Monday, May 24, 2010

Information and consequences


I don’t want to sound like I don’t care about privacy (heck, I wrote “Privacy Nation”), but I am struck about the recent spate of articles regarding Facebook and MySpace. As a business model they have created amazing SOCIAL NETWORKING sites to allow people to SOCIAL NETWORK and PURPOSEFULLY share personal and business information to connect and advance a new way of interacting. One rub is that some technical “glitches” have caused personal chats to be exposed to the world. No doubt a problem. Another rub is that business policy (with privacy policy in the background) behind the social networking sites advance a default which is to “expose” information not “hide” it. So, in the end, I guess the sites are working (but not without hiccups). There are ways to lock your information down. Maybe they could be better. There are privacy policies that seem to reflect an “opt out” mentality for information sharing rather than allow all users to make all decisions about what each viewer can see or not and thus “opt in” with respect to sharing information. It is good when technology advances the economy. It is also good when new ways of communicating promotes better communication for business and personal reasons. All new technologies applied to business problems are information and consequences - but these(but for pure technology and security failure)seem intended. Buyers Beware. Are You kidding me.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Wipe it Clean!

My memory started out shaky and has gotten worse as I have gotten older. When I coach my son’s baseball team and have a brain stutter prohibiting immediate recall of a kid’s name, I rely on work-arounds like “Let’s go CHIEF”. Not necessary when it comes to electronic devices of all kinds. Just about every electronic device has memory and some devices have full blown hard drives allowing recall of tons of stuff. There was a recent CBS investigative report of the sale of used copiers. I rarely am surprised but when I saw the kinds of information retrievable from a used copier in just minutes, I was stupefied. Bottom line, when getting rid of not just computers, not just PDAs, but any electronic device you need to wipe it clean before you expose yourself.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Mistakenly" grabbing data?

A German agency is in the process of conducting an investigation of the privacy practices of Google. In the context of the investigation, the governmental agency asked Google about its Wi-Fi data storing practices. Long story short, what came out is that when Google sends vans around the world to map streets and locations, it was also “mistakenly” grabbing website traffic and usage from users that was available through unprotected Wi-Fi connections.

Far be it from me to question Google, but its structured technology grabbed the usage data mistakenly? Ouch, that is one major engineering glitch. The Wall Street Journal article covering the story quotes Google on the mistake—“ It’s now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data . . . We are profoundly sorry for this error and are determined to learn all the lessons we can from our mistake.”

Well, I am a big fan of learning lessons and this one gives American business a black eye in Europe well beyond Google. Information flows. Information stores. Information transmits. I like Google, don’t get me wrong, but when in Rome do as the Romans do. And when doing business in Europe or anywhere for that matter, respect their laws about information because information matters.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

2009 NARA Records Management Report

On April 19, 2010 NARA sent its assessment report to Congress regarding how Federal Agencies in 2009 were doing at managing records. Nearly 90% of the Agencies responded to the assessment. I am wondering why the other 10% didn’t-but whatever. I am also wondering why they are just getting around to making the findings public for a study done in 2009-but whatever. What was really terrific was the results that indicate that 79% of agencies are either at “high” or “moderate” risk of improperly destroying records. Brilliant.

Are you kidding me?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Thank Goodness for Records.

Sing the following to the Madonna song “Material Girl”--“I am living in a glitchy world and I am a glitchy boy”. The more the world changes, the more it stays the same.

This week it was reported that a Facebook software flaw allows others to see your private instant messages. That’s a Facebookery problem of major magnitude.
Yesterday the market inexplicably tumbled on a “trading glitch” taking 1000 points off the DOW for a time. Certain stocks like Accenture went down 100% in a short time. Imagine buying or selling during that period of time. That’s some serious Wall Street IT shenanigans.

The government is investigating an insurer for improper rate increases due to a “math error”. Thank goodness they have records so we can verify if they made an adding error. That’s some seriously bad mathematics.

R U kidding me

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

All business happens through email.

For years I have been saying that email is the transmission vehicle or conduit through which all business happens. Getting rid of the entire contents of the email system because of fear of the “smoking gun” message is like “throwing the baby out with the bath water”. Well I know now that indeed email is the vehicle through which ALL business happens. Take for example, the May 3 Wall Street Journal story entitled “Pope to Overhaul Legion of Christ”, a story about a Catholic organization with a “military-like culture, which led its members to maintain a code of secrecy in the face of sexual abuse committed by its late founder…” In the story, it states, “in an email (emphasis added)responding to an interview request, Luis Garza, the Legion’s No. 2 official, said ‘For the moment, we will have to wait a bit to have the context and full knowledge of everything.” Are You kidding me, everyone uses email for everything.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Letter to Wall Street Journal

Dear Sue,

Loved your Best of the Juggle in the April 29 Wall Street Journal.

Years ago I wrote “Email Rules” which made clear that we need to refrain from “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. Email allows us to be “faster, better, cheaper” in doing all forms of communicating. In commerce, it is the medium through which all business happens. Sure there is abuse and overuse, but in the end it allowed the fabulous “Fab” do his job around the world in an instant. If he was careless in his writing and/or memorialized information that hurts him and his employer then so be it. Email is not the problem. Don’t blame the messenger for your stupidity.

Best regards,

Randy Kahn

Monday, May 3, 2010

Records tell the story.

Coal mining is dangerous. In fact it is one of the most dangerous jobs out there. That is why compliance is a big deal in mining. That is why laws tend to be rather prescriptive in mining. That is why good records management is a must in mining. But we will come back to that shortly.

So a couple guys die in a mine a while ago. I guess it’s part of the hazards of the job. For the family it is an overwhelming tragedy that they will never forget. And it’s good that mine companies retain records because that way we know when they are doing what they’re supposed to. So the president of the company that was subject to one of the most horrific accidents in mining history—remember the one on April 6 that killed 29 American miners, a memo from him seems relevant to the accident. Now I might be taking it out of context or misinterpreting it but seems interesting. According to the Wall Street Journal Article covering the story, among other things, the memo states “If any of you have been asked by your group presidents, your supervisors, engineers, or anyone else to do anything other than run coal (i.e. build overcasts, do construction jobs, or whatever) you need to ignore them and run coal”

Given that attitude it is shocking there was yet another mine accident killing 29 people. Are You Kidding me?