Tag Archives: openness

How I got my stolen laptop back through Twitter

We had a break-in a few weeks ago, and I mentioned it on Twitter. I didn’t really want to moan too much, it was more a passing observation, as in “today I got up and found the window open…” but when a friend asked me how the burglar(s) got in, I used the h-word when referring to them (I know from my daughter’s primary school guidelines that “hate” is forbidden in the complex, multi-cultural world we live in).

Anyway, it was probably good that I got upset and angry as the person who had just bought my laptop online had found all my personal details and files and was also reading my Twitter updates.

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Computer says yes! I love IT managers but…

As Nick Carr predicted in The Big Switch, some of our most familiar career paths are being rendered obsolete  by technology: the IT manager is one who may have little more to do than doodle on post-it notes in the office of the future.

Currently, the IT department is a powerful gatekeeper. When I was doing the research for Monkeys with Typewriters (and increasingly since), the IT department was all too often cited as a major stumbling block when it came to introducing new, social technologies across the workplace. As one senior civil servant bluntly (and grumpily) put it, 

“The IT department’s agenda is to fulfil their aims.  It's not to support us in our aims.  So if you ask can I do this or not, if I take this route it would be a lot of work for them.  The best route is no work for them at all so they would choose no.  Always choose no.”

But as we know, the walls are coming down. And, once the impact of the digitally-literate generation taken hold, there’s more chance we’ll get the social organisations we strive for.  Smart employers will see this change coming, and embrace it:

“To maximise efficiency among tech savvy workers,” says trend forecaster William Higham, “companies will need to adopt new working practices. Restrictions on personal technology use will need to be reassessed. So too will the current practice of relying on traditional IT departments for input on new technology resources, as knowledge is democratised across departments by the experience of personal use.”

Tom Standage, The Economist’s Digital Editor, makes a similar point when talking specifically about social media: “People who are entering the workforce now think that this is how software works. Some managers talk about Facebook and other [social] networks as being time wasters, but in fact the opposite is true. This is the way that software is increasingly going to look, and that will impact on the way companies are run, because when you have a general discussion about things on a Facebook “wall”, you tend to get much less email and much less wasted time.”

So, time to stop restricting your employees in their use of social media, and start seeing it as a training investment.

Photo: Amarand Agasi

Should you use your personal Twitter account when starting a business?

A friend of mine has set up a new business. It’s a modest operation at present and he’s the only employee. Should he create a new Twitter identity specifically for the business or should he switch the direction of his existing personal Twitter account?

My advice: stick to the identity you’ve got. Key reasons:

1. Time. It’s going to take twice as much out of your day to manage two (or more) accounts – coming up with “original content” for second (or even third and fourth) feeds can be taxing ;)

2. If your business identity is closely aligned with your personality and values (as, in this day and age, it should) then you might as well be one and the same account, rather than “pretend” to be two completely separate identities.

3. If you’d like your business account to be along the lines of friendly, irreverent, informal but useful (and you’d be living in the last century if you didn’t), then you might as well keep it as the (hopefully) loveable person you already are, rather than struggling to find an informal “voice” as a non-human entity.

4. Yes, you may well loose some followers if you bang on about your business, but if your followers generally like you and you inject a reasonable amount of humour into things, any you loose will be those of least value to you.

5. If you want to be transparent and open in your business (as we all do, right?), then Tweeting as your self rather than a third party really makes the most sense.

Photo credit: Saaam