Magic Smoke

More Places "They" Say You Can't Blog
This story came out on Monday, though it hit Slashdot today, so people are still talking about it: It's an article about how the principal of a Catholic high school in Sparta, N.J., told his students that they had to take down their blogs and Myspace.com profiles or face suspension.

The ostensible reason is to protect students from sexual predators and other baddies who might exploit the personal information kids post online.

A laudible goal, no doubt, but come on: A blanket ban on blogging outside of school? Extreme, and unworkable (or have you not dealt with any teenagers recently?)

In a similar vein, Wired News ran a story about how more employers are blocking people from reading blogs at work, ostensibly (there's that word again) to keep employees from posting proprietary info on boards and blogs, among other reasons.

One of those other reasons is the fear of lost productivity. AdAge (registration required) has a new study out about how U.S. workers will waste the equivalent of 551,000 years reading blogs -- you can read a Andy Lark's writeup of the report.

On the face of, it might not seem unreasonable. After all, you might not want your office drones frittering away their valuable work hours on gossip blogs or sports blogs or whatever.

The problem with blanket bans is that they can also filter out the stuff that's actually useful.

Now, granted, I work in the industry, so it's only natural for me to be reading blogs at work -- it's part of my job.

But blogs are a tool, and they're a tool that companies can use for information sharing (see my post on Internal Blogging).

Plus, no matter where you work, there are blogs talking about your company, competitors and industry, written by people who use your products or services or do thethings that you do.

Check out Shel Holtz's thoughts on this (blogged, course) and the Catholic school blog ban.

In my own uninformed opinion, blanket bans on blogging or blog-reading just can't last, any more than bans on websurfing, IM, e-mail or listening to music (on headphones, at a reasonable volume) lasted.

Given enough time, they're just going to be too widespread and too useful for companies to block entirely, and the more agile companies are going to figure out how to adapt these technologies (with restrictions or guidelines) for their own purposes. Thanks. -- Joe

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