Enterprise IT Watch Blog

May 3 2011   2:51PM GMT

From pre-tablet dreams to questioning Obama’s transparency

Melanie Yarbrough Profile: MelanieYarbrough

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Videos such as this one spark a certain amount of nostalgia, not only for the clunky monster of a PC on Roger Fiddler’s desk but for the days before the Internet made everything so much easier and, well, so much harder. While Knight-Ridder had a little too much faith in man’s continuing loyalty to the newspaper, they pinpointed the crossroads where many vendors find themselves: “We may still use computers to create information but we’ll use the tablet to interact with information.”

This might account for the changing numbers as outlined by Tom Nolle at the Uncommon Wisdom blog:

PCs are not seeing the growth they once did…Some of the slowing is due to tablet encroachment, but most is likely due to people just not upgrading as often.

But the fruition of visions such as Knight-Ridder’s 1994 prediction about tablets marks another change, not only within the tech industry, but in the way the rest of the world interacts with the IT department. Interactions aren’t lassoed solely within a company’s in-house messaging or email system. Despite social networking services aimed at the enterprise such as Salesforce.com’s Chatter, users are still all over sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and not always for strictly business purposes. Sure, you could throw some policies at it and even make examples out of a few repeat offenders, but what happens when you’re the President or, more realistically, you work in a high-profile government office where quips on Facebook can have serious and reverberating effects?

Tuesday’s hearing on how the Presidential Records Act of 1978 applies to presidential record keeping of digital communications on the web brought up some of the gray areas facing enterprise IT departments everywhere. Philip Klein reports for the Washington Examiner:

Back in 1978, in the post-Watergate era, Congress passed the Presidential Records Act to preserve White House communications. But a lot has changed in the past 33 years, and on Tuesday the committee held a hearing about updating the law in an era of texting, instant messaging and social networking.

As House Oversight and Government Reform committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., noted that legislation did not foresee Facebook and Twitter. There are currently no restrictions on the personal items White House employees are allowed to bring into work, including tablets that would presumably allow them to send communication via personal accounts on outside cellular networks. While White House policy mandates that employees who conduct official business on personal email accounts forward those interactions to their work accounts, there are no firm policies on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, IM, and mobile text messaging.

Updates to the law were suggested, but as David Ferriero, archivist of the U.S. at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), stated, “Ultimately, responsibility for records management will always rest to some degree with individual federal employees, no matter what systems are in place. That was true in an era of exclusively paper records, no matter what systems are in place.”

Sadly, this seems to be the fallback of most enterprise IT security programs as well.

Melanie Yarbrough is the assistant community editor at ITKnowledgeExchange.com. Follow her on Twitter or send her an email at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.

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