Monday, July 13, 2009

Quoted in ST article, about Twitter (or "How I deal with angry situations if I'm blogging about it")

Last week, ST journalist, Serene Luo, emailed me asking if I could provide some comments for an article she's rushing out. Because some of her questions had to do with NLB's official policy, I cleared the request with NLB Corp Comms. They said OK.

Jitters over Twitter

For a concise version of the ST story, check out "Jitters over Twitter", 9 Jul 09.

In essence, she asked my Corp Comms if NLB has a corporate policy on new media. The full story quoted the NLB as saying there was one, which came out first quarter of 2009.

During the phone interview, Serene asked me what I kept at the back of my mind when writing a blog post, especially if I was angry. Here's what appeared in the article:
Blogger Ivan Chew, who is a manager at the National Library Board, said he tries to treat each blog post as an e-mail: 'Once you put it out, there's no taking it back.' Asked what he would keep in mind when writing a post, he said: 'If I'm writing because I'm angry, I'll save it as a draft and revisit it when I'm more calm. There are better ways to resolve issues.'

This reminds me -- when I first started blogging, I was always conscious of these points:
  1. Why do I want to blog about it?
  2. Is it my business to talk about it?
  3. If I do blog about it, am I willing and able to live with the consequences?

Asking "Why" is to make sure I write/ blog for the 'right' reasons. Of course, what's considered 'right' might be personal and subjective. But essentially, the Why question serves as an intellectual Stop sign at a traffic junction. To make me pause and think.

For the "is it my business to talk about it" part, it's to remind myself that my "work-related" posts deal with things that are meant to be publicised.

I'm also mindful not to jump the gun and tell the world things that my employer has not made public yet, even though the information eventually is meant for public consumption. I'd consider if my employer intends to issue a public announcement.

If yes, obviously I'd wait for that and then link to the news. If no, I'll often check with my own colleagues and bosses, just to be sure. I don't consider this being overly cautious. What I want to avoid is for good intents (on my part) to be misunderstood and avoid unnecessary grief to colleagues and myself.

The #3 "am I willing to live with the consequences" question is useful particularly when the answer to #2 is not so clear-cut. So far I've not faced such dilemmas. In many ways, this #3 personal guideline is to ensure that while I'm no rebel, there's a balance to ensure I can speak up if the situation warrants it.

Make sure my statements can be backed up with facts. Or if I'm making claims and subjective statements, then one doesn't have to be confrontational. I've always maintained a big part is about How we write, in addition to What.

I tend to trust my intuition (as I'm sure more reflective bloggers/ writers tend to do). If I still feel doubts, I'd go back to consider #1. That's usually enough for me to consider not posting it. Or simply re-writing it to review the tone.

Above all else, I should probably add a #4: apply common sense and respect.

It doesn't really matter if one blogs or Tweet. Substitute the words "blog" or "tweet" (or any social media action-word of choice) with "Talk".

You know, I wonder if NLB would ever make the policy public?

Imagine a page on the corporate website, with a public link to the corporate new media guidelines/ policy. And a list of employees and their blogs/ Twitter/ Facebook -- personal or official ones (voluntarily added for the former).

Librarians 2.0!


  1. A good revisit to the basics. If blog/tweet = talk, then why should we have a policy? Do companies have policies on how we should conduct normal daily conversations with each other in the world? Common sense, right?

  2. Good point. I think it's because conversations are ephemeral whereas written communications are more damaging. Hence the need for explicit policies.

  3. Why do I want to blog about it? To excite comment or get things off my chest. I may have been lucky but I have never been provoked thus far by a post or a tweet. Some things I can recall "ruffled my feathers" a bit - and I just let a silence fall which in itself can be quite eloquent.
    Who am I when I want to blog about something (I have many personas - the critic, the fan, the beginner etc.). It up to me (if only for entertainment sake to check that I try to keep a sense of proporation related to the "voice" I have decided to use.
    Is it my business to talk about it? This depends on the role I perceive myself in - for instance as a blogger I position myself as a esoteric professional and do not see the elements of my everyday work as at all important to my blog persona)
    If I do blog about it, am I willing and able to live with the consequences? Again a considered blog post knows what it is doing - I like to think that I am a "reflective" blogger not just a self-publicist/narcissist or someone who needs to let off steam inappropriately (call me lucky if you like)

  4. Hi Hazian, you write of "roles". I think that's very true. The answers to the questions I posed largely depends on the roles we see ourselves in. Good points!


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