ne of the projects I’ve been running at work is building a collection of earthquake-related blog posts from various Christchurch bloggers, to help show the way that the earthquakes impacted on everyone’s lives in some way. All part of the archive’s aim of telling the story of the human side of the earthquakes through as many media as possible. So any time I meet a new blogger at the Christchurch Bloggers meetups, I tend to pounce on them to tell them about the archive and try and convince them to let me add their blog (I try and restrain myself though – I don’t want to come across like I’m only there to network. Honestly, I really do mainly go to the meetups because I enjoy the company, it’s not just because it’s useful for work!).
I’ve been feeling a bit hypocritical though, because here I am asking all and sundry to contribute their blogs to the archive, but I haven’t done so myself yet. That’s partly because I think other bloggers have had much more interesting stories to tell about the earthquakes (although, as I keep telling other people, that’s part of what we want to capture with the archive – the way some people in Christchurch were (and continue to be) hugely affected, and others hardly at all, and the way that even those of us superficially unaffected have had our lives changed in all sorts of little ways), but mostly because it would be a very public thing to do.
For a start, I’d have to associate my real name with my blog, something I’ve avoided until now (although it wouldn’t be very difficult for a determined stalker to figure out who I am from clues scattered through the blog). Strictly I wouldn’t have to, I could just archive the blog under the name FutureCat and keep my anonymity (we archived Gallivanta’s blog under her screenname, so there’s precedent for it), but the more I learn about archiving and the long-term value to historians of this stuff, the more I realise how much value associating a real name with the material has, so really I’d feel morally obliged to use my real name.
That’s ok, because, as I said, it’s not that hard to figure out my name anyway, and it’s not like the archive is getting millions of hits or anything. But what does concern me is that my name is also closely associated with the CEISMIC programme, so it means anything I write here would be associated with the programme (not that we’d archive every single post – the random crafty stuff and photos of the cat have no relevance to the earthquakes – but there’d be a link back from the archive to the Dear Diary site, so anyone reading an earthquake-related post in the archive could then come back and read the rest of the posts here). And I’d hate for something I’d written here to reflect badly on CEISMIC or on the university.
Of course, I am reasonably circumspect about what I write anyway (I’ve always followed the philosophy of don’t write anything on the internet you would be embarrassed for your mother or your boss to read), but that hasn’t stopped me from being critical of my employer during times of restructuring and other institutional idiocies, or of giving my full and frank opinion of the city council, or of the government (both of whom we need the support of if we want the programme to succeed). Having that sort of critical material in the archive isn’t a problem in itself (in fact, it’s part of our responsibility under the university’s “critic and conscience of society” role to make sure that all opinions are reflected, no matter how critical of those in power), but it’s a bit different when it’s actually someone from within the programme team writing it.
I could probably solve the problem simply enough by adding one of those “All opinions expressed are purely my own and do not reflect the views of my employer” type disclaimers, but it still makes me a bit nervous. And I’m also worried that knowing that my real name is attached to my blog will change how I write – I don’t want to lose the freedom to write what I want, and to be constantly having to think about how a rambling post about the antics of the cat or my latest baking disaster will affect my professional image.
So yeah, bit of a dilemma.
Why don’t you begin a brand new blog and transfer the earthquake related posts to that one, and it not be connected, or not very easily connected to your Diary blog.
Unfortunately, that would be problematic from an archiving point of view, because it would remove the context from the posts.
I’ll probably just bite the bullet and archive them under my real name, and keep my fingers crossed that any problematic posts are so few and far between that they’ll get lost in the noise anyway…