Tag Archives: twitter

What are Twitter thinking? #Twitter #stupid #phishing

I am SERIOUSLY unimpressed by Twitter.

I guess a lot of us have been sending out Direct Messages about having more satisfying sex for longer, and those of us with half a brain have been changing our passwords.

But this email from Twitter is unforgivable:

Twits at Twitter

Moronic email from Twitter

The text reads:

Hey there.

Due to concern that your account may have been compromised in a phishing attack that took place off-Twitter, your password was reset. Please create a new password by opening this link in your browser:

This will reset your password.

This is stupid because it encourages people to trust unsolicited emails which ask them to click on a link.  Phishing emails in fact.  Yes, let’s train people to trust links in unsolicited emails which aren’t addressed to them personally. That would be cool.


This is in fact so blindingly moronic that I cannot bring myself to explain how blindingly moronic it is.  I don’t want to ruin my entire weekend with the rage I’d generate in myself.

Of course if I really want to get my point out there, I should tweet it.

How will the corporation subvert Web 2.0?

Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom

Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom

It’s an exciting idea, the way that Web 2.0 will transform the world of work, making collaboration the norm by providing wikis, bosses opening up dialogues by posting blogs that are open for comments, replacing meetings with discussion boards.

But before we get to that nirvana, we will have to live with the worrying answers to the question ‘how will the corporation subvert Web 2.0’

In the long term the Luddites always lose. In the long term the organisations which embrace Web 2.o will over-take those which resist it, just as Amazon has flooded out the bookshops and iTunes and Spotify have all but destroyed the the record companies.

What worries me, is the nature of that embrace.

Web 2.0, briefly, comprises the tools and attitudes that enable me to blog and enable you to rate my post and comment on it.  It’s FaceBook and Twitter and citizen journalism and mash-ups and crowd-sourcing and ‘Here comes everybody’.  It’s MySpace instead of A&R  It’s Wikipedia instead of the Brittanica. It’s Twitter instead of… well… instead of no Twitter. Web 2.0, so we all thought, is a force for democracy and good.  It cuts out the parasitical middle-person, it empowers individuals and enables them to form groups and enables those groups to face down corporations and governments.  It puts artists directly in touch with their audience. It enables me to publish this and you to read it with no more cost than our time. It turns base metal into gold and chocolate into a slimming aid.

There are, it seems, two current views of what happens when Web 2.0 meets the Enterprise.  In the first view, Web 2.0 brings about innovative, hierarchically flat organisations where knowledge is freely shared, where anyone who comes up with a bright idea can get it aired and taken up, where discussion boards pwn meetings and where gatekeepers and barriers to innovation are no more.  Google is reported to be just such a place.  The other view is that Web 2.0 and the enterprise are oil and water:  executives and managers will resist Web 2.0 either because they don’t get it, because they think it is a distraction, or because they are just plain running scared.

But I am not convinced by either.  Web 2.0, combined with an internal search engine, are powerful surveillance tools.  Any well-governed Wiki will tell you exactly who made which changes when, and far more neatly than you can track the changes in Word.   You can capture Instant Messenger logs and run searches on them in a way which you cannot tape and search conversations by the water cooler.  Nobody minutes meetings any more, but a discussion forum can be there for as long and the server farm lasts and longer.

Web 2.0 facilitates networks and interactions, but it also makes them more visible, and therefore easier to track.  We already know that the web is destroying privacy.  These days it takes diligence, vigilance and consistency to hide in cyberspace.  It is hard not have your name published by other people when school mates tag you on photos in FaceBook.

So it is surprising that hierarchical organisations don’t espouse Web 2.0 tools more actively, and this supports the theory that this is because execs and managers just don’t get it.

As something of a Web 2.0 evangelist, that places me on the horns of a dilemma.  A trilemma, actually. Do I:

  1. promote Web 2.o tools because they empower people and democratise knowledge
  2. stop promoting Web 2.0 tools because they expose people by turning situations which they are used to considering private into permanent searchable records or
  3. use the argument that they can improve audit and accountability in order to get them into an organisation because they are just so flippin’ COOOL?

For some of the thinking that led me to this impasse see:
Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom – Matthew Fraser & Soumitra Dutta

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I guess you gotta be here

It’s pretty easy to understand Web 2.0 intellectually, but to really get it, you’ve gotta be there.  Here.  All sorts of things get missed when decisions are based on assumptions that are intellectual constructs, not built out of practice and experience. We know this already: there is a strong difference between hospitals directed by clinicians even when their administrators are professional managers, and those  hospitals directed by administrators or – even worse – by management consultants who are neither managers nor consultants.

Years ago I had a smug boyfriend who said to me

To know and not to act is not to know

It is apparently a Chinese proverb.

In the years since then I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve dealt with who understand the words used to discuss Web 2.0, but whose lives have not been affected by it.  No harm in that – I understand the words used to describe meditation, but I don’t meditate.  Each to our own, and all that.

The harm comes when these people make decisions about the use of Web 2.0. An example that is a few years old now, is the story of La Petite Anglaise, who was an Englishwoman working for the Pasis office of a boring and stuffy accountancy firm. Her employers fired her for bringing them into disrepute (hard, since her blog was anonymous), and that really DID bring them into disrepute.  They understood it, but they didn’t get it because they didn’t use it.

But blogging is so 2005, darlink.  The two more recent examples both come from the Twitterverse: the first is the story of Trafigura, and is summed up superbly by Colm, where the attempts to gag the Guardian turned out not to be a case of locking the stable door after the horse had bolted, so much as opening the  stable door and shooing a  self-replicating herd of wild mustangs out of the stable-yard and then announcing you’ve done so in great flashing neon lights which spooks the mustangs even more.  And the second is the 25,000 complaints to the Press Complaints Commission as a result of Jan Moir’s venomously homophobic article about Stephen Gately.  (Hetronormativity  – the acceptable face of homophobia).  In both cases people who should certainly have heard of Twitter fell foul of something they don’t understand because they don’t use it.

The place where this matters is where people are taking decisions about technology that they don’t use.  You can go to as many conferences you like and talk about people tweeting their comments from their mobiles, but unless you use it, you won’t get it.  You’ve gotta be in it to win it.

In fairness, while there’s a lot I do get about Web 2.0, there is stuff that I don’t get. I took a deliberate decision not to get involved in Second Life and I’m ambivalent about whether or not I regret it.  I also don’t yet get Twitter.  I use it, but I don’t yet get it.  Other than Colm’s excellent commentary about Twitter the other day, the most informative thing I’ve come across was in a Word Podcast.  (I like the Word Podcast – it’s conversational dad-dancing, conducted with a complacent lack of self-awareness which always brightens my day).

The “what will you give me for a box of flood-damaged Roogalator albums?” podcast

At minute 38 (if you care to listen) they start talking about Twitter, and at minute 44 or thereabouts they discuss the way in which Twitter is now the first place to go for news.  News: the new Olds .  Or possibly Google: the new Print Media.

What’s the take-away from this piece?  Just that in the words of Bob Dylan, “Don’t criticize what you can’t understand”.   And because you can’t beat a bit of Bob, here’s a clip,  and because it’s 2009 it’s from The Watchmen.

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