Posted by Bruce Pilgrim
Talking to My Cats: 8-28-08
Office cubicles are a cruel joke on those of us who flatter ourselves that we operate in "The Information Economy." Sometimes called "pubicules" because of the public, out in the open nature of the "open office" environment, cubes totally blow.
Half walls are not walls at all. They're more like hedges – minimally decorative and totally lacking in privacy.
Remember privacy? Yes, my furry friends, there really was a time when the innermost secrets and the intimate details of our lives were kinda, sorta private. At the very least we were happily ignorant of all that was known about us by shadowy third parties such as the IRS, employers, and data miners.
You used to have the illusion of being able restrict access to any romantic or financial indiscretions, discussing sensitive matters only in private, behind closed doors. Closeable doors were also very handy when you were on deadline, needed to concentrate, and work undisturbed. Today, there are no doors, just openings in your hedges through any intruder empowers himself to waltz.
If they're tall enough, interlopers can appear as creepy disembodied heads looming above the hedge. This unnerving experience alone is enough to make you yearn for that private office you used to have, or wish you used to have.
I know things about co-workers' marriages, medical histories, and extracurricular activities I'd very much prefer not to know. No doubt, they've gleaned similarly interesting or appalling tidbits about me. We're right next to each other with no filters aside from our own discretion, taking it all in because it's right there. Even though I have no interest whatsoever in your upcoming colonoscopy, unbidden and unwelcome images still invade my imagination.
Building owners and management will tell you that it's about collaboration; cubicle towns supposedly promote teamwork and provide the ability to reconfigure space quickly to respond to changing business needs. That is pure bullshit. Cubicles are really about HVAC issues and saving a few bucks off the utility bills.
Privacy, schmivacy. Let's concentrate on squeezing every dime of cost out of the system so we can maximize executive compensation. Let's face it, yachts are expensive to buy and maintain. And as for vacation homes in Vail, well, don't get me started.
We need walls, damnit! And most especially doors that can be closed or even locked when needed.
Posted by Bruce Pilgrim
So, I've been getting down with this social media stuff. Second Life might be big fun, I imagine, if I can ever acquire a better graphics processor, some rudimentary programming abilities, and a hankering for virtual sex. Meanwhile, I've blogged, YouTubed, Twittered, Digged, Wikkied, and Whatchamacallited. So, I'm now one of the foremost experts in the metaverse and blogosphere.
OK, the truth is, I'm much more familiar with anti-social media, such as calls from bill collectors, rude gestures from other motorists, and Fox News. I have dicked around a little in social media, and I have found out blogging, which is supposed to be a two-way thing, a conversation, is mostly just a way to vent millions of spleens. (See global warming.)
Years ago, you'd have to own a newspaper or buy advertising in order to annoy people with your stupid opinions. Today you can opine online for free. You might even find a more or less substantial audience of like-thinking lunatics and make a little money on the side. Right now, for example, Google and amazon combined owe me 7 cents.
Social networks, however, are mainly about what I believe young people call "hooking up."
Now, with every sub-atomic particle in my meager being, I hope never be single again. For a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I love my wife, Sharon, very much. And from a practical standpoint, I'm fairly sure I'd never be able to find anyone else willing to put up with me.
I must admit, however, that I'm very surprised and more than a little flattered by all the attractive young women who apparently want to become my "friend."
At least once a week, I get an e-mail from another young lady whom I've never met. Each appears to be responding to my MySpace page and finds me interesting enough to want to connect with me.
Posted by Bruce Pilgrim
Am I the only one who believes the term "press" is just a little archaic?
Early in my long and extinguished PR career, a TV newsman rather patiently explained to me that since the company he worked for did not actually use a press, he was irked by the term "press release."
The press, in his eyes, meant newspaper reporters. Ergo, ever since the advent of television news (not to mention radio), calling something a press release was outdated. Today, with the Internet delivering vast amounts of information via that "series of tubes" Senator Ted Stevens told us about, the term would seem to be even more anachronistic than ever.
How about if we just call these things, I don't know, news releases?
And while we're at it, let's stop calling that the gaggle of vultures, bottom feeders, pretenders, and valiant guardians of truth and justice "the press." They really should now and forever be referred to as "the media." That is, unless you prefer something somewhat more classic such as "the town criers," "the smoke signalists," or "them what scratch squiggly stuff on the walls of the cave."
Posted by Bruce Pilgrim
Who Died and Made IT God?
The corporate IT department is a necessary evil, at best. Somebody has to set up and maintain the networks, the hardware, the help desk, and all that other techie stuff. Beyond that, IT needs to stay the hell out of the way.
Blogger Paul Murphy put it this way in a post on zdnet:
"...the most difficult balancing act for IT leadership involves ensuring that users get to do whatever users want to do provided that what they’re doing doesn’t contravene law or explicit corporate policy. (Italics are mine.) In other words, the IT answer is always "Yes," unless we know that doing whatever it is contravenes legitimately established and communicated corporate policy or applicable external law. It’s like being in the military: an absolute duty to obey 'those appointed over you,' unless doing so knowingly contravenes applicable national law or the code."
If only IT really operated that way. Over the course of my long and extinguished career, I have found corporate IT departments have way too much power -- operating instead as the police force, as censors, and most especially, as roadblocks.
OK, OK, you can't have employees looking at porn, playing games, and goofing off on the web all day long. However, at the places I've worked, decisions about which sites are banned and which are not are made inconsistently, if not capriciously. Some sports sites are off limits and others are not, for example. They also still use nannyware products that ban websites about Sussex, England.
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