Tom Petrocelli's take on technology. Tom is the author of the book "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management" and a natural technology curmudgeon. This blog represents only my own views and not those of my employer, Enterprise Strategy Group. Frankly, mine are more amusing.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Let’s Get Something Clear About Transparency

I have noticed a lot of bloggers coming clean about how their blogs are influenced by who they work for. One of my favorite bloggers, Marc Farley (aka 3PARFarley) recently published his statement. To say I was not in the least surprised to find that 3PARFarley worked for 3PAR is a bit of an understatement. His tongue and cheek blog can be found at

Never to let an opportunity go by to get some traction from the work of others, I wish to add my own transparency statement. Here it goes:

Unlike so many other bloggers, I can honestly say that my blog is not influenced by any company. That’s because I am not part of any company. It’s not what I would choose but it gives me the opportunity to say “No one tells me what to do (other than my wife)!” For the right money I’m willing to change all that. Not the part about the wife. I would never change that. Love ya honey.

I write what I write because I think it’s right. Or maybe because I’m a blowhard who likes to hear himself talk. Perhaps it’s so that I don’t have to find meaningful employment and can call myself a blogger instead. It could be a mental illness such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Who knows. Or it could be that the aliens tell me to write. Good thing they don’t tell me what to write because then this would be one big horrible lie. I couldn’t live with that.

I don’t like to admit this but this has not always been the case. Not the part about aliens silly. They’ve always been there. No, the company part. I have blogged for companies that I worked for and it surely influenced my personal blog. Not in the form of shilling for the company (that’s what corporate blogs are for) but in staying away from certain topics or companies so as not to offend someone who contributed to my livelihood. The unfortunate accident of my current situation frees me from that worry. I am now truly free to annoy anyone I choose… unless I’m interviewing with them. Then I have to wait until they stop calling back to use them as a piñata. Just kidding about the piñata part. No really. No worries. But next time get a non-disclosure…

My problem with transparency statements (mine and Marc’s excluded of course) is that they assume that we are all too stupid to figure out that most blogs are sponsored, paid for, or otherwise influenced by a corporation. Come on folks! What ISN’T manipulated by a company these days? Please don’t act like anyone is hiding something. Gosh, what was the giveaway? The corporate logo on the top of the page? How about the bio that starts with “I work for (insert company name here)”? I’m not cynical, just realistic. Even most of the so-called private blogs say things like “These views do not reflect the views of my company.” The heck they don’t. Let’s have someone lambast the CEO and see if the disclaimer saves his job. Of course it won’t so you stay away from certain topics. That’s influence. See the advertising on the blog? Do you think that comes without strings? Sorry but no. The first time you lose an advertiser because of what you write you learn quickly not to write that again. It might not even be conscience but it’s there all the same.

To the folks who cry about transparency and journalistic integrity I have this to say: This is not journalism. It’s commerce. Most blogs that don’t come out of a new agency are a form of advertising. I would make a Fox News joke now but I hear they have mean lawyers. Just kidding. I love you legal guys.

Most people get that. It doesn’t mean there isn’t value in what the blogger writes but it is, at least partly, marketing. If you can’t tell if someone is selling you something then assume they are. Even me. I’m not but it’s better that you assume I am if you aren’t sure. Trust me on that.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this pledge:

I’m not selling you anything but truth. I’ll NEVER sell you anything but truth. Remember that when I go to work for a big company. I’ll never change. Not even then. I’m just like that. You can take that to the bank.

At least for now.

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