Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Employers not to Snoop over Facebook Data

German government is trying to push a law that will prevent employers to check their prospective employees' Facebook data. The draft presented by Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere is a lame -still positive, though, attempt to address surmounting problems created by social networks:

It will be illegal to become a Facebook friend with an applicant in order to check out private details as some people seem to be indiscriminate about whom they accept as a friend. If an employer turns down an application based on the Facebook postings, a rejected job applicant could take the company to court and claim damages.

The new law also aims to limit video surveillance in the workplace like lavatories and locker rooms after a public outrage when it was discovered that some corporations have been checking on employee e-mails and filming sales clerks during coffee breaks. However, de Maiziere continues,

Employers will still be allowed to run a search on the web on their applicants. Anything out in public is fair game, as are postings on networks specifically created for business contacts, such as LinkedIn.

My! Orwell would be proud, very very proud. Let us take stock of what we have so far. There are employers out there that:
  • place video feeds in bathrooms and locker rooms and other places (left to your imagination)
  • befriend current and prospective employees in various networks to gather intel
  • read private e-mails
  • film us during coffee breaks
  • run searches on us to find anything fishy
Do you have a company phone? You really shouldn't, really!

Oh, this also sums up why businesses crash so easily. Apparently the executives are too busy entertaining themselves with workers' data and they have no time left to develop strategy. Focus on people a business guru once said, but I can not remember who.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mobile Nightmare on Life Street

I missed the computer revolution by a few years. True, I could have caught up if I had really wanted to (this statement is not entirely true) but I was in the wrong place and Madame Fortune had swung me on a different path.

I tried to find and correct the missing pieces in the years to come and to a great extent I was successful. Barring programming, I can almost do anything on/with a PC.

Then came the next revolution: the mobile phone. I did not like it very much. Maybe this can be attributed to my age at that time. I do not remember where I read it but it was something like this: humans are quick and eager to grasp (and use) innovations only up to a certain age. Then, we tend to be more conservative. So, apart from its basic and originally intended use, i.e. talking, I hardly use a mobile phone. I usually find it impractical.

I did not make a fuss or give a second thought about it until I decided to observe how people and friends around me used their computers. Their interaction with a PC was almost limited to reading mails and spending time in Facebook, Twitter, etc. Guess what? You do not need a PC for such activities. A mobile phone is more than enough.

You can argue that a computer is much better suited to use within the confines of your home because it has a bigger screen but one day, a genius will find (or already have found) a simple way to connect a mobile phone to a monitor or a TV and poof: you do not need a PC any more.

Honestly this is creeping me out. I have spent considerable time musing over the cultural and social implications of this transition, but I can not say I am happy. The whole process emphasizes being connected, yet I feel more detached each passing day.