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Question of the Month

From the Catherwood Library reference librarians

March-April 2006

PLEASE NOTE: The Reference Question of the Month is kept current only during the month for which it was written. Archived questions will not be updated, and over time may contain inaccurate information or broken web links. We provide archived questions as a service, since much of the information will remain accurate and of continued interest to the ILR community.

Question: Are there any blogs about what's going on in the labor movement?  And, while we're at it, what exactly is a blog?

Answer: Let's take the second question first. The term "blog" is short for "weblog", an online journal in which a person expresses thoughts and opinions about anything and everything, from movies to knitting to the state of the world. True "blogs", according to Meg Hourihan, who co-invented Blogspot, one of the first blogging tools, are also characterized by their social function; they allow friends (and the world) to comment on blog entries and they link to other web sites. (You can find Meg's column on "What We Do When We Blog" at http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/javascript/2002/06/13/megnut.html.)

Commonly used blogging tools include Blogger, LiveJournal, and Moveable Type. These tools utilize RSS, a digital format than enables blog content to be syndicated (read as a news feed). People who like to track their favorite blog content use an aggregator such as Bloglines (http://www.bloglines.com). Yes, sounds complicated, but it is easier in practice.

A new entry in the "blogosphere" is the organizational or corporate blog, which is often less interactive. And, search engines are being developed to identify blogs by keyword and author. Blogging has become a part of mainstream Internet activity. Students should remember that blogs usually represent opinion rather than fact. They can be useful in pointing you toward the latest trends or articles on a topic, but they are not considered a scholarly resource that can be cited in a paper.

The labor movement has so far, not produced a great number of blogs, but that may be changing. Here are some sample weblogs, followed by the addresses of blog search engines that you can use to search for others.

Confined Space: News and Commentary on Workplace Health & Safety, Labor and Politics
http://spewingforth.blogspot.com/
Jordan Barab comments knowledgably about the politics of workplace safety and health. This was one of the first labor blogs to be created (2003) and is still going strong.

Labor Blog
http://www.nathannewman.org/laborblog/
Another early labor entry in the labor blogworld; this one is by Nathan Newman, labor activist and writer.

Global Labor Strategies
http://laborstrategies.blogs.com/global_labor_strategies/
This new blog is more of a series of essays on global labor issues ( China's rural labor crisis, global unionism, the World Bank) than an interactive commentary, but there is an option for reader commentary. The parent organization is headed by activist/writers Tim Costello and Jeremy Brecher.

Work Related
http://joancollinslambert.typepad.com/work_related/
Created by Joan Collins Lambert, ILR labor educator and former journalist, Work Related focuses on news and commentary about the Rochester N.Y. labor scene.

Working Life: Daily Blog
http://workinglife.typepad.com/
Jonathan Tasini, former president of the National Writers Union and current political gadfly, here comments on labor and the economy and whatever issues strike his fancy.

Workplace Prof Blog
http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/laborprof_blog/
Designed for law school professors, this blog is edited by two law professors from N. Kentucky Univ. and Univ. of Mississippi . Postings include news and legal developments in the areas of labor and employment law, announcements of upcoming conferences, and citations of new scholarship in the field.

AFL-CIO Now: News That Works
http://blog.aflcio.org/
As the title indicates, the new AFL-CIO blog is of the newsfeed variety, with observations on union-related political and business events in the U.S. and other countries.

Blogging Search Engines

Google Blog Search
http://blogsearch.google.com/

BlogStreet
http://www.blogstreet.com/

DayPop
http://www.daypop.com/

— Researched by Donna L. Schulman, Lenz and Catherwood Libraries