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Blogs Gain Popularity For Professional, As Well As Personal, Use

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RALEIGH, N.C. — In 2005, employees in the United States will spend 551,000 years reading blogs, according to an Advertising Age study released in October.

The study suggests one in four workers will spend about 3.5 hours a week reading these Internet diaries. One local newspaper reporter even lost her job for blogging on the job instead of doing her work.

So, why would some employers actually encourage blogging? It is simple: it comes down to using it professionally versus personally. North Carolina State University Economics Professor Craig Newmark started blogging more than three years ago. He puts tidbits related to economics on his site (


) -- it is all information he used to hang from his office door.

"I blog about economics, education and things that interest me," said Newmark, whose blog has attracted about 300 readers a day. Advertisers even pay to advertise on his site.

Generally speaking, blogs are tough to define, but they are outlets on the Internet for anyone to see.

"Some people use it as a diary, I guess," Newmark said. "It's like personal journalism, but you don't need a printing press; you don't have to lay out type or anything."

Newmark sees most of his readers log on between the typical work hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., but he's not ready to believe more time is wasted at work because of blogs.

"I think it substitutes for things like personal phone calls," he said.

Instead of gathering around the water cooler, Newmark bets some people just check out blogs at work, instead.

The newness of blogging means many employers do not have rules against it. The North Carolina Office of State Personnel says it would have to fall under a company's Internet and work policies.

"One of the things every supervisor has to do is to make sure the employees have enough work to do, so employees can't be doing a lot of extracurricular stuff on the Internet," said Margaret Jordan, of the Office of State Personnel.

Still, some companies are addressing blogs, and even encouraging it.

IBM set up blogging guidelines for employees earlier this year -- it is encouraged, both professionally and personally, even at work.

Blogger Sam Ruby says the rules require common sense: no bashing the company and no inappropriate or inflammatory remarks.

It is Ruby's job to keep up on technology. He writes a blog and reads others to find out what is out there. His site is inevitably a marketing tool that benefits IBM, too. "Certainly, a lot more people are aware of who I am and what I do because of that," Ruby said.

Even though personal experiences inevitably make it onto his blog, it remains mostly professional.


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