Thou Shall Not Blog

graphic representation of YouTube banned access copyright Lorelle VanFossen

Bloggers Rights graphic by Lorelle VanFossenOver the years, as blogging has grown from fad to trend, I’ve traveled the world talking to other bloggers, many sharing stories of how they were confronted with new job contracts, agreements, and policies that state: Thou shall not blog.

My first response is always, “Why not?” Oh, I get an earful. It ranges from business practices to government limitations, and everything in between.

Here are some of the reasons why many people can’t blog.

Violation of Non-Disclosure

Let’s face it. We’re human. We make mistakes. We go forth with the best intentions and screw up. Often without thought. Knowing this, many businesses won’t risk the slip you may make as you free-wheel your thoughts publicly and disclose some of their proprietary information. Fear of disclosure is a huge issue for companies, a big incentive to bring out the papers for signature, banning blogging.

And there can be big money in such disclosures, too, an incentive for those to blog trade secrets.
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Fighting Bloggers Take the Heat

In Do You Avoid a Fight by Chris Garrett here on the , he talks about bloggers picking fights or avoiding them, explaining how you can learn from those who disagree with you:

Those people, once calmed down, are extremely valuable to you. They are a chance to see another side, to improve what you do, to clarify your thinking. This is why you must always mean what you say and say what you mean.

If you really believe in what you write then you can welcome the chance of debating your point. That is not to say you should go looking for a fight, but if a fight finds you then you can be prepared for it.

I love criticism, when it is helpful. If you challenges me on an issue, I may not like what you have to say, but you have a point and you are welcome to it. I will listen, sifting it through my personal value sifter, and maybe you make sense. Maybe I can learn from the criticism. I’ll thank you one way or the other because I value my readers input that much.
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Does Your Religion Influence Your Blog Writing?

In my husband’s family home, there is one resounding rule: Never discuss politics nor religion at the dinner table. While I’ve tried to keep that rule on several of my blogs, I’m about to break it.

There are a lot of bloggers who blog about their religion, but the bigger question is how much your religion influences your blog writing? Does it?

There is a whole industry of religious bloggers blogging on their religion. I haven’t found a united umbrella organization, but they are a growing industry as more and more religious evangelists and educators take to their blogs to share their faith with the world.

For these bloggers, their purpose is to blog about their faith. But what about the rest of the believers in a particular faith who blog. Does your religion influence your blogging style and writing?
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If You Want to Start Blogging, You Have to Get Up and Dance

Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.
~Dave Barry

When I wrote in Blogging Is About Writing on Problogger that readers will forgive writing mistakes if the blogger is passionate and knowledgeable about their subject matter, a lot of people stood up and applauded virtually. They loved the idea that you don’t have to write perfectly to blog, but it helps.

Is it necessary for every blog to be perfect and have a purpose? Honestly, like the quote above, you do not have to dance well, you just have jump in and dance.

It’s your blog. Do with it what you want. If it feels good, do it. Party hearty! Party on, Garth!

Must You Blog? Then Blog

I’m still in Israel as I write this post, and I’ve met a lot of old friends who listen to me talk about blogging and WordCamp Israel. After a few minutes, they lean forward and say, “I’m probably the most ignorant person in all of Israel. Forgive me. What is a blog?”

I explain that a blog is a website that isn’t a static billboard but a conversation on the web.

“Should I get one? Do I need one?”

“Do you?”
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Blogging With Conviction

Whatever you say, say it with conviction.
Mark Twain

Don’t you love reading bloggers who write with conviction? I do.

According to Merriam-Webster, conviction is “a strong persuasion or belief.”

In Are You Blogging Through Rose-Colored Glasses, I wrote asking you if you blogged through colored glasses, a perspective that “colors” your blog writing style and presentation of your ideas. Now, I want to know if you blog with conviction, putting your strong beliefs and power of persuasion into your blog posts.

Do you?
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Bloggers Who Blame Don’t Change Things

In Placing Blame Where Blame Deserves to Be Placed, I wrote about how many bloggers throw blame on the wrong personal or company and how we need to be more responsible when we use our blogs as weapons of blame and guilt.

I recently ran across the following quote:

When you blame others, you give up your power to change.

Douglas Noel Adams

Many bloggers use their blogs to complain, blame, and get a little revenge, but does it make a difference? Sometimes.
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Are You Blogging Through Rose-Colored Glasses?

Twoflower didn’t just look at the world through rose-tinted spectacles, Rincewind knew – he looked at it through a rose-tinted brain, too, and heard it through rose-tinted ears.

Terry Pratchett, The Light Fantastic from the Discworld series.

As you write your blog, you are viewing the world through your lens, your filter, your perspective on the issue. Like Twoflower, is your view so narrow that you are blogging through your ears and brain as well as your eyes?
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The Blog is Mightier Than The…

I’ve been thinking about the power of blogging lately. It’s amazing how blogs and the openness of the web has helped communicate what is going on in Burma, in spite of the governmental shut downs, and blogs growing in popularity in Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, and other places in the world where “freedom of speech” can come with a jail sentence. As I prepare to leave next week for WordCamp Israel, October 25, 2007, in Tel Aviv, I’m reading the blogs of many Israelis. A saying keeps echoing through my thoughts: The pen is mightier than the sword.

Credited as being first said by Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 play, Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy, I’ve seen many variations on this, but I wonder if anyone has yet said, “The blog is mightier than the pen and the sword.”

Just doesn’t have the same punch, does it?

Still, the ability of the written word to influence and change the world has been around for thousands of years. Its power increased when the word became portable, traveling from place to place as the population spread around the world, bringing the preserved words of the past with them.

Today, the written word is virtual, which could mean ephemeral, but it’s not. It is still made of sharp metal when used properly.

As I contemplate freedom of speech, blogging, and this old saying, let’s look at how that famous quote has been used by others to make a bigger point, and how it applies to blogs.
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Blogging Your Convictions


Steve Jobs doesn’t give a shit what anybody else thinks. Neither does Google. Or Craigslist. For all the love-festing around “social,” “sharing,” and “community,” mosts of the biggest successes of recent years have been driven by a singular vision, rather than “collective intelligence.” As Nick Carr pointed out:

Jobs, in fact, couldn’t possibly be more out of touch with today’s Web 2.0 ethos, which is all about grand platforms, open systems, egalitarianism, and user-generated content. Like the iPod, the iPhone is a little fortress ruled over by King Steve. It’s as self-contained as a hammer. It’s a happening staged for an elite of one. The rest of us are free to gain admission by purchasing a ticket for $500, but we’re required to remain in our seats at all times while the show is in progress. User-generated content? Hah! You can’t even change the damn battery. In Jobs’s world, users are users, creators are creators, and never the twain shall meet.

Which is, of course, why the iPhone, like the iPod, is such an exquisite device.

Does Apple do product testing? Does Google do UI testing? Do these companies constantly improve their products based on user feedback? Of course they do. But the end result is the product of one or a hand full of minds with a vision of how things should work. I’m not talking about refusing to listen — I’m talking about at taking it all in and arriving at your own conclusion.
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