularly mentioned and given warm reviews in The Guardian newspaper.
I was and still am in the process of finishing my PhD on workplace misbehaviour and blooging about work seemed to offer a perspective I had never considered before. I looked up these blogs, bookmarked them, and before I knew it a list of five quickly grew to around 20 or so thanks to someone who directing me to the Anonymous Work Blogs ring. As of September 2005 I have about 430 on my blogroll and I expect it to carry on growing.
I haven’t actually integrated work-related blogs into my thesis, but I have mentioned that most employers would almost certainly class blogging about work without their permission as a form of mischief. Some, no doubt, would probably not care too much, but a minority may classify it as much worse than mischief.
2) Work-related blogs need to be researched
Currently very little has been written about work-related blogs, although a recent example includes Talking From the Inside Out by Edelman and Intelliseek. Academically, work-related blogs are a truly barren area and there is no reason to suggest that work-related blogs are simply about mischief. However, where exactly do you start researching such a new phenomenon? What is more, how should someone with relatively little experience of research begin such a project, especially as I should be concentrating on my thesis?!
As I am busy with my thesis until the summer of 2006 I decided that the best approach would be to gather as much data and information I can before applying for a research grant, etc. My blog essentially is where I keep my resources on blogs – whether they are links to blogs themselves, or, just links to articles I have come across in the press, etc.
I have also set up an on-line questionnaire to try and gauge what work-related blogs are about. There are ten questions designed to get a preliminary picture of what the work-related blogging phenomenon may be about. Incidentally, I didn’t think for a moment that work-related blogs were about one thing – sounding off about work. The data from about 190 returned questionnaire confirms I was correct, but the data has also opened my eyes to things I couldn’t possibly have imagined, nor could I have got such insights from reading every relevant blog I came across. Stay tuned for my research findings!
It’s also a resource for anyone else interested in researching work-related blogs, whether they are academics, HR or management practitioners, journalists, etc. or just bloggers wanting to know more about the phenomenon for themselves. However, if you do use it then please acknowledge me in some way!
3) A good source of work-related news
Part of my job requires that I stay up-to-date with issues related to work – so why not use the blog to store links to articles that interest me and could be used for teaching purposes – see my three teaching blogs: Employment Relations, Employee Resourcing, and, People Management. It also saves printing them out and photocopying. However, I also post links to work-related news for a number of reasons.
Firstly, this may be naïve of me, but when I started the blog I thought that people who blogged about their work may be interested in work-related news. I have reason to believe this is true, but I can’t confirm it for sure, i.e. the statistics and a few comments only tell me so much.
Secondly, I’d like to make a contribution of my own to the blogosphere in that I may not blog about my own work, but I can blog about something that really interests me. Hopefully, the audience for my blog appreciates work-related news, but again, I have no way of knowing if this is the case bar the odd welcome comment from time-to-time. Thanks to all that have taken part so far – much appreciated!
Thirdly, I want my blog to be read on a regular basis. So, blogging regularly about work-related stuff and blogging is my ‘hook’.
Fourthly, I wasn’t aware of this at the start, but I’ve yet to find a blog like mine, certainly from the UK. I know LabourStart have an excellent resource on work-related issues, but they are mainly related to trade unionism and industrial relations. I want to blog about work-related issues that cover the trivia as much as the stories that report on major changes in the world of work. Please let me know if you are aware of a similar resource and I will gladly retract my claims!
Lastly, I want my blog to be educational – in the loosest sense! I’ve long since had the belief that work-related news does not get the attention it deserves. I’m not laying claim to a conspiracy against such news, but work-related issues are far too important to be relegated to a relatively low-level status, i.e. it needs a freely available and dedicated outlet as well as forming a part of everyday news. Work-related news isn’t sexy, but trust me, it is a subject you can get into if you make the effort. I also believe that being savvy about workplace issues is the key to making the most from work, in whatever capacity that may be.
In brief, I believe that my blog serves a number of purposes, but the overall purpose falls in line with the what I sense is the true nature of blogging – a collective and non-profit medium for sharing valuable and objective information that may or may not be freely available elsewhere.
I hope you enjoy reading my blog and feel free to offer comments on any of the above, or anything else that come to mind.
James Richards (23 September, 2005)