Vast Active Library and Information Science blog. From a recent library science graduate in Wellington, New Zealand. A focus on reference and current awareness tools and issues, especially free, web-based resources.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Blogs no longer safe for work - Wired  
From Wired News comes this story about companies blocking employee access to blogs. I'm not talking about employees running their own blogs on company time, which is a definite no-no as far as I'm concerned. I'm talking about banning employees from reading blogs. The reasons given don't even make sense:
Keith Crosley, director of corporate communications at censorware company Proofpoint , says there's no anti-blog conspiracy at work, but that some companies have higher security, privacy and regulatory needs that require greater diligence over what companies can and cannot do. In particular, companies worry that employees might leak sensitive material -- perhaps inadvertently -- while posting comments to blog message boards.
Right. Your employee is breaching privacy by reading a blog? The security issue I can understand, but frankly, if you emply someone dumb enough or malicious enough to give away company secrets in a blog comment, that person is going to give away your secrets some other way, whether down at the pub or in a phone conversation. Blocking the technology will not help you here.

The article raises another issue, that of lost productivity through reading blogs. This seems like a case of staff needing guidance, rather than blanket bans on blogs. I read blogs at work - most of them are related somehow to my profession, though not necessarily to my current work. I treat them as a downtime, a chance to relax and stop concentrating on work for a few minutes. Other people might go for a walk round the office, or a cigarette break, or read the paper or have a chat in the kitchen. I read blogs. This shouldn't be a problem for reasonable employers, as long as the employees are getting their work done.

Most importantly, though, is that blogs are becoming increasingly important as sources of information. I'm responsible for media monitoring at work, and in at least some instances I find things on weblogs that I've missed in the mainstream media - or that the mainstream media itself has missed. I can't afford to ignore blogs, so it seems to me that banning them is very short-sighted.