|Privacy, the Internet and the workplace — should boundaries exist?|
Dave McMahon and Margaret Rouse take sides on whether or not employees have the right to expect privacy on social networking sites.
“Be very careful of what you put on the Web. Anyone can see it.”
I hear these words over and over again. I go out with friends on Saturday evening and on Sunday morning I urgently call them and ask them not to tag certain pictures because I’m afraid that my boss will see them.
I’m lucky to have a good job and I would be foolish to risk it. It isn’t fair that I can’t let my friends post pictures of the fun time we had, or tell stories on my blog about our antics.
It’s unethical of my boss to browse my personal life and use it to judge me as a professional.
Twitter, professional blogs and even Facebook accounts are being recognized as useful resources among corporate teams — that is until I want to use my account for social purposes.
It becomes a professional trap when employers utilize the same forums to monitor social lives and take disciplinary or discriminatory action.
We don’t always choose which photos of us are tagged on Facebook and I find the intricacies of some Web 2.0 applications make it easy for private conversations to become public knowledge quickly and, often times, accidentally.
It is wrong to punish promising professionals for a conversation they thought was private.
Employers justify monitoring with claims that watching employee blogs or Facebook accounts is an excellent way to catch them in a lie. Last week’s “sick day” was actually spent on the beach with friends?
However, I think these practices create more problems than they solve — like mistrust and more dishonesty.
I believe these monitoring practices make a respectful and clearly understood separation between personal and professional lives nearly impossible.
Putting an end to these monitoring practices is the first step toward creating a more comfortable and more productive workplace.
Dave McMahon is an aspiring writer and literary professional. He is currently an Editorial Assistant at Tech Target while finishing a degree at Northeastern University.
“You have zero privacy anyway. Just get over it.” – Sun Chairman Scott McNealy 1999
In 1993, the New Yorker published a cartoon by Peter Steiner. Two dogs were sitting in front of a computer workstation. One dog was sitting in a chair typing and the other dog was sitting on the floor. The dog that was typing turned and explained “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”
The cartoon quickly became a classic, in part because the dog spoke the truth. In 1993, the Internet was anonymous. Nobody used their real name. Like with the CB radio fad of a generation before, early Internet adopters had handles — only this time around they were called screen names. We weren’t Bob Smith or Nancy Jones. We were Bulldog123 and ByteMe99.
What changed? The Internet evolved from a text-based medium to become a multi-media environment — and we started to shop on the Internet. And the dollars brought marketers. And marketers, who needed to see what we were doing on the Internet so they could market to us more effectively, brought cookies. And although some of made a fuss, most of us accepted their little bits of code, gladly trading privacy for a smoother user experience.
And then the Dot Com bubble burst. Which made us all get real. Literally.
Although the sock puppet from Pets Dot Com was looking for a new job, it was clear that the Internet itself wasn’t hurt. It just wasn’t a place for ByteMe99 anymore. The party was over.
Thankfully, a certain search engine’s growing popularity helped us adjust to using our real names. We even got a new verb out of it – googled. We googled our friends and business contacts and found there were benefits from using your real name. People could find you. You could find them. And then social networking sites came along and boosted the whole thing up a notch.
Today, everyone not only knows you’re a dog on the Internet – they know what breed of dog you are, how old you are, where you live and whether your master is a fan of “Ceasar’s Way” or “It’s Me or the Dog.”
Ok. I’m exaggerating. Maybe.
My point is that as the Internet matured and proved to be more than just an interesting diversion, it also became a public place. And because it’s public, there’s no such thing as privacy.
If you were at a football game and you spotted your boss across the field and didn’t want him to see you, you wouldn’t say “Hey, you can’t look at me because I’m not at work,” would you?
No. That would be ridiculous. Instead, you’d do what any normal person would do in that situation. You’d hide.
I’m not kidding.
How do you hide on the Internet? First, take the time to manage your privacy settings. Use private posts on Twitter. Limit what co-workers and friends of friends can see about you on Facebook. Uncheck the box that says anyone can tag you in photos or write on your wall. And don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the New York Times.
Or do what we all did back in 1999. Use a screen name for your personal networking. Because there’s no such thing as privacy on the Internet.
Margaret Rouse is a technical writer with more than twenty years experience.
|“Twitter has been around for years, but only recently has it become the tool-de-jour for people in the public eye. Along the way we’ll see the inevitable story of losing a job because of Twitter, a marriage broken up over Twitter, probably a tear-jerking tale of a family being reunited by Twitter, and then something new will be on the scene.”
Nick Gillard-Byers, as quoted in Indiscreet Tweets
All the hoopla about Twitter brings back memories of what it was like when the Internet was new. Right now there are concerns about privacy — next step will be cries about how advertising has ruined a good thing. Because you can bet your bottom dollar that ads will be coming to Twitter.
|Like the move from silent pictures to ‘talkies’, the transition to electronic publishing will prove fatal to laggards. Those aggressively pursuing and developing e-books will rise to take control of the publishing industry.
Mike Elgan, Here comes the e-book revolution
Mike Elgan’s done a good job breaking down the reasons why eBooks are about to reach the tipping point. This week’s announcement of the Kindle app for the iPhone was just one more ingredient in the perfect storm.
|Real ID creates the largest single database about U.S. people that has ever been created. This is the people who brought you long lines at the DMV marrying the people at DHS who brought us Katrina. It’s a marriage we need to break up.
Tim Sparapani, as quoted in National ID Card Rules Unveiled
Real ID is back in the news. Secretary Janet Napolitano (Department of Homeland Security) is looking at cost effective alternatives…the most controversial of which is an “enhanced” driver’s license with RFID. It’s making big waves with privacy advocates who see the technology being used for nefarious purposes.
|Amazon’s expansion of Kindle to the iPhone makes me wonder if we’ll soon see Kindle as not just a device, but as a full-fledged publishing platform.
Nick Mediati, Amazon Brings Kindle to iPhone
Back in 2007, there was a lot of speculation about Apple going head-to-head with Amazon by creating their own “Safari Pad” reader to compete with Kindle. How very smart of them to PARTNER with Amazon instead. I think Nick Mediati has hit on something important — especially after seeing how very easy Amazon has made it to publish on Kindle. Kindle is a platform, not a device.
My prediction? Short stories will become popular again. Teachers will publish third grader’s stories on Amazon so Mom and Dan can download and send to Grandma. Nicole Lee compared the reading experience on both devices. Check it out.
This is just one more reason why Apple is so smart. You see, the key to the iPhone’s popularity is not just its “cool” factor — it’s how well it plays with others. And that’s a lesson that Apple is using to win the browser wars.
Industry watchers Net Applications recently reported that Safari owns 67 percent or the market share for mobile browsing.
|Toyota installs IT only when two conditions exist: the human process has been improved as much as it can without the technology, and the technology is proven and reliable.
Kent Blumberg, Lean IT – what comes first, technology or waste reduction?
A lot of companies are paying lip service to “doing more with less” and banging the PR drums that they’re “embracing the principles of lean manufacturing.” As far as I’m concerned, it’s just more sign that the role of the CIO is morphing into that of Chief Process Officer.
|“When we started out with virtualization, we thought, ‘VMs are easy and cheap, so let’s go. Let’s create as many as we need.’ We ended up with several hundred more machines than we actually needed.”
Chuck Brust, as quoted in Virtualization users beware: Sprawl is real
Today’s Word of the Day is virtualization sprawl. It wasn’t such an important consideration when VMs were just used for testing, but now that we’re finding VMs in production, vendors are scrambling to come up with tools that allow administrators to monitor and manage VMs more efficiently so that virtualization remains cost-effective. The holy grail? A tool that allows the admin to see and manage both physical machines and VMs from one dashboard.
Every time I read about virtualization sprawl, I’m reminded of the Start Trek espisode The Trouble with Tribbles. Click – new server. Click- new server. Click – new server. Will the exponential propogation of VMs will eat any profits we might have gained from moving to virtualization?
|If iRobot had made a 4-foot-tall Roomba with a face and a hand to hold a vacuum hose, the company wouldn’t have sold more than ten units.|
Yesterday CNN had a short article about the RG3, a new robot lawnmower for golf courses. One of the challenges in developing the mower was figuring out how to ‘teach’ the robot boundries so it would know when to stop mowing. According to Scott Jones, RG3’s navigation system uses a combination of ultrasonics and infrared to triangulate its location within a perimeter that’s created by four beacons. Basically, it works like Roomba, my favorite robot of all time.
I’ve had Roomba for four years now — yet when I talk about how it starts itself up each day at noon, cleans the entire downstairs and then puts itself back on the charger, people look at me like I’m making it up.
I don’t get it. We Americans are perfectly willing to accept that our telephones can be used to view movies, listen to audiobooks, play games and send and receive mail — but when it comes to believing that a robot can be more than a toy, we’re skeptical.
BTW, here’s some of my other favorite robots…
(If you can’t see the video, allow pop-ups and refresh the page)
|If I could give only one piece of advice to technical marketers everywhere, it would be this: Show me, don’t tell me.
Jon Udell, Screencasting tips
Today’s Word of the Day is screencasting. Although the concept has been around since the days when we used Lotus Screencam, Jon Udell is generally credited with coming up with the new name, screencast.
|“We’d give them to the kids who looked the nerdiest. We told them we weren’t allowed to give them out and say ‘The record label would totally freak out if they knew!’ The next day, it would be everywhere on the Internet.”
Damian Kulash, Blend of old, new media launched OK Go
Paul Gillin sent around one of the best examples of buzz marketing I’ve seen in a long time — it’s put out by Disney. You have to try it to see the magic. (Scroll up the Disney page to send it out by email.)