My Thoughts: Robert’s statement on embarrassing yourself

I separated this because it’s a different topic. Robert Scoble posted this on his blog [ no longer online]:

By the way, what’s wrong with embarrassing yourself? If you really are going to be transparent and react to a global conversation that happens within minutes you’re bound to embarrass yourself.

It’s what you do after you embarrass yourself that matters.

The problem with that is that the average employee would be fired. Most companies aren’t going to allow an employee to embarrass themselves and the company. There is a big difference in embarrassing yourself in a personal situation and embarrassing yourself in a professional setting.

Robert, your blog is a personal blog in which you talk about work. This works for you but most people can’t successfully pull this off. Most companies are small businesses not large corporations. Small businesses can’t afford for employees to do what you do. A negative post from an employee could be extremely damaging to a small business.

I’ve always thought that personal and business issues ought to be separate. For example, have the Microsoft employees write whatever they want to write on the Microsoft blog site, so readers can associate their posts about work related issues directly with the company…where they belong. Posts about personal situations (IMO) should be in a separate area because they have nothing to do with work.

It gets to the point where a reader is bombarded with a bunch of stuff they aren’t interested in. The more blogs a reader is subscribed to the greater the problem. Why? Because if bloggers put everything in one blog, without categories, it makes it hard to manage the feeds. There are some blogs where I am interested in the blogger’s personal life and not their career. There are others that are the reverse. When I read a newspaper if I’m not interested in sports I can throw out the entire section. When I am browsing a website if I am not interested in a particular section I don’t click on the link. Not so with RSS – right now it’s all or nothing because most bloggers aren’t doing their part to help the flow of information.

I think as aggregators evolve the ability to filter the “junk” will be more important. Eventually bloggers will have to categorize their site or split the content. I think it is fair for a company to say “We endorse blogging but all business relating posts must be on our site, not your personal site”. Matter of fact, I think it is a wise move. Let employees talk about their job honestly in corporate space.

Now if companies wise up and let that happen, then employees will be much more careful about embarrassing themselves and the company. It doesn’t mean the employee shouldn’t be honest. I would love to see bluntly honest discussions on a employee blog that the company hosts. I would love to see clearly marked employee comments responding to employee posts and interacting with readers and users. Then seeing that conversation expand to other bloggers. To me, that has the potential to be one heck of a conversation…that everyone could follow. Yes, this is sort of being done now, but not efficiently.