This is a picture I took from the back of a taxi last week while I was in New York. Actually, I was heading out of New York, on my way to the airport to head home. At the outset, you may be wondering why I’ve posted a mundane picture from the back of a cab. But look at the picture closely and let me know what you see.There seems to be a heck of a lot of articles and conversation recently regarding blogging, specifically people who are being fired from their jobs for blogging. Delta Airlines, Google and Microsoft have all garnered press recently for dismissing employees who wrote something either derogatory or questionable on thier personal blogs about their employers.

Yesterday on, an article was posted on the legalities and guidance around blogging about your employer or while on the clock. The SearchViews weblog posted an interesting diatribe regarding the perceived chasm between accredited journalists and rogue bloggers. The quote I found most interesting:

“While the courts wrangle with the First Amendment issues of blogging (which could go on for years), we’d like to see the search engines take some responsibility. Not for the content itself, but for the classification of that content. If Yahoo can separate News listings from their standard web listings, the clarification of first-hand certified reports vs. secondary op-ed and summary presentations should be possible….And as for how that classification would be plied, it seems fairly obvious that the sacred tradition of journalism might lend itself to a Verisign e-commerce-style certification system. And here’s the most important part, so the search engines don’t accept any undue responsibility (or further shape our perception): The engines should develop filters that leave the reader to evaluate the merits of which content they’ll consume.”

A Verisign e-commerce style certification system? Search engines actually calling out first-hand vs second-hand reporting? I’m just not sure creating a class system for bloggers or pitting them against the press or each other via search engine result pages is the answer. Truth be told, I don’t know what the answer is and maybe I’m just reading this wrong. Am I?

Eventually, I suspect we’ll get to the point where certain bloggers will simply become trusted sources and others won’t be as reliable or respected, much like we see today with the New York Times and same-city combatants like the New York Post. Each of those traditional outlets has its supporters and detractors – should they be called out seperately or be subjected to a certification system because of it? In the blogosphere, the toes are already in the water – certain sites are starting to emerge as trusted sources. I just don’t think we need a Verisign system or regulation for it at this point. I’m not saying the Post is a “second-hand news” publication by any stretch, either. In terms of classification, though, there’s an indisputable difference and the readers already do evaluate the merits on their own.

As for blogging about your employer, well, that’s just plain stupid. One should know better than to spout off about the hand that feeds you. One should be intelligent enough to, at the very least, drop an inquiry into your employer about what the consequences would be if you disclosed information or spoke in a negative manner about the company you work for. That’s just common sense and I have little sympathy for people who don’t possess the capacity to realize it.

Personally, my own blog is an escape from my work. I largely do this to maintain a creative outlet for myself and to keep my brain healthy and active on all things NOT work-related. While I may mention Ask Jeeves here and there, it’s certainly not my aim to focus this space on the search business. For one, I ingest plenty of it 8-9 hours a day, and for another thing, there’s more than enough solid sources out there if you want information on that stuff.