June 24, 2003

Blogging for Business, Direct from the Source

Reinforce corporate brand message. Protect corporate brand equity and intellectual property. Disclaim all responsibility for any legal or other consequences. Write in upbeat 8th grade pro-business politically correct sincere prose. Use occasional commas, but not the mysterious semi-colon. Do not use hard words, nor refer to literature, philosophy, religion, politics or any topic that requires a high school diploma, or that might be controversial with target clients. Stay on message: Bondage is Good; Wealth Bondage is Better.

From the Tutor's guide to the management structure, style and substance (or lack thereof) of a corporate blog.

"Blogging is the one place I can think of," he writes, "where the citizen can beat the biggest companies, daily." The reason? Blogging requires a particular human voice with a distinctive personality, whereas the corporate voice is produced by those who must function as "interchangeable parts."

But what about the unique and distinctive voices of the blog we know as Wealth Bondage? Well, apparently the economy of blogging has gone global:

"So how does WB consistently turn out a highly personalized, totally Authentic, choir of voices daily? Well, candidly, we outsource it to India."


For the benefit of my adjunct readers, I note that Candidia Cruikshanks of Wealth Bondage is holding an adjunct employment auction. Apparently some mid-level flunky reminded her that since global blogging sweatshops generate negative publicity (and negative publicity adds up to diminished shareholder confidence and loss of corporate revenue), she should strive, wherever possible, to keep her domestics domestic. Grant that the auction sounds frightfully demeaning, can it be any worse than the annual medieval hiring fair at the AHA or the MLA?:

Adjuncts Wanted!

Wealth Bondage is committed to keeping as many blogging jobs as possible on American Soil. The only labor that can compete effectively with our Blog Warren in Calcutta are Adjuncts with PhDs from top schools. Please submit writing sample in the comment section below. Those selected will be interviewed by Dr. Chadwallah. No hidden meanings please. Your comment should express as briefly as possible why you aspire to a Career as a Corporate Submissive and why you feel that you are qualified based on the beatings you have received in Academia. Please stipulate your minimum acceptable salary. We are holding a reverse auction. The current low bid is $14,300, no benefits. Do I hear $13,000?

I'm working on my writing sample, to be submitted along with my new structural-functionalist functional resume.


The Tutor describes my statement as "a trumped-up farrago of upbeat business bs, academic prose, and Stoic philosophy:"

When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state, and trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries, and look upon myself, and curse my fate, haply I think on my blog and then I churn out another entry.

I am a life time learner with the proven ability to master and apply complex concepts quickly, creatively and to maximum effect, and for little pay and no benefits. I have extensive experience both as an adjunct and as a blogger, and I span the boundaries between both worlds on my Invisible Adjunct blog, where I shift the paradigms on a daily basis. It is a measure of my modesty and self-effacement that I do so under cover of a pseudonym. I play for the team, and I play to win, but without regard to narrow self-interest, producing high-quality work for little recognition and scant remuneration. In my career as an adjunct, I have developed and implemented highly effective strategies for dealing with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, the whims and vagaries of the market, and the capricious demands of my edu-corporate whoremasters. I humbly submit my application as a high end product available at bargain basement rates.

I just hope I make the shortlist.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at June 24, 2003 09:51 PM

Outsourcing to India is actually a big and occasionally bitter deal in the tech writing world. Some of the discussions on TECHWR-L have been pretty bitter, to put it kindly.

I can laugh, but there are people who wouldn't.

Posted by: Ginger at June 25, 2003 08:40 AM

Why exactly is it virtuous to refuse to use tech services from India? Are you helping those folks?

Posted by: gerald garvey at June 25, 2003 11:47 AM

As a tech writer who's been out of work for a little over a year, I can sympathize that the jobs just aren't there anymore as they were during the dot-com hayday. Unfortunately, instead of directing anger at corporate management that decides to hire offshore writers now to fill positions, many tech writers seem to be directing most of their racist animosity towards H1B visa workers and foreign workers abroad. It happens online and at STC and other IT organization meetings, and I find it distasteful.

Posted by: jim at June 25, 2003 11:59 AM


Thanks for that quick reply. I agree that it is appalling to direct one's ire toward poor folks in foreign lands. Here is a tougher one (I am not sure myeself where I come down on it). Is it even OK to attack management for outsourcing to places like India? Would these folks really be helped if management were to refuse to do business with them? I don't think it is much of an answer to say "they can outsource only if they pay as much as they do for US labor". I would imagine that the willingness to take lower pay is a big way they compete for work.

Posted by: gerald garvey at June 25, 2003 12:05 PM

Gerald-- Well, part of me rebels against using cheaper labor in a foreign country, as a way of lowering wages here. For example, Indian tech writers in Bangalore are making less than our (i.e., US) minimum wage, but it's a good wage for them. How can a tech writer in the US compete? Move to India and run an outsourcing company, stay put and wait for the inevitable failure of the fairly short-sighted outsourcing strategy (see infra), or something else. Note that programmers are facing this same problem. I've spoken with Chinese and Indian friends about the whole outsourcing problem, as well as US colleagues who have personal outsourcing experience, and they all agree with me on one major point: what is necessary to make outsourcing work is to establish the fairly non-existent category of middle, or product, management in China and India to make IT workers there produce something that is similar to what US IT workers produce. --jfb

Posted by: jim at June 25, 2003 02:16 PM

Gerald: So no one should have a decent wage unless and until everyone around the world has a decent wage? I don't think this is what you intend to be saying, but it seems to me the clear implication of your question. (I realize you haven't come down on either side, but it seems to me that if the question is posed this way, the clear answer is "no." It is not the moral duty of American workers to suffer so that foreign workers can improve their quality of life, any more than it is America's moral duty to live in penury because people in Nepal or Congo live in penury.)

Posted by: language hat at June 25, 2003 03:18 PM

IF you are comfortable breaking down the world into black and white categories of "decent living" and "penury" then there is no problem with refusing to hire folks from poorer countries. They'll be in penury whether or not you hire them, so there is no downside. But if you take the position that pay that would be appallingly low for us is an improvement for the person who accepts the job, the moral picture is not so clear. And if you decide to hire someone from a poor country at a US pay scale, you have what we call an "excess supply" problem. Too many poorer folks want the work at that pay and you cannot hire them all. How do you decide?

Posted by: gerald garvey at June 25, 2003 05:33 PM

Well, you could make a decision about whether to hire American or Indian (or whatever) tech writers based on a quality vs. price sliding-scale metric of some sort. I imagine that's what many companies do.

Quality can be construed in a variety of ways. A lot of factors can go into it, including developer access, the writer's background and skills, availability of tools, and many other things.

As for the moral issue, you're talking about business decisions. Many businesses do not feel bound to make decisions based on traditional moral criteria. Many managers feel a moral obligation to maximize shareholder profit. Whether it's moral to pay for the services of an American or foreign worker may not even come into the equation.

Posted by: Ginger at June 25, 2003 08:05 PM

I would like to keep our blog ghost writers in the US, so I can provide closer supervision, but price is certainly an issue. If IA costs $13,000 and I can hire another Indian blogger, like Dr. Chadwallah, for $4,000, I have an obligation to my customers, stockholders, and to my own stock options to put aside my patriotic sentiments. I am not even sure it is moral to favor American citizens over Indian citizens. Wouldn't the total sum of human happiness be greatest, if we raised the living standards of the most disadvantged? Afterall, Adjuncts are pretty close to the point of diminishing returns with their income. What is a dollar more or less to them? But think how much happiness it would buy in Calcutta.

Posted by: Candidia at June 25, 2003 08:48 PM