Monday, November 12, 2012

A blogging conundrum

I got an email recently from an intern who used to work at Design Associates; he found me by finding this blog. He assured me that he wouldn't tell anyone that it was me, and knowing him as I did when he worked at DA, I do believe him...but he never answered me when I asked him how he figured out it was me.  I've always felt like I changed enough details about projects that someone from the outside (e.g., a client) wouldn't be able to know who or what project I was talking about, and I've generally figured that someone would have to try really hard to find the blog in the first place. Apparently, I thought wrong.

I suppose I have more to fear by talking smack about my coworkers than by talking about my projects and clients.  Even then, though, I've realized that I'd be willing to defend what I say about my coworkers (and bosses) if any of them ever confronted me about it.  But I also recognize that a lot of what I wrote in 2006-2008 was pretty angry, and frankly, it wasn't the best writing anyway.  I realize that everything lives on the internet forever, cached somewhere random and remote, even if I deleted or archived my earlier posts, but it seems as if those posts should be taken down in some way, if nothing else but for my own peace of mind.

But shitty writing and general crankiness aside, I still feel compelled to write about architecture as a profession and a practice from my practical non-starchitect working-for-the-man-every-night-and-day standpoint.  How am I supposed to do that by using generic examples? Sure, I can highlight magazine and website articles and talk about various general current-architectural-event topics, but at some point I'm just doing what every other social web commentator does. for me, the point of starting this blog was to explain how we architects do what we do every day, the pleasures and the pitfalls; the happy and the sad;  the well-budgeted and the underfunded, the good, the bad, and the EIFS.

So, I ask of thee, my tens of readers and the blogging community: what say you? What are your thoughts on my conundrum?

Edited to add: A blogging colleague commented that my work here would likely not be considered libel for two reasons: 1) I make no monetary gain from the site, and 2) I've changed names and identifying details.  Further, I imagine you'd have to know me personally to be able to figure it out as opposed to being a complete stranger--that's the only way you'd have enough details to piece together. That being said, I still started looking through my old posts from the beginning of the blog and deleting a few...but not many.  Mostly what I ended up deleting so far are posts about clients that made me crazy, but overall (again, so far anyway) I stand by anything I've said about coworkers or bosses.  To be fair, I haven't gone through the entire blog archive (and I haven't gotten to posts made during the recession, some of which were pretty bitter).  Ultimately, blogs in particular and life in general are about being accountable to others for our words and actions, and if I'm called upon to be accountable for anything I've said here, then I'll have to face that music.


Lilylou said...

Good morning, Pixie. Even though I'm not blogging often any more (partly because I don't have a congregation to stimulate my thinking about ministry), I do a lot of blog reading and yours is one I always read. I've learned a lot about architecture that way! Thanks!

One thing I was always conscious of was that some of my parishioners read my blog and that I ran a huge risk if I wrote about sensitive things.

But ministry is a sensitive topic! And confidentiality is a big part of it.

My approach has been to write about issues and how they affect me, without involving any personalities other than my own. If an issue came up that I needed to blog about to let off steam, I tried to frame the issue in a general way without describing the people who were part of the problem, with an emphasis on what I was learning because of the problem.

I revealed my own failings, rather than others' idiosyncrasies. That too is a big risk! But at least I wasn't revealing identities of anyone but myself.

Anonymous said...

I have always wondered if someone you know came across this blog, how easy they'd know it was you. You are a fitness buff, have cats, live in a condo, and put some pictures of yourself (neck down) in a couple posts - enough to narrow it down where I work at least.

That said, I think what you say is very interesting and I don't think you have to worry too much, but I'd act as if people know you are the one writing it, and see how that changes things. It might filter you a little, but I'm hoping it doesn't change my reading experience.

A female chemist in a small corporate town.

Anonymous said...

At the risk of sounding old, which I am not, this an excellent example of the diminishing privacy Boomers loath. The world is small & shrinking. Denver is tiny - the littlest big town or biggest little town, by your perspective. The profession's regional musical chairs, perhaps square dance in the West, will bring that circle round and round until you know more people than you don't. This may be why some Denver area talent is seen as reclusive or a-social in their approach to architectural process and business practice. Some of these individuals simply do not weigh in on the practice of architecture, even when cornered by aspiring interns. Perhaps they have been burned or they are at least deeply fearful. What would happen if you instead assumed many that you know are readers, above you, equal, and below you at DA and in Denver?

What I mean to say in less words is that you are very probably known and observed more than you have believed. Other curious and inspired interns have and will find you. Many have, will, and do know you but I suspect choose not to say so for fear of derailing a wonderful outlet for you and others. I'm positive that you're also inspiring to the interns who know you-in-the-flesh as you corral them at DA.

I can't guess why this intern thought it prudent to break the code. Doubtfully a power play. Perhaps he is the type who can't pass a celebrity without letting them know he knows who they are as a way of encouragement - a "thanks for doing what you do because I enjoy it and now I can tell my friends you're a real person." I've felt that impulse before, but generally choose against it, I think because I want very badly not to be impulsive and to think before I act. Remember that even in comics, someone always knows the real identity of Batman, Superman, Spider man,... because someone needs to be there in moments of self-doubt. Yes, I equated you with a super-hero. With great power comes great responsibility.

This comment has turned toward personal for me because I want to share with you how much I enjoy that your work is personal and relate-able. There is no doubt you care about your workplace and the people there. If there were ever to be any workplace concerns about the ethics of your candor, you should know that there are folks who 'have your back' to share with DA the value in you as an employee that they must will have overlooked.

And finally, like the leaving the bad boyfriend your friends always wanted to tell you was a bad boyfriend but for some reason abstained, if a day arrives that you and DA part ways over spilt milk from the blog-i-verse, you'll be better off for it.

Amen. Hallelujah. Holy Shit. Pass the Tylenol.

intern architect for [the] humanity

Andrea said...

I would think you had plausible deniability.

Miz Scarlett said...

I didn't delete stuff, but I did lock them. Most of my past posts of a personal nature are now private and not publically available. I thought it was important to keep the record of who and what i was at the time for future reference.

Because some day, I might write a memoir on a famous Military general, and goodness knows I don't want some of my posts read on national news.

Mile High Pixie said...

Good comments, all. There's something particularly interesting about the philosophy of thiinking that I'm being unknowlingly read by people who know me and that I know. It's sort of how I've been writing this year (mostly). It's still worth going through to "save as draft" everything that I thought was questionable.

And to the second Anonymous: your comment nearly made me cry. Thank you. :-)

Mile High Pixie said...

I just had an Anonymous commenter explain how s/he found me--thanks for the input. I elected not to post the comment, as it might tip more people off to my identity. However, I wasn't offended by your honesty, and your explanation made a great deal of sense. Welcome to WAD, and I hope you'll continue to read and make comments here! :-)

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed "Why Architects Drink" for many years. It was a "spot on" view of the architectural world. Frankly, I was very surprised that you had written it this long without it being found out and I do think that persons in your firm might have been offended. However, I suspect that more people know about the blog than you think. It is a convenient spectator sport to sit back and see how far you will go with it. That's just human nature. I halfway expected you to signoff after making associate. I don't know about Denver, but you should think about this: it is possible if you know the architectural community well for someone could do enough sleuthing to find out which firm is depicted here. For myself, I did not want to know. It is likely however that you haven't been found out yet by someone with an axe to grind. So write for as long as you can. As an architect (on the other side of the US), I always enjoyed your take on things and respected your opinions. I did not pass the blog info to other architects because I enjoyed seeing what another female architect was going through. Your blog was my own enjoyment and therapy. That being said I would recommend taking past posts out in some way even though it is technically not effective in an attempt in erasing your internet presence. At least you can guard the feelings of others and say that you tried to make amends. It has been immensely useful to myself (located in a more rural and less cosmopolitan part of the country) to have the "curtain pulled back" from the profession. It felt like an opportunity to commiserate on similar topics. It has made some of us (women architects, that is) feel far less isolated in this profession.