Like many people I have read extensively about blogging and its rise to legitimacy within certain circles of journalism. Furthermore, I have been an active member of the online world since the late 1980s and consider myself more than a simple technology enthusiast. Lo, I would have gone as far to self-apply the label “digerati” during the go-go dot-com days of the late 20th century. In fact, I was fortunate enough to appear in Wired Magazine on one occasion thanks to a brief and illuminating online correspondence with Sun Microsystems Co-Founder (and then Chief Scientist) Bill Joy regarding his infamous prophecy titled Why the future doesn’t need us. I have also dabbled in online journalism on more than a few occasions as a function of my professional life with fine publications such as The Chicago Sun-Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Computer Guide, NetChicago, ePrairie, and others.
However, as a productive and reasonably successful member of corporate America and a voracious consumer of mainstream media, I have witnessed more than a few instances of heavy-handed disciplinary activities on the part of employers who have felt it their obligation to police the opinions of those directly or indirectly in their employ. To be fair, there are a great deal of people in the United States who have misinterpreted the key protective principles of The First Amendment and find themselves enjoying other fine governmental benefits, such as unemployment insurance benefits, after particularly foolish journeys into copyright infringement, slander or even hate speech. While I have never possessed a desire to become a raconteur for radical fringe dialog and would be an unlikely poster child for corporate blasphemy, I have also been acutely aware of the fact that the states in which I have found myself employed adhere strongly to an at-will employment doctrine. Therefore, my blogging aspirations have remained in the closet untested and unfulfilled.
My change in perspective was very subtle, although significant. I was reading a Reuters article from their “Oddly Enough” section on my Treo titled Royal couple edited own Wikipedia entry. While the article itself is not nearly as interesting as the title may suggest, the fact that someone within the royal household was both interested enough in setting the record straight (if you could call Wikipedia “the record”) and possessed the technological wherewithal to do so is impressive on a few different levels. The fact that governments agencies were also credited with performing the same activities is much less absorbing since “spin control” has become a full-time job for highly compensated professionals masquerading under more innocuous titles such as public relations or political strategy. No, this was something entirely different. It is on par with a member of the monarchy sneaking out of the palace in the dead of the night to mingle with his or her subjects. Long has the Internet been credited for bringing both information to people and people to people, but this was the example that made it real for me.
With that I have spent the better part of the hour considering for the first time “what” I should say on my heretofore fictitious blog rather than “why” I should (or should not) say it.