UNMEDIATED WORKPLACE IMAGES FROM THE INTERNET: AN INVESTIGATION OF WORK BLOGGING

Paper presented at: 25th International Labour Process Conference Universitiet van Amsterdam 2-4 April 2007-03-31 Presented by: James Richards School of Management & Languages Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh EH14 4AS Telephone: +44 (0)131 451 3043 Email: J.Richards@hw.ac.uk

Abstract
The paper addresses the deficit in our understandings of the growing phenomenon of work blogging. Work blogging is investigated in the context of developing Internet communication technologies, almost blanket use of the Internet by the youngest cohort of workers, and changing Internet application. The approach involves content analysis of postings taken from a sample of 744 work-related blogs and qualitative questionnaire data from 204 work bloggers. The findings support the many views taken of work blogging put forward by media reporters and the scatterings of blog-related research currently available. The findings also explore self-reports of work bloggers, which conflict to an extent with how work-related blogs are viewed by other interested parties. The paper dwells on the future of work with a call for wider research to investigate whether rapidly developing and easy to apply Internet communication technologies can augment human powers of organization and integration.

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Introduction
Despite there being numerous media reports of people discussing what happens in their workplace in the form of a blog (shorted from Weblog), little else seems to have been done to research this emerging Web-based phenomenon. Where such blogs and their owners have been discussed in the media they have been on the following lines. The most common way in which the media has reported on people who blog about their work is to suggest work blogging is some sort of nuisance to businesses (Spencer, 2005). Indeed, several employees have lost their jobs by writing about management or colleagues, or whatever else they said, did or thought about while at work that day. Some portray blogs as Websites that give unpleasantly honest reviews of life inside corporate houses (Chynoweth, 2005). Put differently, ‘spilling the beans’ and providing frontline news from the modern workplace (McClellan, 2004). However, in more recent times, there seems to have been a re-evaluation of the initial media line taken on certain work-related blogs, particular of blogs written by front-line public sector employees. For instance, a recent article in The Guardian (January 4 2007) suggests certain blogs, such as The Policeman’s Blog and Random Acts of Reality (written by a London Ambulance Service technician), are beginning to shape public attitudes about public services because of their capacity to bypass and undermine official sources of information and authority (Butler, 2007). At first appearance it would be all too easy to associate this phenomenon with what Ackroyd and Thompson (1999) call organizational misbehaviour, or even whistleblowing (Miethe, 1999). While media reports indicate that blogs are to an extent about employee misbehaviour and whistleblowing, it would be inappropriate to give a new phenomenon an established label without further investigations. However, there has been very little research conducted on work-related blogs. In contrast to abundant media reports, the research is sparse by comparison, yet where it has been conducted, offers a far more balanced and impartial view of the practice of blogging about work. For instance, Hoel and Hollins (2006) believe employees who are allowed by their employer to blog about work on work time could represent a further means by which organizations can harness the tacit knowledge of workers. Gely and Bierman (2006), however, suggest people who blog about their work can potentially play a part in ameliorating the increasing social isolation of American workers. A further working paper that considers a handful of work bloggers by Schoneboom (2006) implies that blogs can be a forum for resistance in that workers use their blog as a buffer against the company’s attempt to secure their hearts and minds. Therefore, work blogging seems to be more than first anticipated; yet little has been done to address the general deficit in our understanding of a widely acknowledged phenomenon. What

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is more, the current research does not seem to connect the growing phenomenon of work blogging with matters of much a wider significance.

The interests of labour and an evolving Internet
It would probably be inappropriate to deliberate the relevance of workers blogging about their work without considering some wider technological and social changes that coincide with this recent development. In technological terms, blogs are believed to be associated with the growing influence of ‘Web 2.0’. There is no strong consensus of what constitutes Web 2.0 technology, but a generic view is that it involves techniques employed by Websites that rely on individual users for content (Biever, 2006). For example, blogs, but Web 2.0 technology also extends to RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds, podcasts, wikis, instant messenger, file-sharing, tagging and voice over Internet protocol (for an overview and discussion of these technologies see, e.g. Kolbitsch and Maurer, 2006). The main feature of Web 2.0 technology is that Internet users who have limited computer skills need no longer be the passive recipients of Web-site information (Kolbitsch and Maurer, 2006). As a result, blogs and their like note a paradigmatic change in how users apply the Internet. This is believed to represent quite a different way by which the Internet can be explored by individual or even collectivised workers. It certainly appears to be a means that has been currently overlooked by labour researchers. For instance, recent research that assesses the opportunities for workers in the Internet age has focused on trade union communications with their members and affiliates (Martinez Lucio, 2003; Bjorkman and Huzzard, 2005) and trade union renewal (Diamond and Freeman, 2002). A further emerging body of literature comments on Cyberspace as a medium for misbehaviour or cyberslacking as it is increasingly commonly referred to (e.g. Beard, 2002; Lim, 2002; Mahatanankoon et al, 2004). In reality, there have been few detailed case studies of workers using the Internet in a new and creative fashion to deal with the daily challenges typical of modern day employment (e.g. Carter et al, 2003; Pliskin et al 1997). In short, more research needs to take account of how workers, as individuals or collectives, are exploiting a new range of Internet-based communication technologies. In social terms, around 20 per cent of American teenagers keep a blog and around 38 per cent read them (Lenhart and Madden, 2005). By far the biggest use for blogs is for sharing selfauthored content. Statistics for blog use by British teenagers is not as developed as it is in the USA, but more general research suggests 83 per cent of those in the 16-24 age group regularly access the Internet (compared to 52 per cent for the 55-64 age group) and a significant part of
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that time is spent on ‘other communications’ (National Statistics, 2006), such as blogs and other forms of social networking sites like MySpace, Bebo and FaceBook. Currently, Internet access is available in 57 per cent of all households (up 26 per cent since 2002) (National Statistics, 2006). It also believed that nearly all employees who are ‘office based’ have access to the Internet/email (Whitfield, 2005). However, while the Internet can be accessed by workers at home or at work, it has not gone unnoticed that teenagers and young adults are regular users and content creators for this new technology. Indeed, employers, for example, are becoming increasingly aware that there may be value in vetting potential employees though such channels (Berry, 2007). In brief, while blogging and on-line community building appears to be increasingly embedded in the culture of the youngest generation of workers, we simply do not know how, why and what effect this medium of communication may have on their experiences of and attitudes to work. In other words, could blogs be an emerging forum for resistance? Could blogs or similar technology allow younger workers (and older ones too) to share grievances or strategies to deal with difficult workrelated situations? To explore these unknowns we must at the very least consider the content of such blogs and ask of certain bloggers why they make work a focal point of their Internet activity. Clearly, all of these issues cannot be addressed within the confines of a brief research paper. Indeed, even a brief introduction to and investigation of blogging is likely to command more space than an average research article. Having said that, broader social and technological changes should play some part in an investigation of work blogging. In short, the aim of the paper is as follows. Recent advances in the Internet, most notably through new forms of Web-based communication technology associated with Web 2.0, and their use by people to further their working or employment-related interests, has been neglected by critical researchers. The paper explores one particular angle of the interaction of workers and Web 2.0 technology, that of the work-related blog. The first section briefly considers a number of matters related to blogging. This includes statistical evidence and broad explanations for the uptake of blogging, a descriptive overview of a blog, and a brief review of the broader, yet equally sparse literature on blogs, blogging and bloggers. The second section outlines the research methods used to investigate work-related blogs and the bloggers who create these forums of communication. The third section involves the presentation of the findings. The final section compares the two sets of results against previous research. The findings are then summarised and suggestions are made for future research.

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The emergence of blogs
As Blood (2002b: 7) notes, in 1998 there were just a handful of sites of the type that are now identified as blogs. By October 2006 a handful of sites became 57 million blogs and represents a phenomenon that has doubled every six months for the past three years (Technorati, 2006). Certain industrial experts believe there may be as many as 100 million in existence by late 2007 (Gartner, 2006 quoted by BBC News, 2006). However, further research suggests around twothirds of all blogs had not been up-dated in a two-month period (Perseus, 2007). Further blog statistics suggest around 30 per cent of the population regularly read blogs, yet 60 per cent of the public have never heard of blogging (Rainie, 2005). This suggests blogging represents the existence of a very large hidden subculture, noted by several million bloggers and many more who read blogs, that exists unbeknown to the majority of people. In maintaining such a large sub-culture, most bloggers (59 per cent) are believed to spend around one or two hours tending to their blog, although one in ten bloggers dedicates ten or more hours to this activity (Lenhart and Fox, 2006). Having said that, there are no firm statistics, as of yet, that explore the extent to which employment is a theme of blogs. However, as the chief executive of an organization that has overseen many reports on blogs suggests, "We all complain about work and our bosses. And the ethos of the blogosphere is to be chatty and sometimes catty and crude" (said by Lee Rainie of the PEW Project, quoted in Joyce, The Washington Post, February 11, 2005). Therefore, in a hypothetical sense, people who work and have a blog are likely to mention their employment in some capacity. Yet, looking ahead, when today’s teenagers become adults, and work inevitably becomes a more central and energy consuming part of life, then importance of blogs as a medium to discuss work-related matters can only increase manifold. For some media observers, the rise of blogging has been likened to the next step in a burgeoning culture of narcissism spurred by reality TV and other elements of the modern media environment (Lenhart and Fox, 2006: 1). In broader scholarly terms, however, the field of an emerging Internet society is limited (Castells, 2001). What is more, as Haythornthwaite and Wellman (2002) suggest, the danger is, as the Internet ceases to be equated with the Dot.com boom of the midto-late-1990s and becomes part of everyday existence, all interested parties are in danger of taking it for granted. Having said that, it is vital to note that for some, increased and normalised Internet use, whether this involves blogging or not, is believed to be about people findings news ways to do old things in line with changing lifestyles (Anderson and Tracey, 2002). Therefore, the emergence of blogs and similar communication technologies, could be seen as a new means by which information systems and networking can augment human powers of organization and
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integration (Castells, 2000: 23). However, a competing way of looking at an emerging Internet society is one in which Internet use of this kind represents people searching for a new identity, as old identities are dismantled by the broader technological progress of the present capitalist age (Barglow, 1994). Accordingly, it seems we must understand the proliferation of blogs in terms of new replacing old, but we must also be mindful that blogging may be just one means by which people try to discover themselves during an era of increased social atomisation related to global socio-political and economic change. Definition of a blog The generic definition of a blog constitutes a user-generated Website where entries are made in journal style and displayed in reverse chronological order (Wikipedia, 2007). The definition is useful in a technical sense, but reveals little of the many forms by which a blog can take. For instance, Blood’s (2002a) definition of a blog offers a much broader and cultural insight in to blogging:
Weblogs are filtering the news, detailing daily lives, and providing editorial responses to the events of the day. For many people, a weblog is a soapbox from which they can proclaim their views, potentially influencing many people that they can in their everyday lives. For others, a weblog is a creative space that allows them to experiment with the tools of the Web itself, or to document their offline projects for anyone who in interested. Some webloggers use their weblogs to tell personal stories, others to keep in touch with faraway friends and family. Businesses use weblogs to communicate with employees, and freelancers use them to build their reputations (2002a: x-xi).

Other definitions are less specific, but revealing nonetheless. For instance, Trammell and Keshelashvili (2005) believe blogs to be a virtual environment controlled by the author, where, unlike face-to-face communication, a person is only what is expressed in manifest content. In contrast, Lenhart and Fox (2006) simply liken bloggers to being the Internet’s new storytellers. However, for some it is what blogs are synonymous with that holds the greatest potential to understanding their current rise in notoriety. For instance, Hewitt (2005) believes blogs are about breaking the monopoly of information and communication of large corporations and government. Hewitt’s statement suggests the most likely explanation for why employers or personnel specialists are believed to find work-related blogs so unpalatable. It seems, therefore, in the broadest sense, that blogs constitute a certain technology that differs from traditional Websites, yet continue to have distinct technological limits. It seems that a blog is by no means one thing and is only limited in another sense by the imagination, creativity and
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perseverance of the blog owners. However, there are likely to be some constraining factors. As such, a blog that diarises work-related events is as likely to be defined by the nature of work, as it is to be defined by all of the above. In brief, as Noon and Blyton (2007: 2) encourage their students to view work, a work-related blog is probably going to contain strong reference to the effects of being managed: the experiences of employees in organizations as they cope with the strategies, tactics, decisions and actions of managers. Such stories are also likely to reflect the plurality of interests at work, missed out or overlooked by many sociologists aligned to mainstream management disciplines (Castillo, 1999). Therefore, it is proposed, prior to investigations, that a work-related blog is an unmediated account of an employee’s experience of, and interests pertaining to, his or her employment. Anatomy of a blog Due to time, space and relevance descriptions of blogs are kept to a minimum. For a far more significant discussion of the many characteristics of blogs sees, for example, the detailed dissertational work of Lenhart (2005), Nowson (2006) and Dan Li (2005). As can be seen from figure one, a blog appears to be very similar in style to a standard Web-site. Of particular note is the title of the blog and with it the option of a sub-title. The main characteristic, attraction and purpose of the blogs are the postings. Figure one shows only one posting, but the homepage of a blog can contain one, several, or many postings. Postings are typically written, but can also contain photographs or short video files. Most blogging Websites allow bloggers to categorise or ‘tag’ their postings so as to make their work easier to find via Web search engines. Comments can also contain hyperlinks to other Web-based sources, such as to previous postings on the blog, the writings of another blogger, or any other material accessible directly through a simple Web-link. Hyperlinks are typically identifiable by being underscored and often coloured differently from the rest of the text. Postings can also have a ‘comments’ function (in figure one comments come under the heading of ‘feedback’) so that readers of the blog can post their opinion of what was said in the posting. The comments function can also be the point at which a discussion between bloggers (including the author of the blog) can unfold. Further features that distinguish a blog from a traditional Web-site include the ‘archive’ feature that allows the reader to look back at previous postings. In figure one the archive is accessed through a small drop down menu entitled ‘previous postings’. Archives are sorted on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. It is possible for a blog set up only a few years ago to have several hundred or even thousands of archived posts. A characteristic of a blog that is perhaps part of wider blogging community is noted by what is widely known as a ‘blogroll’ – a sidebar of links to
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other blogs and Web-sites. In the case of figure one the blogroll is defined by categories of employment. Categorisation of the blogroll will depend on the blogger. Many blogs look similar in appearance, as most bloggers are unfamiliar with the programming language that forms the basis of many Web-page features. In such instances, bloggers are often limited to changing features such as colours, text size and the order and specification of their postings. Blog sites (Blogger.com in the case of figure one) often provide a limited range of similar templates for the blogger to choose from. More advanced users may add features to their blog, such as ‘email alerts’, RRS feed capabilities, ‘badges’ that define membership of a blog catalogue or other definable group, ‘hit counters’ to show how popular or not the blog is, and, some carry advertisements depending on the provider of the blogging technology.

Figure one: A sample blog Blogs, blogging and bloggers Currently, research on blogs and blogging is disparate in character. The nature of current research on blogs is probably related to fact that most researchers researched blogs at a time when few if any research existed on the subject in the first place. As Viegas (2005) notes, for most part, blog culture has been documented by the media and by bloggers themselves.

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Blogging, moreover, appears to be a popular subject for post-graduate dissertations and not in a format that allows wide scholarly circulation. According to Ratliff (2004) blogging became a leading form of communication of the Internet for reasons related to major shifts in the intellectual property landscape in the early 1990s. The first blogs, in effect, were the work of people who designed a certain type of Web-site that would allow the yet to be named bloggers the chance to link to and respond to the proliferation of news stories about copyright, piracy, and what should be considered to be in the public domain. More specifically, Ratliff believes the initial growth of blogs ran in parallel with debates about Microsoft’s attempt to create a monopoly for its operating systems, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (2001), and, popularity of file-sharing applications and peer-to-peer networks. As blogs evolved out of their controversial and political origins researchers noted that little attempt had been made to systematically describe their characteristics. Nor had anyone considered how blogs fitted with standard Web pages and computer mediated communications, such as email. As reproduced in figure two, Herring et al (2004) believes blogs can be represented schematically between two forms of Internet communication that pre-date blogs.

Standard web pages Online journals Rarely updated Asymmetrical broadcast Multimedia

Weblogs Community blogs Frequently updated Asymmetrical exchange Limited multimedia

Asynchronous CMC

Constantly updated Symmetrical exchange Text based

Figure two: Weblogs on a continuum between Web pages and CMC (Herring et al: 2004: 14)

The contribution of this work is in allowing us to see how the rise of blogs represents the bridging of a technological gap between two polarities of Internet communication. The most common genre of blog research emerged as blogging became increasingly mainstream. The genre considered motivations for blogging; whatever was being blogged about. For instance, Nardi et al (2004) examined reasons why people blogged and eventually came up with five motivations to blog. These included blogs to ‘document my life’, blogs as commentary, blogs as catharsis, blogs as muse, and blogs as a community forum. In a similar study, Dan Li (2005) found seven motivations for blogging: self-documentation, improve writing, selfexpression, medium appeal, information, passing time, and socialization. A more recent study
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attempted to break down and stratify the main reasons for keeping a blog. According to Lenhart and Fox (2006) the top reason to blog (with 52 per cent) was to express yourself creatively. Further prominent motivations include documenting personal experiences (50 per cent), stay in touch with friends and family (37 per cent), to share practical knowledge or skills with others (34 per cent), motivate others to take action (29 per cent), to store resources or information that is important to you (28 per cent), to influence the way other people think (27 per cent), to network and meet new people (16 per cent), and, to make money (7 per cent). Some commonalities exist across these research findings, but due to the nature of work, we may expect to find additional motivations to write about such experiences. Further research indicates a number of contradictory findings. By way of illustration, Kumar et al (2004) suggests blogging can be seen as working at three different levels – that of the individual, as a web of friends, and higher still with the formation of blogging communities. However, Blanchard’s (2004) research suggests blogging communities are perhaps a social construct too far. The reason given is that blogging communities may not reach the needed critical mass to make them a true virtual community, as the basis of their formation is commonly over-dependent on the work of one dominant blogger. Consequently, readers of popular blogs may sense they have things in common with each other, but if the blog they admire should cease to exist or radically change direction, then the community could quickly dissipate. Interestingly, however, Trammel and Keshelashvili (2005) found that the key to being a successful blogger involves striving to be likeable in communicating to an audience. In this instance, popular blogs are more about creating an audience by using impression management techniques, rather than working together as a group with common interests. This, again, demonstrates the difficulties of attempting to create a virtual community if popular and influential bloggers pursue stardom instead of peerdom. Further dimensions of blog research suggest gender is a deciding factor in the nature of blogs (Nowson, 2006; Trammel and Keshelashvili, 2005). For instance, women tend to write more in their blogs and use a diary format. In contrast, blogs kept by men tend to have far more links to external news sources and more interest in using their blog to filter what has been said elsewhere. Having said that, research of a psychological nature suggests that few bloggers have a good idea of who reads their blog (Viegas, 2005). As a result of having a worldwide communication outlet, bloggers are in the habit of creating self-imposed and often idiosyncratic norms. As such, rather than adopting common and stable norms like in the case of professional journalists, blogging habits are shaped by whatever interactions come from the blog and how the
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blogger believes it may be read or monitored by others, especially those who may look at the blog, but leave no comments or feedback (referred to as ‘lurkers’ by bloggers). Summary Blogs have clearly proliferated at such a speed that it seems reasonable to assume that the deficit in our knowledge is not due to researchers themselves. However, blogging has proliferated far more amongst teenagers and young adults, and this may explain why it has largely escaped the attentions of researchers, of certain disciplines. Currently, there has been some attempt to deal with the deficit in our knowledge of blogs, blogging and bloggers, but what has been done, in the wider scheme of things, is insufficient. What is more, considering that blogs are by design and initial creation a forum for resistance and sub-cultures, it is surprising to learn that labour researchers have not done more to explore this growing and increasingly mainstream phenomenon. It appears, moreover, that research into blogs, blogging and bloggers may be vital if we are to understand how the youngest generation of workers (and perhaps some older ones too) are exploring their experiences of work in the Internet age. Having said that, it would be fair to say that research on work blogging is likely to have a wider appeal than critical labour studies.

Research subjects, data collection and analysis
The quest for research subjects revolved around the sourcing of blogs that contained strong references to matters of a work-related nature. Blogs with mild reference to work or overly complex and technical detail were not considered for the research. The process of sourcing began in early 2005 with little more than a handful of blogs who became know to the researcher via national newspaper reporting. By early 2007 blogs gathered together for the purpose of the research paper increased to the current collection of 744. Around 120 of the blogs are written by people in the UK. The majority of are written by people from the USA. Lesser numbers involve bloggers from Australia, New Zealand and Canada. During the sourcing period, several blogs were deleted by their authors and would have put the current number well above the 800 mark. Many more work-related blogs are known to exist and the figure of 744 is limited only by the time taken to sort and screen the blogs. The collection has been categorised on occupational themes and indicates, to a certain extent, which occupations seem to blog about their work the most/least. Figure three gives an indication of the spread of occupations considered for the study. Examples of names given to the blogs by their keepers are also noted in figure three.

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Data collection and analysis involved two approaches. First of all, sample writings from the 744 blogs were considered for content analysis (Holsti, 1969). Web-pages are highly suitable for content analysis, but the main reason for adopting this approach is due to the nature of the research, in that, in part, it represents the study of recorded human communications (Babbie, 2001). As such, coding of blog material followed themes emerging from prior research and wide media reporting. Blogs were in turn initially categorised broadly in line with the emergent research themes.

Employment category Education (high school) Nurse Police Medic Office and manager Emergency services Education (HE) IT, technical and craft Retail Airline Hotel and restaurant Miscellaneous Taxi Librarian Call centre Scientist Law Military Transport Education TEFL) Sex worker Actor and film industry Total (FE and

Number 98 93 68 62 59 49 36 29 29 27 25 25 25 24 22 15 11 11 11 10 9 6 744

Example titles Report Card The NHS Confessional Life In The Law Abiding Midlands Musings Of A Disheartened Doctor Thoughts Of A Terminally Bored Office Worker Confessions Of A Fire Control Operator A Lecturers Life That’s Not A Bug, It’s A Feature Don’t Blame Me! I’m Just A Sales Assistant Sorry, I Don’t Have Peanuts Pizza Hut Team Member Walking The Streets (traffic warden) All In A Days Work Loopy Librarian Call Center Purgatory 75 Degrees South The Magistrate’s Blog Universal Soldier Bus Driving Daily TEFL Grind A Day In The Night Of A Stripper Diary Of A Chicago Actor

Figure three: Work-related blogs by category

Secondly, an on-line questionnaire provided the means to gather data from bloggers. The questionnaire approach was deemed appropriate for two reasons. The main reason relates to accessibility to bloggers, as many bloggers write anonymously and under pseudonyms to prevent
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wider identification and the possibility of disciplinary action by their employer. Targeting a small group of work bloggers, as was the case with Schoneboom (2006), was judged to be ill-suited to investigating a phenomenon from a broad perspective. Due to the sensitive nature of blogging, most bloggers were asked to take part in the study by leaving a message on their blog. Otherwise, researcher subjects were invited to take part in the study via email (often email addresses are publicised somewhere on the blog). However contact with bloggers was made, each blogger was asked to complete an on-line questionnaire – an approach that complements the nature of what was being researched. As little was known about work blogging in early 2005, and even recent research is noted by minimal or qualitatively different contact with work bloggers, the researcher asked a range of open-ended self-reporting questions based on, for example, reasons for the theme of the blog, motivations to start and continue blogging, and, who reads their blog. Questionnaire data gathering commenced in April 2005 and ended in October 2005. Out of 520 requests made, 207 bloggers responded (39.8 per cent return rate). Only three returned questionnaires were unfit for purpose. Due to the nature of the questionnaire – replies largely determined by the research subject; techniques associated with a grounded theory approach (Glaser and Strauss, 1968) was used to analyse the data. That is, similar themes in the data were reduced to broader and distinct categories. There are, however, many ethical dilemmas involved in researching human Internet activity. For instance, while the Internet (and ultimately the blogosphere) is viewed by many to be a technically accessible domain, and is often equated to the public sphere, the question of whether technical accessibility equals publicness is problematic (Berry, 2004). In other words, for example, bloggers may publish to a network that can be accessed worldwide, yet their activities are unlikely to be known to the vast majority of bloggers, never mind the many who apply the Internet for more mainstream use, or where people have no application for the Internet whatsoever. As such, there are strong grounds for protecting the interests of work bloggers, as high levels of intrusion could harm friendship or community-based networks. Accordingly, like with all social science research, Cyberspace research activity should continue to involve being courteous, civil, and respectful of the privacy and dignity of the research subjects (Jones, 1994). Wherever it was reasonably possible to so, the methodological approach involved attaining consent for the use of material from work-related blogs. For example, bloggers were requested to put forward example postings based on certain themes. What is more, the researcher went to every length possible to make sure that such material would be presented in the light intended by the bloggers who wrote the postings. Material from blogs and the remarks from questionnaire responses have also been

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anonymised in line with prior or post-hoc requests from bloggers, and wherever else it would be reasonably to do so.

Unmediated workplace imagery from the Internet
It would not be possible to reproduce anything but a tiny fraction of the material contained in the 744 blogs that forms the basis of the study. Wherever possible, material will be reproduced in its entirety. However, many blog entries are lengthy and have to be shortened due to the restrictions of a research paper. Moreover, neither would it be feasible to analyse the entire content of the 744 blogs. As such, the methodological approach involved coding data drawn from blogs on a range of work-related themes. For instance, along the expected themes of employee misbehaviour and whistleblowing. Further codes followed more substantiated research and media commentary on work-related blogs, such as pursuing wider influence and interests on-line, imparting tacit knowledge and coping with isolation at work. Broadly, analysis of work-related blogs supports the many impressions created of work blogging by those who support the interest of employers, and the unpublished research recently conducted on such activity (e.g. Hoel and Collins 2006; Gely and Bierman, 2006; Schoneboom, 2006). Blogging as a nuisance to employers It was self-evident in many ways to suggest that work-related blogs could be viewed as a form of organizational misbehaviour, whether misbehaviour is viewed as a form of creative resistance (Ackroyd and Thompson, 1999), or a means to inflict damage on the organization (Vardi and Weitz, 2004; Vardi and Wiener, 1996). The following material written by a traffic warden confirms the obvious:
Got pulled into the office for my ‘appraisal’ today…What amused me was the crude tools they were using to appraise my performance. I shall explain; everything we do is logged on our hand held computers. Every street we visit, every stop to use the toilet (Which is logged in the twee little transatlantic idiom of the menu system as a ‘Comfort break’), every car we start to book and end up moving on is in the hand held log. The statistics off this are downloaded to industrial strength spreadsheets and turned into whizzy flashy graphs, which mean absolutely dick. What all these graphs and flashy thingies fail to appraise is the human side of the job… ‘Ticking the damn boxes’ (Dated 13 April 2005) by Walking The Streets,

http://parkingattendant.blogspot.com/2005/04/ticking-damn-boxes.html [accessed 26 March 2007].

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Lampooning the ins and outs of human resource management practices is, of course, just one way a blogger could become a nuisance to his or her employer. The following blog extract contains reference to a new strategy introduced by the police authorities in Scotland.
Somewhere along the way it was decided that Intelligence Led Policing was the way to go. Apparently the police just reacted to what happened. So now we have offices full of Analysts and other ESSO staff both police and, cue politically correct term, Support Staff whose job it is to advise us, the shiftworkers, to patrol and what to look out for whilst we are doing that patrolling. Policing led by Intelligence apparently… ‘Intelligence led policing – Aye right’ (Dated 8 December 2006) by The Job’s Not What It Was, http://the-jobs-not-what-it-was.blogspot.com/2006/12/intelligence-led-policing-aye-right.html [accessed 26 March 2007].

Such statements are demonstrative to certain extent of what Schoneboom (2006) refers to as creative resistance, or where workers having little chance to speak out while at work, use blogs to ridicule new management practices or initiatives. Many more examples of employees acting in a manner likely to be perceived by employers could be produced from the data sample, but the two examples quite clearly indicate the nuisance-like potential of work blogging. Blogging as whistleblowing The kind of whistleblowing that can be readily associated with work blogging is ‘external’ whistleblowing and likely to involve an employee taking action outside the organization because they lack the power themselves to directly challenge organizational practices from within (Miethe, 1999). As such, blogging represents a very new form of whistleblowing, yet in many ways it represents finding news to do age-old things. Material from a British supermarket checkout operator highlights how a blog can reveal information about a company that the company would probably prefer to keep secret to outsiders:
…First off the bat is packing customers shopping for them. Checkout Al doesn’t follow the company rules on this, but then neither do 90% of the other checkout people… ‘Checkout Al’ (Dated May 9, 2006) by Life On A Roll Of Film,

http://adspackman.blogspot.com/2006/05/checkout-al.html [accessed 26 March 2007].

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Whistleblowing is of course similar in nature to being a nuisance, yet referral to sensitive organizational subjects, such as a customer relation policy, by and insider, in a fashion almost certainly not welcomed within the organization, represents a qualitative leap in action. For instance, the following blog excerpt written by a British medical doctor, demonstrates how memos meant for restricted viewing (in this case paraphrased as a means to ridicule the message and messenger) could end up as public viewing on the Internet:
Here is a circular I received today: Dear doctor Good evening, hello and welcome to your guide to MMC! Now you may have heard a lot about this radical new restructuring of junior doctor training and this letter is to make sure you are fully clued up… ‘Modernising Medical Careers: A Guide For Current Senior House Officers’ (Date 16 February 2006) by Musings Of A Disheartened Doctor, http://thelostdoctor.blogspot.com/2006/02/modernising-medicalcareers-guide-for.html [accessed 26 March 2007].

Work blogging is clearly a distinct forum for whistleblowing mainly because the message has the potential to be read by millions. It could also be the case, as has already been discussed, that media journalists have been known to compound the workings of work bloggers through newspaper articles or magazine feature stories. More realistically, most blogs command closed off audiences, and the message will probably go no further than a small range of associates or any number of Internet lurkers. Blogging as pursuing wider influence and interests on-line Over the past few years an absolute minority of work-related blogs have become so popular that they command large readerships, are regularly given positive attention by the popular media, and converted in to book format (e.g. Chalk, 2006; Copperfield, 2006; Reynolds, 2006). Indeed, it is estimated that Random Acts of Reality, written by a London Ambulance Service technician, has a readership in excess of 100,000. Common to the three blogs is working for the public sector, as a high school teacher, police officer and for the NHS. However, lesser known blogs are written in a manner that suggests there is an agenda of shaping public opinion on a range of issues, as the following blog posting suggests:
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One of the things that attracts me to advocacy is the basically non-judgemental approach. We help people to make their voices heard: their own voices and their own wishes. We don't give advice, we try not to let our own feelings or beliefs get in the way of our work, we'll even help people to say things that we think are just wrong - in the hope, perhaps, that by effectively saying them they'll be able to get into a debate with other people that might help them develop more palatable aims… ‘Being Non-judgemental’ (Dated 19 May 2006) by Advocacy Blog,

http://advocacyblog.blogspot.com/2006/05/being-non-judgemental.html [accessed 26 March 2007].

Without prompting by an employer or policy maker the work blogger in question is using the Internet to promote the value of advocacy as a means for people to speak up for themselves, rather than, for example, a social work professional, ‘acting in the interests of their client’. Similar creative attempts to shape public opinion are taken by other work bloggers, for example a call centre operator, taking the time and effort to explain why it is not always easy to meet the demands of the customer:
There are times when my call center feels like a war zone. Because there are times when our transactions may take several calls inbound and outbound to complete, we may have multiple calls from different people before a customer is satisfied. On Friday the call volume was brutal. Low on staff, problems with inbound servers and glitches in the software combined to make one of those days... ‘The Fog Of War’ (Date: June 17, 2006) by Call Center Purgatory,

http://callcenterpurgatory.blogspot.com/2006/06/fog-of-war.html [accessed 26 March 2007].

In this sense regular readers of certain types of work-related blogs may over time come to appreciate how an employee feels about a situation often only experienced from a customer perspective. Overall, it would be reasonable to suggest that a particular dimension of work blogging is about shaping wider opinions and promoting understandings of difficult work-related situations. Blogging as sharing tacit knowledge Hoel and Hollins (2006) believe blogs could act as spaces for intelligence gathering, construction and dissemination. However, the context in which Hoel and Hollins investigate their ideas involves organizations introducing work blogging as part of an internal/external communication strategy. This is not the case in this study as research subjects pursue their on-line activity
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outwith employment contractual obligations. Nevertheless, sharing knowledge of an occupationalrelated variety is a common theme amongst such blogs, especially blogs written by professions noted for continuous development programmes, like with nursing. For instance, Medioblogopathy, a blog kept by a Canadian nurse, acts as a focal point for many hundreds of nurse bloggers throughout the world. An example of the work from Medioblogopathy demonstrates a distinct direction by which work blogging can take:
…I drew her blood a few days ago. She told me I wouldn't be able to, that no one ever did a good job, and that I was going to hurt her. She had tiny veins that were deep and the other nurses decided I should do this. I did get both tubes, and it did hurt she told me. I haven't any cure for that - I've got to use a little needle to get in through the skin to where the blood hangs out. I told her I was sorry it hurt… ‘A Simple Blood Draw’ (Dated 17 June 2006) by Medioblogopathy,

http://mediblogopathy.blogspot.com/2006/06/simple-blood-draw.html [accessed 26 March, 2007].

Following the posting that contains significant more detail than above, several nurse bloggers discuss the finer details of certain medical practices by using the comment function. Three of the twenty comments included:
Ummm, since when can anyone "hold a patient down" against their will to draw blood?? To threaten that is called assault and to actually do it is battery. Unless the patient was deemed mentally incompetent, that's a violation of patient rights. I so relate to having a room full of family members watching me start an IV. I'm sometimes tempted to tell them that for each person who watches, the odds of my being successful are reduced, but I never say anything. Good grief! No pressure or anything, huh? If I ever get out of the OR, I'm sure I'll have stories like this too. :) Good job!

At no point should work blogging be seen as on-line lecturing or ‘how to’ guidance. Sharing knowledge in this sense relates more to sharing experiences of putting theory in to practice, often against the backdrop of conflicting managerial and customer demands. Indeed, scanning through the many nurse blogs revealed similar activity. Moreover, nurse blogs are typically defined by lengthy blogrolls containing Hyper-links to a range of other nurse blogs. Some of the blogrolls observed on nursing blogs also commonly include medic or paramedic blogs, and vice versa.

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Such blogging practices also appeared common across occupational groups that share similar characteristics. Blogging as a coping mechanism Finding ways to cope or survive work is by no means a new phenomenon, and for certain, predates the Internet age. Coping with work, however, tends to be synonymous with the ways that workers get through their working day: how they survive the boredom, tedium, monotony, drudgery and powerlessness that characterises many jobs (Noon and Blyton, 2007). However, Gely and Bierman (2006) refer to more contemporary times where coping at work is increasingly about a world largely absent of ‘union hall’ activity, such as community building leisure activities arranged after work. Instead, a legal case is made to protect moderate work bloggers who are believed to access the ‘virtual world’ as a means to fulfil basic human needs. In this case, coping is about using blogs to develop a sense of community among similar natured employees. To an extent this was dealt with in the previous sub-section, but coping is clearly different to an extent from sharing knowledge, as the following blog excerpt suggests:
The station has been locked up since 1:10 and even though it's been a very quiet night, I've been catching glimpses of strange things out of my office window. When I could see the outline of a shape on the stairs. I checked my CCTV cameras and I couldn't see anything there. The fact it's 4:00 and I'm alone on the station has been freaking me out. I have to go and do a pre-opening station check soon, and to tell you the truth, I'm not looking forward to it. ‘Weird night’ (Dated November 19, 2006) by London Underground Life,

http://londonundergroundlife.blogspot.com/2006/11/weird-night.html [accessed 26 March 2007].

In this example blogging is used as a means to overcome isolation while at work. Evidence of blogging about work extends to other situations. This includes time recalling stories and anecdotes on-line:
Overheard on the corridor today: "OK, go in, get into pairs and practice oral. I'll be back in a minute"

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Wish I taught French. ‘Skill for life’ (Dated March 7, 2007) by It’s Your Time You’re Wasting,

http://iytywnm.blogspot.com/2007/03/skills-for-life.html [accessed 26 March 2007).

By actively engaging in networked dialogue on-line, work blogging is unlikely to be replacing everyday human interaction. Yet, it seems likely that writing on blogs about being isolated, and sharing anecdotes with people on-line, can temporarily fill gaps in the life of certain workers. Summary By presenting and analysing what have been referred to as unmediated workplace imagery from the Internet, we have explored dimensions of work-related blogs that have until now been largely anecdotal and unsubstantiated. As expected, the material taken from work-related blogs strongly suggests work blogging is multi-dimensional. Overall, aside from a dimension that is perhaps only mildly irritating to employers, work blogging appears to be a very positive experience for those who keep blogs, especially in terms of sharing and perhaps acting on ideas, experiences and knowledge, in an unprecedented and highly creative manner. However, before conducting further analysis of the unmediated workplace imagery from the Internet, time will now be taken to investigate how bloggers view their own activities. Indeed, from the questionnaire it is likely that we will be able to dig much deeper into the mindset of work bloggers and reveal further insights in to this growing phenomenon. Later, we compare both sets of findings.

Work blogging and bloggers
The questionnaire explored several dimensions of work blogging activity, but only four are covered in this paper. The first section of the section considers the simple question – why do you blog specifically about work? Further sub-sections consider motivations for starting a work-related blog, motivations to continue blogging about work, and, who is audience for such blogs? The basis of the results is generalised categories reduced from a mass of qualitative questionnaire data. Why pick work to be the theme of an on-line diary? By far the main reason for making work a central theme appears to concern having a forum to let off steam and vent frustrations about work (see figure four), and accounts for nearly 30 per cent of all replies. For instance, as one respondent put it – ‘So I don’t gripe so much at work’
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(questionnaire reply no. 58). However, part of this category has been extended to include work blogging as a means to cope with work and stay in control of pressures that come from work. For instance, a bar worker claims to blog ‘To let off steam about dealing with the drunken public’ (questionnaire reply no. 184). The second most popular reason to blog about work (nearly 20 per cent) suggests something quite different. In this situation work appears to be a natural theme for creative writing or diary writing. Indeed, a common kind of statement on this theme includes – ‘[Work] is my life. I don’t have much else to write about’ (questionnaire reply no. 85), or, ‘’Work is a major part of my life, and because of that, many “bloggable” things happen there’ (questionnaire reply no. 106). It appears that work is a highly central feature for around one-fifth of all work bloggers. The third most popular reason to blog about includes keeping a record of what goes on at work. The category is quite broad ranging and the following quote from a work blogger – ‘[I blog because] it helps me organize the day in my thoughts and lay out humorous, stressful or unusual occurrences for future references’ (questionnaire reply no. 80) – suggests it is a way in which some workers keep track of their experiences of work. At one extreme, work bloggers claim to use their blog to make sense of working life and perhaps issues beyond the workplace, as the following quote suggests, ‘[I blog] to take the place of a good shrink’ (questionnaire reply no. 97). Some use their blogs exclusively for continuous personal development purposes, as one high school teacher suggests, ‘[I blog] as a record to review for professional development in the future’ (questionnaire reply no. 185). Further common reasons to use a blog for work-related matters include a way to keep in touch with friends, family, colleagues and similar professionals (14 per cent) – a common answer for flight attendants or airline pilots. Similar in scope, some work bloggers blog as part of some sort of commitment to an on-line community, where ideas and experiences are shared – a common response from school teachers, medics, nurses, paramedics and police officers. Also commanding 14 per cent of the responses is the use of work-related blogs to inform the public of what it is like to work in a certain type of job, or to educate the public on certain parts of the job. This is simply expressed by a nurse who blogs because she feels her ‘…job is interesting and may be to others’ (questionnaire reply no. 16), through to more mischievous intents such as to ‘share the “real story” of New York law firms with others’ (questionnaire reply no. 190). Police officers, paramedics, various military personnel and a pathologist made similar remarks.
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Little evidence emerged to suggest work bloggers viewed blogging as a forum for resistance and in reality presented little more than a minor or individual act of defiance, or as one retail employee put it – ‘It’s a way of getting my own back at the bosses and it’s better than putting it on a message board because of censorship rules’ (questionnaire reply no. 51). Other reasons include blogging as a means to make money, experiment with a new form of communication, or no particular reason at all.

Response Creative outlet/work a natural forum for ideas/story telling/fun Make sense of experience/reflect/store information for later date/develop career/muse Keep in touch with friends, family, colleagues, similar professionals – connect/network/share information Provide first hand accounts of work/educate readers/public Let off steam/vent/cope/stay in control Resistance/defiant act Other/don’t know/unspecified Total

Number or responses 40 35 29 29 57 2 12 204

Percentage 19.6 17.2 14.2 14.2 27.9 1.0 5.9 100

Figure four: Why do you blog specifically about work? Why blog in the first place? Findings that relate to motivations for starting a work-related blog are equally broad ranging and no one theme dominates (see figure five). On top again, however, is the need of work bloggers to find a strategy to deal with the stresses of work (26 per cent), however that may come about. Replies of this nature include one provided by a call centre operator who was motivated to start blogging because, ‘I was frustrated with my management and how they did not care’ (questionnaire reply no. 1). A common theme for bloggers takes the form of a way to wind down from work, as stated by someone identifying themselves as an office worker: ‘[I started blogging because of] utter frustration with my job! The blog allowed me to moan about it without the fear of retribution, and to give my friends and family a break from hearing me moan about it – instead, I blogged!’ (questionnaire reply no. 13). The second most common motivator to start a work-related blog suggests work, for many, is indeed a highly central and meaningful part of everyday life (23.5 per cent). As a pharmacist
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blogger put it, ‘it’s the easiest subject for me to write about’ (questionnaire reply no. 37). An oncologist stated similar motivations in that, ‘[Work is the] main part of my life. What else!’ (questionnaire response no. 61). The third main motivation to blog about work reveals something quite different in the data. That is to say, nearly 20 per cent of all work bloggers took up the practice because they were inspired by other bloggers. Unsurprisingly, the main impetus in this regard is two of probably the most well known work-related blogs: Random Acts of Reality and Policeman’s Blog. Further references are made of Call Center Purgatory written by a call centre worker in the USA. However, for some, it was ‘reading others and thinking I could do better’ (questionnaire reply no. 14), ‘a friend suggested it’ (questionnaire reply no. 193), or even trying to moderate certain blogging communities because, ‘…that wasn’t how I saw things’ (questionnaire reply no. 160). Taken together suggests some sort of blogging dynamic based on, perhaps, competition between bloggers, and increasing word-of-mouth and media attention enticing people to investigate the blogosphere. Less common motivations include directly wanting to join in with an established group of bloggers (13 per cent) and wanting to use work-related blogs as a means to reveal details of their jobs with an educational element (11 per cent). Even fewer were motivated to start blogging on the basis of keeping an on-line record of what they had achieved at work (3 per cent). Only two per cent moved in to work blogging after blogging about different themes. Other motivations included making money and some bloggers were unsure of their motivation. No work blogger indicated that they started a blog as a forum for resistance.
Response Inspiration from other blogger Frustration with work/strategy to release tension Join in with established occupational group/share ideas Professional development/log events Provide first hand accounts of work for public/educate public Second blog Work a natural outlet/keep a traditional diary Other Total 3 48 5 204 1.5 23.5 2.5 100 Number of responses 39 53 27 6 23 Percentage 19.1 26.0 13.2 2.9 11.3

Figure five: What motivated you to start blogging?
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Keeping it going During the six month period in which the questionnaire ran it is interesting to note that around six per cent of all the work bloggers who took part in this study had stopped blogging (see figure six). It is likely, however, that many of those who did not respond to the request to take part in the study may have also stopped blogging about their work. Indeed, an observation made by the researcher during those times and since has noted a steady amount of work-related blogs being deleted from the Internet by their keepers. Therefore, for a sizeable minority, work blogging is a temporary practice, yet only time will tell if work-related blogs will continue to grow quicker than the pace at which they are discontinued. In terms of the data on the ongoing motivations to blog about work, nearly 50 per cent expressed the same reasons that got them started as the main reason that keeps them motivated to write about work on-line (see figure five). However, the most significant information to come from asking why work bloggers continue to blog relates to a new found popularity or the benefits of being part of a group of bloggers noted by similar occupational traits and interests. Indeed, nearly one-third of all work bloggers stated this as a main motivation to continue blogging about their work. For instance, a lawyer who regularly describes his daily experiences of the British court systems is clearly motivated by the ‘fact that over 2,500 people a week read it’ (questionnaire reply no. 6). Similarly, another lawyer seemed elated to inform that ‘I've had over 400,000 hits from all over the world’ (questionnaire no. 190). More modest replies indicate significant value in being part of a group of workers who network via work blogging. For instance, a high school teacher states, ‘I like the almost-daily writing, I have an audience, I feel like part of a community of educators’ (questionnaire reply no. 66). Some have just been enticed by the ‘camaraderie’ (questionnaire reply no. 92) of work blogging. Further answers seem to indicate far less significant motivators. However, it is unlikely to be insignificant to those who seem to have become addicted in a way to work blogging (seven per cent). For instance, a flight attendant claimed that, ‘I would blog even if no one read it…’ (questionnaire reply no. 187). An office worker stated similar motivations in that, ‘I am now “addicted” to blogging’. Further changing motivations include changing the direction of their blog, but keeping the theme of work (13 per cent). In the main the replies suggest a cooling off in terms of what compelled them to blog in the first place and perhaps how reading other blogs has made them think differently about what they are actually trying to achieve. It may also be the case that work bloggers fear for their jobs if caught discussing work in such a manner. For instance, an

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academic found herself over time being ‘…more careful about what I say about work’ (questionnaire reply no. 163).
Response Same reason to start blogging New found popularity/part of community Diversified to different aspects of work Become an addictive habit Stopped altogether/stopped blogging about work/stopped temporarily Other Total 1 204 0.5 100 Number of responses 96 67 13 15 12 Percentage 47.1 32.8 6.4 7.4 5.9

Figure six: What motivates you to continue blogging about your work? Who reads work-related blogs? It has been established so far that there are a number of well-known and well-visited work-related blogs (included in the study). However, what about the rest of them? What is the general picture even if we do not have the precise statistics of how often each blog is visited by a reader or another blogger? The findings suggest first and foremost that for just under half of the cases (see figure seven) the readership is mainly made up of people of similar occupational backgrounds. It is not known, as of yet, whether people of ‘similar backgrounds’ means that all readers actually keep their own blog. Having said that, blogs that command readerships of several thousand regular readers are likely to draw heavily from the occupational group of the work blogger, yet there is no reason to believe that the readership is exclusively from that particular background, as observations and the figures simply do not add up. Most bloggers, after all, only have limited technical resources to track readership. For instance, as one call centre operator puts it, ‘I have a lot of other call centre bloggers, but many others are form varied backgrounds and have nothing to do with my line of work’ (questionnaire reply no. 1). The more general answer, as put forward by a high school teacher, is that it is ‘mainly other teachers and people who want to be [read my blog] (questionnaire no. 51). The second most common audience for work-related blogs involves no one specific (20 per cent). Reponses to this question tended to be very short and unambiguous, such as, ‘anyone and everyone’ (questionnaire no. 52). Reponses for the fourth most popular answer (11 per cent) were equally precise. For instance, from ‘no idea’ (questionnaire no. 168) through to ‘not quite sure yet, no established audience’ (questionnaire no. 192). Taking both together, it suggests
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around 30 per cent of work-related blogs command little readership and unlikely to be connected to a network of bloggers, or friends, relatives and colleagues, at the time of the research. In third place the data suggests that the typical reader of work-related blogs involve family, friends and work colleagues. Suggesting, again, that the audience may be quite small for such blogs. In another way, it also suggests that blogs written for people known to the blogger may prohibit any sizeable growth in their readership. Statements to back up the case that nearly 13 per cent of work-related blogs are only for certain eyes include, ‘It’s for friends at work’ (questionnaire no. 5), ‘family and friends mostly’ (questionnaire no. 71), and, ‘Grandma, friends, parents – mostly people I know’ (questionnaire no. 146). However, there is evidence that blogs designed for a highly restricted in-crowd can quickly take on a different dynamic, as a scientist who makes regular visits to Antarctica explains, ‘originally it was just for friends and family but these days I’ve found that quite a lot of people who don’t know me are interested in what I’m getting up to’ (questionnaire no. 60). Only last by a small margin is the suggestion that around ten per cent of work-related blogs tend to be read by a variety of occupational backgrounds. As one police officer notes, ‘[My main audience is] adults with an interest in how police officers think’ (questionnaire no. 160). The adult theme continues in the words of a hospice nurse whose main readership includes, ‘the general public, people who have experienced a death, people who work with people who are dying’ (questionnaire no. 30). In general, it suggests that work-related blog audiences vary considerably from many thousands to just a handful. However, it is uncertain whether starting to blog for a wider audience results in above average levels of readership. Likewise, blogging to a small inclusive group is no guarantee it will remain that way. What is important to remember is that blogs are connected to the World Wide Web and reported on by the media who also serve to boost and broaden readerships.
Response People with similar jobs No one specific Not sure/no known regular audience Family/friends/work colleagues Variety of occupational backgrounds Total Number of responses 93 41 23 26 21 204 Percentage 45.6 20.1 11.3 12.7 10.3 100

Figure seven: Who are the readers of your blog?
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Summary In this part of the results the opinions of the work bloggers have been investigated. The four directions taken have revealed a great deal about the bloggers themselves, especially in terms of how they view and experience work and how they have experimented with new Web-based communication technology as a means to end, and later, more and more, as an end itself. The findings from both parts of the results are now compared and contrasted with the research already conducted on work-related blogs.

Discussion and conclusions
In methodological terms, the study should be noted most of all for attempting to balance the conflict inherent in work blogging itself – that is, many work bloggers fear for their jobs due to the way in which such Internet application has been widely portrayed and how employers tend to deal with employee mischief or defiance – with the first major attempt to investigate this emerging phenomenon. The approach taken broadly confirms how third-parties tend to view work blogging. The approach also clearly added to our understandings of work blogging by letting the bloggers say how they see their activities. There are differences between the two sets of findings and the significance of the difference will be considered shortly. However, there are weaknesses with the research approach that should be noted now and perhaps addressed in some way by means of future study. First of all, the questionnaire data was collected between 18 months and two years ago, and in blogging terms, represents almost a life time ago. As such, work blogging, as viewed and applied by workers, may have developed somewhat in the time that has passed since October 2005. New technologies developed during this time may have also opened up new opportunities for bloggers. Secondly, while the questionnaire allowed work bloggers to frame their replies in a relatively unrestricted manner, further study of work bloggers, and ultimately deeper insights in to any Cyberspace located sub-culture, is likely require much more far-reaching methods, such as semi or unstructured interviewing. However, like with further discussion of the findings, specific recommendations for further research in to work blogging is returned to later in the paper. In terms of exploring work-related blogs as unmediated workplace images from the Internet, the findings evidently confirmed the many different views of work blogging. Views, that is, that are based on diverging interests groups or third parties, rather than how work blogging is viewed and real to work bloggers. For instance, if you approach work blogging from a critical labour studies perspective (e.g. Ackroyd and Thompson, 1999) there are sufficient grounds to see it as a new
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and emerging Internet-related forum for individual and collectivised employee resistance and misbehaviour. As such, elements of work blogging clearly concerns employees adjusting to the changing demands of employers (Watson, 2003) and coping with some of the changes by blogging about their experiences. There are also signs that work blogging could be viewed as an alternative modality of resistance (Fleming and Sewell, 2002), and adds weight to the argument put forward by Hodson (1995) that worker resistance remains an ever developing concept in the sociology of work. Similarly, there are equal grounds to view some dimensions of work blogging as actions that defy or violate organizational norms and expectations, as well as broader core societal values, mores and proper conduct (e.g. Vardi and Wiener, 1996; Vardi and Weitz, 2004). For managerial scholars there is also evidence to suggest work blogging, whether encouraged by employers or not, could represent an effective knowledge building and communication tool (Hoel and Hollins, 2006). In brief, one contribution of the current study is to demonstrate to a wide variety of interest groups that work blogging should be taken far more seriously than it is at present. The urgency increases several fold if it is acknowledged that work blogging is likely to grow as teenagers and young workers become the next generation of nurses, police officers, call centre operators and school teachers. What is more, a further urgency is to consider that workers of today and workers of tomorrow have a range of other Web-based communication technologies available to them that are not even covered in the current research. At another level of investigation the findings from the questionnaire enlightened us on four particular fronts. That is to say, the findings give a good indication of why certain bloggers (or, in reality, a vast range of workers) make their main vocation in life a major theme of their blogging activities. The findings also provide insights in to what motivates a range of workers to blog about work and whether the motivations remain the same once the habit has become more established. Insights in to who bloggers connect with in their musings also became more apparent. However, in exploring what is essentially a self-reporting exercise, a number of contradictions emerge between how observers and third parties view work blogging and what work bloggers perceive themselves to be doing or seeking to achieve. It is no concern to the current research who is right or wrong on the matter of interpretation, yet it is clearly a striking feature of the two sets of data. One noticeable difference is that a dimension of work-related blogs is employee resistance, even if the resistance in most instances is a kind of resistance by distance (Collinson, 1994), or a buffer against corporate attempts to secure the hearts and minds of employees (Schoneboom, 2006). Yet, from the work bloggers perspective, only a tiny minority believed their blog to be a forum for resistance. The same could probably be said in the case of whistleblowing. Again, no work
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blogger mentioned whistleblowing, but whistleblowing is unmistakably evident in all of the blogging excerpts drawn upon in the paper. Indeed, if work blogging is anything, it is about unmediated images of the workplace and unmediated viewpoints of work available to anyone with a personal computer and unregulated Internet access. A further contradiction emerges in that only 14 per cent of work bloggers blog see their activities as a means to educate or influence others. In contrast, evidence from the blogs themselves suggests this form of Internet application is broadly about influencing people of similar occupation, members of the wider public, and in the words of one frank work blogger, ‘…anyone else who knows me’. Finally, while no blogger claimed to blog as a means to overcome isolation at work (Gely and Bierman, 2006), evidence for seeking some form of connectivity with similar minds was deeply implicit in both sets of data. In short, it is evident that many work bloggers seem unaware of the liberating and influencing capabilities that could be wielded from a well crafted or otherwise conducted account of working life. Therefore, the findings that emerge from the investigation of work-related blogs should in no way be simply dismissed as Cyberspace mischief. In other words, it appears that the clever minds of a few disgruntled information computer programmers of the early 1990s have unknowingly unleashed a powerful technology, which is typically free to use, requires no more technical skill than of word processing a letter and sending an email, and available to anyone who has the will to apply it. Widespread application of such technology in a work-related sense is, of course, presently underdeveloped. However, based on the research findings, work blogging represents an alternative path to emancipation and identity formation for people who are increasingly isolated and atomised in our increasingly global society. As such, the challenge ahead for a researcher of work blogging is to explore the emancipatory and identity formation potential of work blogging on a case-by-case basis.

End note: I would like to thank all of the work bloggers who took part in the research project. All blogs referenced in the paper can be accessed from a blog that I designed to run alongside the research project – see http://workblogging.blogspot.com

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