July 10, 2005 Professional Decorum OK I was going to let the HelpSpot preview be the top post on the blog over the weekend, but I just have to comment on this. Scoble points to a Chronicle of Higher Ed article about how profs who applied for jobs were not hired because of their blogs. I have a feeling he didn’t read the entire article. Here’s why. Having worked in and around higher ed for the last 6 years I understand perfectly that 90% of people who work in the industry have no idea what’s going on in society right now (or for the past 10 years for that matter). Scoble, apparently having only skimmed the articles comes to the conclusion that the blogs helped them make the right decision about not hiring. However, a closer read shows their true colors. Take this gem of a quote: ” Worst of all, for professional academics, it’s a publishing medium with no vetting process, no review board, and no editor. The author is the sole judge of what constitutes publishable material, and the medium allows for instantaneous distribution.” Um maybe it’s just me but isn’t that the beauty of blogs? Isn’t that what makes them so powerful? That there isn’t a committee that goes over every word of my post figuring out what is “proper” and what is “correct”? More good stuff: ” We’ve all done it — expressed that way-out-there opinion in a lecture we’re giving, in cocktail party conversation, or in an e-mail message to a friend. There is a slight risk that the opinion might find its way to the wrong person’s attention and embarrass us. Words said and e-mail messages sent cannot be retracted, but usually have a limited range. When placed on prominent display in a blog, however, all bets are off.” This really shows their true colors and why higher ed is in so much trouble. Rather than know what someone is actually like they much rather everyone stick to the party line so that no opinions find there way out into the public. OK a bit more: ” But the site quickly revealed that the true passion of said blogger’s life was not academe at all, but the minutiae of software systems, server hardware, and other tech exotica. It’s one thing to be proficient in Microsoft Office applications or HTML, but we can’t afford to have our new hire ditching us to hang out in computer science after a few weeks on the job.” So what you’re saying is that passion isn’t an attribute that you look for in profs? Anything more than knowledge of Office scares you? You’re of course also drawing the conclusion that because this person publishes on their blog about technology that they don’t know about anything else and that they’ll be running off to the CS department after 1 day on the job. OK, please start banging your heads against your desk right now before you start reading this next paragraph. Yes you’re sending your children to be WITH these people and it’s costing you $100K to do it! ” The content of the blog may be less worrisome than the fact of the blog itself. Several committee members expressed concern that a blogger who joined our staff might air departmental dirty laundry (real or imagined) on the cyber clothesline for the world to see. Past good behavior is no guarantee against future lapses of professional decorum.” Is this the bloggers/profs problems or yours? If your department has so much dirty laundry in it that you’re worried about the new hires blog then your problems are alot bigger than a blog my friend. ” More often that not, however, the blog was a negative, and job seekers need to eliminate as many negatives as possible.” Well when you’re worried about covering your own ass more than if the person is qualified I could see how it’s a negative. Obviously I could go on and on. Mostly it just makes me sad as I know alot of folks at my previous job who could have easily written this article. So Scoble, do you really think this is a positive? Do you really think they got it? I don’t. I think they were intimidated by someone willing to express their opinions without editors and committees. I think they don’t want a “loose cannon” running around. I think they want to hold on to the status quo as long as they can. I don’t know if the people who applied were qualified, but I can tell you that the people who interviewed them weren’t. Not to teach our children in todays society.