Spirited Communication

Of Pets & Blogs

Lessons I try to teach my children often help me as well. To combat requests for pet dogs, gerbils, fish and other creatures, I talk to my kids about responsibility; usually that disorients them until I can escape the room. Responsibility and possible disorientation hold true for blogs as much as for pet algae eaters.

It’s easy to look at someone’s blog and think, “I should get one of those.” But before you leap into blog “ownership,” you should answer the same questions that you would ask your child before bringing home a baby Welsh Corgi or other pet:

· Have you considered the long-term impact of this new “member of the family”?

· Who is going to care for it? What care does it need?

· Who is going to clean up its “messes”?

· Can you train it?

Let’s look at each question.

Have you considered the long-term impact of this new “member of the family”? A new pet is cute and fun–for about two days. Then the reality of the commitment begins to sink in. The same is true of a blog. I kept pulling up my first blog post just to look at it. Now I’m disciplining myself to prepare a new blog entry every business day–fitting it into my other responsibilities. In other words, it’s work!

Who is going to care for it? What care does it need? When I asked my kids who would clean the gerbil cage and pick up the dog poop, they shouted, “I will, I will.” Now I have to threaten them before they clean the cage and give the gerbils fresh food and water. I hope the Geneva Convention doesn’t cover house pets, because Salt and Pepper have a pretty strong case against us. Blogs have their own needs–fresh information on a regular basis and attention to comments from readers.

Who is going to clean up its “messes”? No example necessary for the pet side of this example. On the blog side, we can face ethical and legal ramifications from a post or a reply. For example, when I mentioned last Friday that my CIO had been let go, and how communications could have been handled better (more proactively), an email friend cautioned me. “Blogs are unknown territory in terms of legal ramifications, influence, etc. [Remember] that a lot of the people posting are self-employed consultants who don’t have to answer to an organization. That allows them to be riskier/edgier in terms of content.”

Good advice that leads to the final question: Can you train it? Any dog owner knows that the “training” you go through is more to teach you how to behave, not your dog. I’m still new at blogging, so time will tell. I wouldn’t walk my pet too near the edge, and I have to watch where this blog goes as well. I like being close to the edge, but I don’t like falling off without a golden parachute (which I don’t have currently).


  1. Judy Gombita

    I really liked this post, Tom. Not just because you raise and tackle some of the big questions of this new medium, but rather because of the way the post was structured and paced. It reminds me of a well-written op-ed magazine article, thoughtful and contemplative. I appreciated that it draws on your own experiences and observations to illustrate conclusions, rather than relying on external third sources and links to bear out your musings and theories (except for photos of cute dogs, etc.). The title of your posting intrigued me, as I wanted to know how you would justify the connection. (And you did…eventually!) Just like a satisfying read of a newspaper or magazine gets me thinking, agreeing, disagreeing or wanting to know more, so do I look to find blogs that demonstrate original thought and “debate,” whether it be self-imposed or via the comments section. Keep posting like this and I’ll be a satisfied reader. And maybe even comment again.

  2. Allan Jenkins

    Welcome to the blogosphere, Tom. Looking forward to reading your reportage from the conference.

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