Friday, 29 July 2011

Mission Accomplished thus far..

I have now completed writing up the data analysis - over 15,000 words of it! The general findings are that there is no specific intention by the bloggers to transfer tacit knowledge between police officers, but that there is a strong inclination towards public education. The bloggers want the public to be aware of what they do on a day to day basis and what affects them in their job - whether it is obstructive clients, an overflow of paperwork or a lack of manpower. They often want to get their voices heard, so while anonymity is perceived as essential to protect their jobs, on the other hand they do want to reach as many people as possible.This is therefore a form of knowledge transfer in itself.

The other main motives for blogging include releasing frustrations and allowing a place to vent; it also allows bloggers to talk about situations and help them deal with hard-to-process emotions connected with their job - e.g. dealing with death.This particular subject is written about by different bloggers and the support they receive from their readers to such posts is very noticeable. There are in the archives some extremely good creative writing posts on this subject and how the individual tries to deal with it.

Finally, the other main motivation is community-based. A lot of bloggers are inspired by existing bloggers to add their mite and there is a strong police blogging community evident. On the blogs which have greater numbers of readers the comments section engenders swapping of experiences, discussions, agreement and disagreement, jokes and banter. Often police bloggers comment on each others' posts. Even with lesser numbers of readers and comments the community is clear - when an abusive comment is left the readers and blogger almost close ranks as they engage with the commenter to discuss the views held, or to defend or protect the abused.

I would like to thank everyone who consented to speak to me in person or writing in connection with this study. I have protected any personal details given and only quoted things which are already in the blogosphere.

This blog will now go into hiatus for the time being, hopefully to be revived in the near future to continue this fascinating look into a profession in the throes of change and acknowledged by themselves as being under a great deal of pressure.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

One Minute Madness

At last week's DREaM project launch conference, I volunteered to do a 'one minute madness' presentation on our project. As you might guess, you're given precisely one minute (note the stopwatch!) to present a research paper. Slightly more nerve-wracking than my usual presentations and papers, but good fun nonetheless...I'm on about 12 minutes 15 seconds into the video:

Monday, 11 July 2011

Still working away

with apologies for the lack of updates (been working hard noting the blogs plus been away for a week), I've now drawn a line under the data collection side of things.

In total 82 blogs were looked at. An additional 31 were noted to be shut down and 5 are now private. A few stand out initially - one is not anonymous (Inspector Guilfoyle) and the Coppersblog, noted by many to be the original one, is the most popular with other police bloggers, being on 48 blogrolls (albeit it is now one of the private ones).

As stated previously, the motivations are many and varied. Inspector Guilfoyle's in particular seems to be aimed at the education of the public/fellow police as he spends some time explaining statistics and target-setting; both the advantages and disadvantages. In common with many of the bloggers he is against targets, but adopts this alternative method of putting his point forward.

Interestingly, there does not seem to be a great amount of conscious information transfer as motivation. The bloggers do not appear to be passing on their experiences for the purposes of helping each other but rather simply as story-telling or catharsis. When asked if they would ask for information or help via the blog, one reader/commentator advised that they would not, preferring to go to personal contacts. The internet was too public.

On the other hand some help is sometimes requested/given on non specific things like the set-up of the blog itself and general advice on dealing with emotional fallout. It is not possible to tell whether the stories told ever help other police in how they tackle similar circumstances but the posts do not appear to be written from that point of view - being descriptive rather than proscriptive.

Another restriction on the stories told is the requirement not only to disguise the facts to avoid identification but also to prevent breaking the law by talking about a case before it has gone to court. Within these parameters however the process of storytelling seems to help the blogger in a great many cases, providing a platform for opinions and stress-relief.

A different motivation is to be controversial and stimulate debate. Many bloggers will record their own opinion on a topic (often police-related) and ask for others, or simply put it up and wait for the comments. This approach, exemplified by Inspector Gadget or The Thinking Policeman, relies on the blog being well-read.