Editorial: Self-Publishing Online and Professionalism

 

special endnote about anonymous and personal speech

 

Since the autumn of 2005, the media has barraged us with a number of alarming reports about the dangers posed the misuse of online profiling sites (like myspace.com, facebook.com, and a few others) by high school and college students. This concern extends to publication of personal information in online blogs and a variety of personal websites or individually owned domains, and possibly other kinds of materials such as participation in videos.

 

Of course, this concern is being noticed by employers. Since about the time of 9/11 and the eruption of several major corporate scandals (in 2001 and 2002), it has become more common for employers to monitor the activities online of both current employees or associates and job applicants. And these activities would specifically target activities off the worksite where the associate draws attention to herself in public. It appears that this "screening" often occurs without the applicants' knowledge and may lead to their exclusion before they are even contacted for interviews.

 

There are a number of apparent reasons for employers and schools to do this. The most obvious concern is security. This would be particularly the case in the post-Columbine, post 9/11 world, and, particularly for schools, the concern is exacerbated by the flood of other media reports (particularly NBC “Dateline”) about sexual predators in chatrooms and the use of webcams to promote child pornography in chatrooms, all of which represents a technology distinct from blogs but that may be perceived by the public as implicating all online activity. In the security area I have started to wonder if landlords will start perceiving the "tribal wartime" risk of a “Salman Rushdie” or even "Orson Welles" problem (this comment now applies to the Danish artists (up to twelve) who authored certain cartoons offensive to Islam) from the activities of publicly controversial tenants (beyond what companies today typically find on various specialized personal-behavior-related databases like evictions). Other valid concerns would be the unintentional and indirect contribution to a hostile workplace liability by an associate’s comments, and the distraction of customers or other stakeholders. But the most interesting concern by employers seems to be an emerging idea that intentionally creating a high public profile (particularly using socially provocative material in order to make oneself an online "celebrity" and claim a "right of publicity") is “unprofessional.”[1]Even if one's content were objectively valuable, the fact that a particular job candidate would be concerned about a particular controversial topic could be viewed as an indication of an undesirable personality motivation for the job. Social networking sites like myspace.com, in fact, advise their members not to identify themselves--good advice to teenage minors, for whom learning to use a public resource like the Internet should be seen as a maturity-based process like learning to drive a car, whereas adults should be able to make informed decisions on the degree of buzz they want to create about themselves. Media reports about this issue convey the tendency of the general public (and perhaps employers) to confuse legitimate social and political debate with other motives like social networking and outright sexual solicitation. One major technique that would help is if social networking site companies would do more to limit their memberships to those associated with groups of specific schools (facebook has pretty much done this), and treat a social networking mechanism as something more like a corporate intranet, not (unlike a political debate site or blog) something intended for the entire planet. There is confusion in the debate between the view of personal blogs and sites as literary, and seeing them as merely a public conversation -- that might be overheard by the wrong people. The media has started characterizing the problem as a tradeoff between free entry "fame" (which might encroach on established turf) and privacy, especially of family members or coworkers connected to the speaker in the public's eye.

 

Before delving further into this perceptual paradigm shift about personal web authoring, it’s important to review some of the perils associated with the exposure to inappropriate online posts. I don’t think that there is much controversy in saying that students (and teachers) should not post sexually provocative pictures on the Internet, admit to illegal alcohol or drug use, or publish residence addresses. If you want to be contacted for legitimate reasons, use your own cell phone number (although cell phone spam could become an issue in the future), and use a post office box or mailing service company like Mail Boxes Etc. (or use domain name private registration). However, be aware that there are “skip tracer” web sites that publish residential addresses of individuals even with GPS satellite photos of their neighborhoods, as well as providing “background investigation” searches. (Even these sites could have legitimate uses, as for debt collection when practiced legally). 

 

Employer concerns actually bifurcate a bit. They can have legitimate issues (even beyond the obvious perils of disclosure of confidential information or trade secrets) if a person with publicly visible responsibility or direct reports causes a disruption or legal exposure (such as hostile workplace or discrimination claims) within the workplace because of leakage of statements made in a public space. They also may view a person's public statements as an indication of character, values, personality, or fit for a position that may have adversarial or competitive aspects; in this since, a web presence can come to be viewed as like "clothes."  A person's public activity might well convey as dislike for competition within business or social hierarchies, and attitude that, however morally compelling, might indicate a misfit for many positions. Some employers might view the inclusion of "personal stuff" (even outside the workplace) in a public space as provocative, even though the speaker may feel that the personal narratives give more authority to the speech.  

 

What about the First Amendment? Generally, our freedom of speech laws deal with preventing the government from interfering with speech. There are many wrinkles, however. It is not clear that individual self-promotion speech has the same protections as speech from the recognized “press”, and a lot of free speech law (as we know from the Boy Scout cases) has to do with expressive association and not individual speech. Moreover, the First Amendment protects speakers from government, not from private employers or private property owners. With public employees, there is quite a body of law protecting speech, even on the job. With teachers and students, this law has a lot to do with whether the speech at hand would cause disruption to the learning environment (the Tinker and Pickering-Connick cases). In mainstream corporate employment there certainly is a legal tradition requiring employers to focus on what would affect an associate’s performance on the job. (The issue is complicated a bit by a 2006 Supreme Court ruling removing some internal public employer workplace speech from First Amendment protection.) But in an interconnected world “on the job” becomes an omniscient concept.

 

What about the size of the Internet and the tens of millions of blogs, profiles, and personal websites? Can one person's site really make that much difference or stand out in such a way as to cause a "real problem"?  Sometimes it might, because it is easy to design sites so that search engines pick up provocative, if legally acceptable materials. Sites can be "socially engineered" to create major stirs even without deep pockets or having played by the old competitive rules of turf. That creates big time psychological issues for some people.

 

Indeed, it’s important to understand the significance of the use of search engines, particularly Google. It used to be that a webmaster coded keywords as metatags on a web page so that search engines would find them. For several years, that has been unnecessary. Particularly with Google, and combination of words on a page can come up in at least what Google calls a “supplemental” search result. So combinations that would alarm a careless gumshoer can appear. A result for “John Doe sex offender” does not mean that John Doe is a sex offender!  Static pages, which may be more common on personal than corporate sites, tend to get indexed easily, although in recent years Google has been able to index dynamic asp’s and particularly PDF documents. Google caches these documents (and converts PDF to hmtl in separate copies), so that even if the webmaster removes a document it may be found for a very long time.  One way to remove a document is to replace it with a dummy file but leave the hyperlinks in for the robot to pick it up.

 

Google has also creating controversy by initiating the practice of search published book text, with the cooperation or publishers and authors, the level of which is itself controversial. We have heard litigation about the proposed Library Project. Amazon may have also added to controversy with its “search inside the book.” So material that originally could be found by hand searching the content of a printed book (in a library or preferably after purchase) now may be easily found on search engines with almost no cost or effort.

 

One obvious observation is that many individuals have the same or similar names, and therefore careless searching (however short of actual "Google hacking") by employers is certainly unethical; it may "implicate" the wrong persons. A “Google hacking” practice might be unfair to employees with unusually spelled names. Pennames (and anonymous speech, vigorously defended these days in some ACLU litigation) might help a writer escape this practice, but then their use would reduce the effectiveness of what he or she says. Employers should announce their "blogging policies" to associates and job applicants, particularly in their online job application processes. Employers should also tailor these policies differentially according to the responsibilities of particular jobs within an organization.

 

In terms of personal exposure, web references to an individual by third parties, often made with good intention, as with bibliographic links to an obscure piece of writing, help contribute to the impression that a person’s name leaves with a searcher. This is particularly true when the references come from personal sites, that may be more static and permanent than corporate sites which are often archived quickly. Technically, Internet content follows the same tort law (with respect to copyright, libel, invasion of privacy and right of publicity) as does printed matter, but the practical effect of referential material, even if legally innocuous, on individuals could be much greater.  

 

Having said all of this, we come back to the notion of “professionalism.” This is a cultural value in the workplace. To the average person, a “professional” is an individual upon which he can depend for a vital service. That is, a physician, dentist, attorney, CPA, financial planner, life insurance agent, perhaps real estate agent, even professor or teacher. This may be an individual who “hangs his sign” or who is employed by an organization or a member of a professional group. It is also common to speak of “sales professionals” in many industries. Of course, intelligence and law enforcement professionals and particularly military personnel must often maintain low personal profiles. Journalists present special issues because the public expects to trust them for objectivity. I know of a case where someone who removed his personal site when he was elected district attorney for a small town.

 

This notion of professionalism tends to assume that the employee has some significant contact with the public and represents the interests of the company or employer to the public.  In many circumstances, the idea assumes that the associate has direct reports, speaks to advocate the position of his employer to the media, or particularly makes decisions (giving grades or making underwriting or other professional decisions) about stakeholders. A person's professionalism conveys to customer that the person will not otherwise behave in a manner that ultimately undermines the best interests of the customers.

 

Reputation used to be a decentralized concept, based on resume, work history, education, professional licenses, job performance appraisals, references, track history of customer comments and, for some professions, family and social connections. The Internet tends to draw all of these elements together. There is a risk that stakeholders, given human nature, can (with search engines as the main accomplice) carelessly misread an online posting in a blog, profile or personal website and that such misinterpretations can stilt a reputation, or create the impression that a professional would not address certain matters on his own in public. A significant problem is that the prejudices of others can affect how they perceive the author of any material, however valuable when viewed more objectively, that they find. So public reputation and online reputation, is somewhat distinct, are certainly well linked concepts. An employer will fear great damage from a single “skunk at the picnic” and very much fears climbing “blowback mountain.” It’s easy to see, then, that an employer would be concerned that a person who “draws attention to himself” on his own, particularly in online spaces with no supervision, can dilute his effectiveness or credibility in communicating his professional services or in serving the needs of his customers. There seems an inherent ethical contradiction here, and in 2006 we are only now beginning to debate it as media reports of problems rapidly accumulate. Employers will feel inclined to judge a person's suitability for a particular job by what a person says online, as if the writings or images comprised a kind or Rohrshach or personality test, or at least provided the additional "sartorial" evidence of how someone presents himself. (Perhaps Thomas Carlye's Sartor Resartus paradigm applies!) Employers with sensitive positions may also believe that personal websites give an insight into possible future behaviors that a candidate or associate might have a "propensity" to engage in, even when there is no conviction record or no objective evidence of such behavior in the past. For example, a school district could feel that a particular weblog or profile shows an unhealthful or disturbing interest in legally underage "almost adults" when screening teachers. This kind of think is similar to what drives "don't ask don't tell" with respect to homosexuals in the military.

 

In information technology, the culture has always been more wide-open, and after all I.T. and highly individualistic culture helped create the Internet, search engines, and the whole phenomenon of extreme self-expression. I.T. tends to attract more introverted persons (like me), who do not like to use mediate what they say just to sell something or to manipulate people. The culture of the I.T. world has favored the individual contributor, and the most important value is accuracy of work—very careful testing and implementation and support—as well as curiosity.  The idea of how people “feel” is much less important in I.T. than in more “people oriented” fields that generally are more familiar to the media. Nevertheless, jobs that emphasize individual contribution have been more easily outsourced, and persons from I.T. culture have had to adjust to the new reality that personal connections and credibility matter today more than they used to in the past—and, guess what, online profiles and blogs affect credibility. I.T. culture, however, has tended to praise technical curiosity for its own sake, and sometimes, with what it sees as libertarian intentions, looks at political controversy as superfluous.

 

There is one other major cultural issue here—the family. Younger people, and people whose sense of self came into being during the information age, have greater expectations of self-expression than did members of older generations.  Persons of older generations or persons in some religious areas of the culture wars place a lot of psychological importance on the loyalty of others to them in the context of the family unit and of religious identity. They feel that a person’s personal self-promotion can reflect poorly on an entire family. They see the kind of unsupervised self-expression that the “Google generation” promotes as disrespectful to their whole sense of common identity, which is what they grew up with.  The "family responsibility" question helps us perceive a subtlety in the whole debate about self-promotional speech and professionalism: if one is accountable to other specific persons, it is easier to gauge the risk that one's soap box can inadvertently pass on to others. The family concerns reflect a cultural shift from old-fashioned tribal thinking to modern, very individualized ideas about personal responsibility. In the middle of all of this, of course, are GLBT issues, for which free speech has become some important.

 

I could summarize all this and say that what you do with blogs, profiles and personal websites depends a lot on your own situation. Of course it does. The Slayter article mentions a site ziggs.com (run by Tim DeMello), which posts profiles (that look like visually attractive resumes with just a touch of social engineering), with the idea that a company can manage a professional’s online presence, in order to manipulate "what people think." A dangerous corollary of that idea could be that an employer might expect an associate to allow such a company manage his or her online identity. Some employers will be very concerned about the inferences one gleans from one's appearance online (just as the inferences from the appearance of a resume or interview suit -- or, for that matter, visible body art or a "tattoo"), compared to the objective value of what is written or shown online. Certainly, if you are a young college person or graduate student planning a professional career, it’s very important to bear in mind that your online appearance may be more important in the coming years than it has been until now. That is what makes this "myspace problem" so difficult for many people to grasp, and keeps it outside of normal legal debate. It is not about the objective content of speech, it is about what may be inferred about the motives and loyalty of the speaker with regard to others around him. This whole "secondary publicity" problem would be especially relevant for jobs involving direct reports over others or in jobs with high public profiles. However, consulting companies that place (even) individual contributors as consultants with customers might also want to manage the "public image" of their consultants.  Ironically, high school students taking SAT's and AP English reading tests know all about "context" and inference.

 

There is, however, a place for having an aggressive presence on the Internet, if one is determined to advance a particular cause or particular public goal and is willing to make the sacrifices (and hopefully has the pockets). In my case, I am making a sequence of concentric social and political arguments that started with the debate over “don’t ask don’t tell” and gays in the military, and are glued together by some unusual personal experiences that occurred in a particular sequence and present a particular irony. (The name of the notorious military policy conveys some of that irony for everything, as does the name of my website.)  At age 62, there is enough substance to this that I want to sell it; there would not have been that kind of track record at age 25. Self-published and spontaneous material often gets to make subtle observations (as about family responsibility and personal identity) that get overlooked in practically everything published by more established media sources and even by advocacy pressure groups and lobbying organizations (which by definition cannot be objective). There is no question that my publishing paradigm can produce valuable material that would be hard to produce in more conventional and accepted channels.

 

Nevertheless, I can see a cultural storm brewing over the way people (including, yes, me!) post materials on the Web with no supervision. With the explosive growth of blogging and profile sites this has until recently been perceived as an unofficial “fundamental right,” in this country implied by the First Amendment. This is not so much a question about censorship (as is the litigation over COPA – the Child Online Protection Act, with which I am involved) as it is about the mechanism of self-publication and a cultural idea of when someone has a right to be heard. Many people believe you should not speak up until you prove you can “compete” in a “normal” context of forming, raising, and fighting for a family. A related idea is that you have to “pay your dues” by advancing in business by competing in a conventional way. Of course, the Internet has challenged all of these notions, as individuals reinvent themselves with a wide range of ethical self-control (sometimes, unfortunately, no self-control, as we see with problems like spam).

 

There are questions in some people’s minds about the legitimacy of materials self-published this way as literature, and such questions could conceivably have legal consequences down the road. For example, if someone self-publishes a fiction crime story and that crime is imitated, in some states it might be possible to accuse the person of soliciting or of being an accomplice.

 

 There is a certain danger now that now some employers will want to restrict the right of their associates to speak on their own about anything, but in some kinds of jobs this more restrictive culture may be necessary.  But this comes down the old-fashioned cultural dissonance and, for me, a test of my own commitment to rationalism and objectivism.  It would seem that speech earns its right to be heard only when the speaker can demonstrate accountability to others as people; yet such personal commitment can undermine the objectivity of the speech; so we have a real moral paradox. Ultimately, this sounds like an old fashioned problem: who has the football? Who controls the turf?

 

Elsewhere on this site, I have promoted the idea of employee blogging policies, keyed to the job that an associate as and whether or not the associate's job involves public relations, direct management, or decision making about others. Unfortunately labor laws of some states (like New York) could make this a risky thing to implement, so the legal environment only encourages employers to handle this problem under the table, with Google.  Employers may want to bifurcate the issue, and distinguish between the objective legitimacy of an associate's own content and intellectual property, and the conduct of publicly posting the content in an inappropriate contest. Should employees, when using a public searchable space, be expected to limit themselves to what they could say in person at work, or perhaps even in social settings around other associates or subordinates or customers? Maybe many employers would see it that way, but with social and political issues this hardly seems to be an inclusive enough advice. Employers should consider blogging policies carefully, announce them in advance to associates and applicants (change some state laws if necessary),  and take into consideration the public scope and horizontal span of each job, differentiating the policies with respect to these different jobs. 

 

An Endnote about Anonymity and "All that Personal Stuff"

 

(3/11/2006)

 

The tone of media reports about the dangers of online activity places a large emphasis on the dangers of identifying oneself on the Internet and on providing personal narratives or information. The focus of this concern would of course be especially with minors and especially when people provide sexually provocative materials, and this view is of especially noteworthy concern for school districts. However, many people are now interpreting the use of any personal material, or even identifying oneself as a private individual in association with legitimate political issues as somehow inappropriate thing to do, even for most adults, a major reason being that doing so must inevitably involve peripheral others against their choice. To what extent does one own his own life, or his own right of publicity? Some commentators have suggested that speakers remain anonymous, and the ACLU has certainly been vigorous in defending anonymous speech. However, as we know from entertainment and publishing law, sometimes someone can be easily identified just from the circumstances of a narrative, and anonymity has not always been respected in legal situations.

 

Again, we need to understand the nature of political and social debate. Courts have repeatedly said that they cannot resolve all issues, that some must be resolved through democratic processes. Conventional "texbook" research is certainly important with respect to debating issues (most of all GLBT and other civil rights issues), but personal narratives often add a spin, urgency, and moral subtlety to the debate of an issue, and the benefits of this content richness cannot be realized until people take the risk of speaking up. It is true that personal speech entails some risk, and there is an unfortunate paradox that sometimes individual have to, at least in theory, jeopardize others to fight for their own rights or dignity--and yet that very observation invokes ideas like the heckler's veto and giving in to the prevailing self-protective prejudices of others. This observation certain provides one reason why people organize and have lobbying groups and organizations to speak for them, and yet these political pressure groups, by definition, must remain partisan and cannot maintain the intellectual objectivity of some individual speech.  I think a deeper problem has to do with the notion that one would not involve oneself in public controversy if one perceived sufficient personal accountability to others, and that kind of accountability is so closely tied, in our culture, to marriage and family and heterosexual motives. Are we heading toward a cultural doctrine where the right to be listened to has to be earned with accountability? It seems that the acceptability of internet activity may well depend not just on the objective legality of the content but also on the public and familial situation of the speaker. 

 

Special thought should be given to the possibility that a speaker may surrender legitimate legal rights with voluntary statements made un a public space (the Wed) with "free entry."  It is well known now that a few people have been convicted for offenses based on their "bragging" on personal blogs (such as for drug use or underage drinking).  What is more subtle is that persons may be inviting others to behave prejudicially against them (and possibly others associated with them). If persons allow themselves, under free entry, to be connected to behaviors against which there is extreme social animosity (even because others read their materials carelessly), they conceivably could forfeit the rights to defend themselves against libel or especially "false light" invasion of privacy torts later. This possibility -- a kind of "First Amendment in reverse problem" -- is very unclear, new and undeveloped at this point, but employers and particularly university and school administrators seem concerned about this possibility with respect to students and even teachers. Rather than have to edit of self-censor their work because of the subjective reactions of others, persons in publicly sensitive jobs should consider limiting their own speech to going through third parties or to members of a known list on a virtual office or restricted access private network.   
 

There are legitimate personal, social, political and legal interests that come into conflict with the way people now want to use a public space with little barrier to entry. These include free speech, objectivity in debate, accountability to others, and security. Attempts to limit objective and personal speech in public spaces could be motivated by a political desire to force everyone to "compete" by the same "rules" (with familial turf motivation), regardless of their specialized talents. All of these elements require rethinking at rather basic philosophical levels.

 

©Copyright 2006 by Bill Boushka, subject to fair use

Go to new essay on Blogging and the Workplace at billboushka.com

Go to review of AMA's Blog Rules by Nancy Flynn

Go to blogging policy      notes about blogging    “listened to” essay

“freedom of speech” essay   “conflict of interest” essay

controversial issues page   2000 essay on employee personal publishing 

databases keep tabs on people

Here is the link for Myspace.com safety tips for users.

 

07/19/2006  Letter to the Washington Times: “Employers Need to Publish Blogging Policies.” (split over two pages)  1   2  or here for original

 

 

Go to controversial topics page

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[1] Mary Ellen Slayter, “Maintaining an Online Profile – and Your Professionalism,” The Washington Post, Jobs Section E, "Career Track", February 12, 2006, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/11/AR2006021100446.html  The visitor may have to pay the newspaper a subscription or purchase fee to view this article, which may become archived. (home page link http://www.washingtonpost.com )

Andy Serwer presented a report on CNN "In the Money" on Feb. 25, 2006, in which New York University job placement specialists reported anecdotal stories of students being told that employers had looked at their profiles, especially within the past year. The report advised caution on, besides intimate personal informal, conveying strong political or religious beliefs--as if that were somehow "unprofessional"--again, who wants the turf?

The company that she mentions (Tim De Mello's) is Ziggs.

 

Also, ABC "Good Morning America": On March 16, 2005 Tori Johnson on ABC News gave a story about employers googling applicants, particularly college graduates. Her story "Dusting Your Digital Dirt: Your Online Web Pages Can Cost You a Chance at a Job" at http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Careers/story?id=1729525&page=1 

Another controversy that comes to mind would be umbrella insurance, offered by auto insurance companies. "Entertainers" are excluded, but if someone has become a public person on the Internet without making money at it, is that person an "entertainer"?

 

Paul Marks has an alarming article "Pentagon sets its sights on social networking sites" in the June 9, 2006 New Scientist, at http://www.newscientisttech.com/channel/tech/mg19025556.200.html  "I AM continually shocked and appalled at the details pepple voluntarily post online about themselves," Jon Callas, a chief security officer of PGP, a company that develops encryption software. The article maintains that the National Security Agency is also mining social networking sites (and personal weblogs and sites like this) for "dots" to connect in terror plots, just as it is mining phone calls. "You should always assume that everything you write online is stapled to your resume. People don't realize you get Googled just to get a job interview these days," Callas is quoted as having said. The development of the semantic web and the Resource Descriptive Framework (RDF), which aims at classifying and "labeling" data has the possibility of offering companies the ability to "spy" on people for social conformity.

 

The Washington Times has a story by Jacqueline Palank, July 17, 2006, "Face It: 'Book' no secret to employers; Social sites used as background check." http://www.washingtontimes.com/business/20060717-124952-1800r.htm   I say more about this story at http://www.doaskdotell.com/content/blog.htm

 

Steve Taylor, "Seeking Secrets In Cyberspace: To surf or not to surf when checking candidates: that can be the question." Staffing Management, Society for Human Resource Management, July-September, 2996, p. 16. See the link above.

 

Brad Stone, Newsweek, Aug. 28, 2006, "Web of Risks," discusses some incidents with Facebook, as a college student at Emory was expelled after writing was was misinterpreted as a threat, and of students rejected by employers because of inappropriate personal profiles showing underage alcohol use. Facebook is supposed to be localized (not available beyond specific schools) but nevertheless, right now, employers seem to be looking at it. 

 

Michelle Andrews has a story "Decoding Myspace" in the September 18, 2006 U.S. News and World Report. The link is http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/060910/18myspace.htm. "It's the coolest hangout space for teens, but parents might be surprised at what their kids do there. Here's how to help keep them safe online."  

 

NBC4 reported, on Sept 6, 2006, that colleges (such as George Mason University and Virginia Commonwealth University) are warning students about the risks of misusing social networking sites in freshman orientations.  Here is the link: http://www.nbc4.com/news/9799380/detail.html  See also the internal link above. The next morning, Sept. 7, 2006, The Washington Post, Susan Kinzie and Yugi Noguchi presented a story, "In Online Social Club, Sharing Is the Point Until It Goes Too Far, where Facebook has taken some personal profile changes and made them into "newsfeeds" although the company maintains this is with customer consent.

 

NBC4 had another report on Sept 14, 2006. This time it reported that some federal agencies were bypassing privacy settings on Facebook to look at profiles under the Privacy Act. The report mentioned a new website that keeps track of this problem, including more firings: http://www.bruinpied.com

 

Even Dear Abby weighed in on an letter answer on Nov. 13, 2006 in her syndicated column, warning that parents are careless in supervising their kids online, that kids use cyberspace a substitute for real interaction with others, and that employers and schools do check kids' profiles.

 

For a Career Digest story on Sept 19, 2006 visit

http://billboushka.blogspot.com/2006/09/career-digest-advisory-on-employers.html

 

http://billboushka.blogspot.com/2006/09/when-it-rains-it-pours-more-on-social.html

 

For comments on copycat and enticement problems, and maybe unemployment insurance:

http://billboushka.blogspot.com/2006/09/jurisprudence-slatecom-column-on-blogs.html

 

Here is another good example. Right now (as of late June 2006 when I entered this footnote), if you google my legal name "John W. Boushka" you get my Blogspot profile as the third entry. The profile has "favorite movies." Right now (as of June 21) the list includes "Edge of 17" and "Kids in America". I think these are great films of their kind and deserve to be on a list. But my including them in a public site viewed as "stapled to my resume" (above) would insinuate in the minds of some people an inappropriate interest in minors. Should what I honestly think ought to be included on such a list be affected by such "practical" considerations? This goes to the heart of the moral issues over free speech. Right now, I haven't decided whether to change them before starting another job search, but I do have a moral dilemma.  Thank goodness, I got a good "retirement" separation package from my last major corporate employer and have reached the age of 62. I think younger people could not get away with this in today's suddenly paranoid climate.  So, one asks, why not shelter the speech from public robots like Google? Because if the speech is worth saying, you want people to find it. That's why I come back to saying, when someone chooses a career (particularly a younger person in high school or college) it's well to consider whether one wants a job with public visibility or public accountability. If so, one might have to stay off public spaces on one's own and let the organizations do it.
 

On th Carlyle work mentioned above, I failed a pop "card quiz" on that work ("Tailor re-tailored") in college freshman English!

Everything is interview clothing, everything is appearances, nothing is real but what is in your mind!

 

See also comment about the TNR Ian Buruma piece about contextual speech (attacking ideas v. attacking people) at this link.

 

On Nov 30, 2006 NBC4 (Washington DC) presented a story about Michael Fertik's new company "Reputation Defender."  There are more details here. This should be distinguished from a related concept that protects branding, "reputation intelligence", discussed here on my blog.  There is also a new blog entry on Reputation Defender itself, here. I also have a blog entry on companies that actually purport to defend digital reputations. A more recent blogger entry about online reputation management by public relations companies is here. (based on a Washington Post story "Calling In Pros to Refine Your Google Image" by Susan Kinzie and Ellen Nakashima July 2 p A1).   I have a more recent discussion of this on blogger Jan 28 2008 comparing Reputation to FICO scores as a concept, link: here. George Washington University Professor Daniel Solove has a book on "The Future of Reputation," link here.

 

The new version of Blogger (Push Button and Google) offers the ability to restrict viewers by email address, and other mechanisms will probably be added. Social networking companies are exploring similar techniques. I talk about this some in a New Years Eve blog entry on "chutzpah": http://billonmajorissues.blogspot.com/2006/12/chutzpah-blogs-and-profiles-created.html Also related is http://billboushka.blogspot.com/2007/01/becoming-e-commerce-reviewer.html 

Jan 2007: Incident involving Richmond teacher fired for selling art produced with  body parts (butt) on his own website: http://billonmajorissues.blogspot.com/2007/01/richmond-area-teacher-fired-for-his.html

 

The latest on this is a story in the Washington Post on March 7, 2007, authored by Ellen Nakashima and Meg Smith, about a law student who got no job offers apparently because of content by others about her on a site called AutoAdmit run by Jarret Cohen (Post story here); also a story about a professor candidate Kiwi Camara who apparently lost job consideration at GMU because of a "racist" remark online as a teen: Ian Shapira story in Washington Post April 3, 2007 here;  blogger entry here.

 

A similar story appeared on the NBC Today Show May 27, 2007, blogger entry here

 

For a story on Citizendium, or the Citizen's Compendium, go here.