Cam’s World 31 July 2007

I’m amused this morning that Duncan wrote up my “Telstra Bans Facebook” in TechCrunch and the rash of comments accusing him of being a Facebook shill. I often tell corporate-types when they ask about why blogging is important that I may only have a few hundred regular readers of my blog but a handful of them are people with real reach – like Duncan. Google “telstra facebook” and see what happens.

Meanwhile, some people like Allen Stern still miss the point. This isn’t about Facebook. This is about businesses feeling the need to block the use of online services because they feel their employees will waste time on them and not get the job done. I know of at least one Melbourne government agency that still blocks instant messenger! Even their online team can’t use it!

Any employee who has enough functioning brain cells to use a PC and the net should have enough to work autonomously towards a set out pre-agreed results. When companies block access to internet services, rather than change their corporate culture, all they are doing is shoring up their command and control environments. This is bad – for profits, for shareholders, for employee satisfaction, for everyone.

I’m going to be talking more about this (and Telstra’s brief banning of Facebook) in my Marketing magazine article.

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Prepping for my Vernor Vinge interview this afternoon by re-reading his classic novella “True Names” which he wrote in 1981 predicting the internet YEARS before Gibson or Stephenson. If you haven’t read it, you should. Here’s a sneak peak but buy yourself a hard copy as well, it’s an incredible piece of work.

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I chatted with a representative from Telstra’s media department today about the Facebook issue. She said that it was a “technical problem” that prevented employees from accessing Facebook last Friday and that the error was resolved later in the day. When I asked for details about the problem, she couldn’t provide any. I asked if it was true that Telstra employees are not allowed to have Instant Messenger at work and she also said she couldn’t confirm that. When I asked what Telstra’s official position is on making Facebook and other internet services available to their employees, she said they don’t ban access to anything but all employees have to abide by their guidelines which means they can only use them as a “business tool” and as part of their job function.

Do you believe the official story?

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5 thoughts on “Cam’s World 31 July 2007

  1. I don’t miss the point. I understand the point very well. Blocking Internet services today is just like blocking personal phone calls in the ’70s.

    Your belief is that an employee should be able to do whatever they want as long as they get their work done.

    While some employees use the work computer for good, many use it for evil or personal reasons. Should I be allowed to book tickets to Tahiti at 10am when I should be in a staff meeting? How much more work could I be doing if I wasn’t chatting with Yolanda about her dog’s virus.

    Do I think blocking any internet service is stupid? Absolutely. It’s a very powerful tool for getting a job done. But is it their right to do so? Yep. And not everyone needs the same level of access.

    We should look at the issue from the company’s perspective sometime instead of just the employee’s. Let’s chat sometime about it 🙂

    I guess as a former auditor for large companies, I look at things with a strict financial bent. But I disagree… I understand your point (and agree with it) very well.

  2. “I know of at least one Melbourne government agency that still blocks instant messenger!”

    um… try Telstra too.

  3. Allen, yes, you should be able to book tickets to Tahiti and talk to Yolanda about her dog’s virus, as long as you get your job done properly, on time and on budget. If being in the 10am staff meeting is part of your job description, and you miss it, then you aren’t fulfilling your responsibilities and should get reprimanded appropriately. Is it Telstra’s right to ban Facebook, IM (thanks for that piece of info Rich) and even, if they wish, personal telephone calls? Yes. Does it make them culturally moronic? Yes.

  4. Hmm let’s see what i can’t access from work.

    Facebook, Last.fm, Pandora, Myspace (who cares), Screencastsonline forums, any site involving gaming of any sort, lots of sites that use flash of any sort, Youtube, Flickr, Meebo, or any IM except gtalk (see below).

    I can access gmail and thus use gtalk through there but need web browser open all day. I also use Twitter the same way but being IE6 I think need seperate windows open so for general browsing during lunch or other times I open yet a 3rd window.

    I work for a NSW government department and it is very annoying. Even a few months back Gtalk wouldn’t work either. I don’t know if they blocke it or it was on Google’s side. It sucks and I try and work around it but I still manage to access Techmeme but some of the linked stories are blocked depending where they are at and The Onion is always good for a laugh during the day.

    I can understanding blocking pornographic, offensive and harmful sites but other stuff like that listed above is just silly.

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