I’m eating some breakfast in Adealide, reading the local “news” paper (in the context of this blog entry, any reference to news is going to be open to question, hence the quotes) coming across this piece of “reporting”:
I have already made it clear in my Horizons presentations about my dim view of walls as a strategy, and more so, that it seriously dents and stated desire to be an “innovative” society. Walled strategies are ones based on continued maintenance of the walls themselves leaving what is behind the walls to whither.
What hit me as I read this “news” was how shallow and worthless this representation of “reporting” really was. There are facts stated without reference, and a complete lack of counter view points. This is not news at all, and fits in its layout where it is adjacent to a photo about some fashion girls jewels and gown. So let’s read through the news.
WORKERS and school students are being banned from using internet networking sites Facebook and MySpace because of concerns about time-wasting.
A sudden explosion in the popular sites – with more than 100 people an hour signing up to Facebook in Australia – has forced workplaces to act to stop lost productivity.
A recent study found the time vacuum could be costing employers up to $5 billion a year.
A statement is made that productivity is lost. Where are the measures? Oh, there is a reference to “A recent study” (uncited). This technique of referring to such reports worked very successfully.. by folks like US Senator Joseph McCarthy in his efforts to witch hunt communists “I have here in my hand a list of 205 . . . a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department. . . .” (the paper in is hand was mostl likely a receipt from his dry cleaner).
So what is this report? Who knows? This “news”paper is modeling a terrible model for students by reporting w/o citing sources. So I might was well say I am referring to the same report, where one also learns that other time wasting activities include:
- $8 billion a year in time spent shopping on ebay
- $12 billion a year time spent on cigarette breaks
- $16 billion a year time spent talking about rugby
- $45 billion a year spent reading pointless emails from bosses that could have been communicated more efficiently via wikis, IM collaborative document editors
- $32 billion a year spent filling out repetitive paper forms that could be done online
Okay, I admit- I made those up. But so just as well might be decisions based upon an unreferenced report claiming this $billion “fact”. I readily dispute even such claims of “productivity losses” as if you really delve into them, they are based on wild extrapolations.
The Education Department’s internet administrators have also cut off access to staff in district and corporate offices.
School students are also banned from accessing YouTube.
Adelaide Crows football club staff are banned from Facebook, while Channel 10 employees can only log on to social networking sites as well as YouTube and internet auction site eBay with permission for work purposes.
“Ten permits staff who require, in the course of their jobs, access to social networking sites,” a spokeswoman said. “Such sites are bandwidth intensive, and the priority for internet use must obviously be for business needs.”
The Seven network has also imposed a blanket ban on MySpace and Facebook to prevent cyber time-wasting.
So in essence, access to social network resources are arbitrarily yanked by the cloaked mysterious “IT Guys”. Can you image the amount of organizational good will this inspires? I have never worked for an organization that took pervasive sweeping steps without doing so in an announced, public forum. You always had a recourse to address such moves. I have never worked for “The Man”.
Launched by then 19-year-old Harvard University student Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, the site allows people to “poke” each other, send virtual gifts, email, join networks, post photos and videos, and graffiti friends’ “walls”.
It is regarded as a more mature version of MySpace, which is popular with teens.
These sites are large, organic, systems, and one could easily describe in terms of all the inane, silly activities that people do, or one can describe the positive ways people use them to make, sustain their connections, create connections, do good, be creative:
- Beth Kanter has organized a successful fund raising campaign in Facebook to raise money to sponsor college students in Cambodia
- Web Worker Daily lists 12 ways to use facebook professionally.
- Angela Thomas cites a new form of storytelling in citing the use of Facebook for a Choose Your Own Adventure Game
- A published, referred article on a study at Michigran state University cites benefits of Facebook, including “Facebook usage was found to interact with measures of psychological well-being, suggesting that it might provide greater benefits for users experiencing low self-esteem and low life satisfaction.
The Read/Write Web has an article Facebook at Work -Slacking or Networking which is an article that can school the author of the AdelaideNow article I am bashing because it not only provides balance, it mentions the mysterious report:
Earlier this week a Sydney Morning Herald article claimed that Facebook “may be costing Australian businesses $5 billion a year.” The quote is from an analytics firm called SurfControl, in a report which calculated “that if an employee spends an hour each day on Facebook, it costs the company more than $6200 a year. There are about 800,000 workplaces in Australia.”
So this “$5 billion lost in productivity” FACT is based on a game of extrapolation of employees spending 30 minutes a day on Facebook, multiplying it through the wringer. If your business is basing decisions based on this kind of logic, I have some ocean front property I can sell you in Arizona.
Pointless meetings alone likely account for $15 billion loss. But more so, if your employees are that bored, un-inspired on the job to be friending and poking, it is more of an issue of the design of your workplace than blaming the internet.
The rest of the fluff “news” article runs:
The Transport, Energy and Infrastructure Department regularly reviews activity logs looking for inappropriate internet use.
While staff can access sites like MySpace and YouTube for work purposes, they can face disciplinary action if caught breaching its internet and email policy.
“The use of departmental internet and computer resources to develop or support personal web pages is prohibited,” a spokeswoman said.
“The department encourages use of technologies to improve departmental outcomes and efficiency of processes. This includes accessing a wide range of internet content.”
SA Water staff who try to log on to Facebook and MySpace are greeted with a message saying “access denied”.
Facebook boasts more than 48 million active users, with Australians the fourth biggest users. But its soaring popularity has raised security concerns, with users being warned about identity theft.
The 2007 Symantec Internet Security Threat Report said hackers were now homing in on networking sites to glean people’s personal details.
The last one there is a classic technique one may credit to the current US government- motivate people by fear. There is no direct information to document this. Sure hackers are out there. Sure they are hacking. But might not a better societal approach to be a positive broad based campaign to help people understand how to be “safely” online and best practices for personal disclosure?
So lastly, I am left with this image that Australia has this mixed personalty metaphor of the rugged individualist (the footie playing, pub hanging, outback crossing, wave surfing mate) yet it lives under systems of organizations acting as Mommie.
Mommie says Facebook is dangerous. Mommie says MySpace is scary. Mommie decides what Baby can do.
A society wishing to launch full speed into the future is going to have a lot of challenges pulling along all of the purse strings.