Ethics Center sponsors 'Consequences of Blogging'

Today's students are known as the Facebook Generation. Or the YouTube generation.

It may be hard for current students to believe, given the ubiquity of social networking, but this is a relatively new phenomenon. (Facebook launched in 2004 and YouTube in 2005.)

And it is also hard for many to remember that the ease these media create for communicating opinions can have consequences that young bloggers may not consider.

In a panel called "The Consequences of Blogging," sponsored by the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life, a group of faculty, staff, and student respondents will discuss their personal experiences with blogging and its various effects on privacy, freedom of speech, education and student life. It will be held on April 4 at 6:30 p.m. in Heller G3.

Faculty and staff respondents include Rick Alterman of Internet Studies, Jackie Kopyt of Hiatt Career Center, Johann Larusson of Library and Technology Services, and David Wedaman of Library and Technology Services. Student respondents include Jamie Fleishman '11, Mark Grinberg '11, Anna Khandros '11, and Sahar Massachi '11.

Fleishman's experience with blogs extends beyond the personal; he has previously worked with the Brandeis Office of Admissions on their blog. The consequences of blogging, Fleishman explains, are due to its immediacy and wide reach.

"A blog represents direct contact with the outside world. There's no barrier, no middleman," says Fleishman.

Khandros tells of her anxiety about keeping a blog while she was studying abroad in Lebanon in the spring of 2010. She considers self-censorship of great importance because of potentially harmful repercussions even from posts that are supposed to be private.

Interested in keeping control of your new blog? Here are a few suggestions:

First, Khandros and Fleishman advise reading everything twice. Before you decide to submit a text post, have a friend read it through, or wait a few hours and return to it to ensure quality.

Second, if you're writing about a topic that you feel passionate about it may be useful to delay a post rather than blogging immediately. That way, you avoid writing overly polemic posts, which could alienate you from future opportunities.

Lastly, think carefully about how and with whom you share it. If it is a particularly sensitive topic, consider emailing links to the post rather than sharing it on a Facebook feed. Limiting the readership of a blog may ensure that if anything does happen, the splash is small.

Despite the risks, blogging offers numerous benefits. When you blog, Khandros says, "you're presenting yourself. You're in control of what you say."

While the Internet provides a variety of venues for writers to offer their perspectives on just about anything, consider the consequences before you publish, he says, because once "you hit the submit button, there's no turning back."

Categories: Science and Technology, Student Life

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