The Weekly Round-Up: 19.02.10

Posting too much info online?
Written by The Round-Up, Contributor

Posting too much info online?

We live in a digital age: an age of ones and zeroes swirling in wireless eddies around us, creating communication, enterprise, friendship and love, as well as the ability to waste time looking at funny pictures of cats. Look - he's wearing a hat!

Of course, there's a flip side to everything, and for every jolly status update posted to show your wit and wisdom, there's the risk that you are spilling personal information like a leaky digital sieve.

A new website warns of the dangers of posting too much information about yourself online - in particular, information about where you are (or are not). PleaseRobMe.com uses information posted on Twitter by players of the online game Foursquare to warn the unwary, by showing how much information they are giving away - especially when they announce to the world they have just left their home.

As the site says: "So here we are; on one end we're leaving lights on when we're going on a holiday, and on the other we're telling everybody on the internet we're not home."

The developers have stressed the site was not developed to encourage crime but to highlight the dangers of being too free with personal information online.

They have a point. And how far could this go? Does this mean that insurance claims of the future could be rejected because the claimant effectively 'left the keys to the house in the door' as a result of revealing too much location-based information online?

Despite our ongoing love affair with social media we still have a deep and abiding love for email. One that seems to be verging on obsession.

According to a mobile messaging survey by Neverfail, our compulsion to stay connected and keep abreast of communications is starting to overwhelm us.

Furthermore, this dangerous obsession is driving employees to risky and inappropriate behaviour.

Consider the stats: compared to last year, an 'astounding' 95 per cent of employees check email outside of work hours. OK, so this isn't really astounding, given that email isn't just about work and it's not as if we have anything better to do.

But three-quarters of respondents admitted to texting while driving (that was the aforementioned "risky", not to mention plain idiotic). And just under four out of five admitted to checking messages in the bathroom (that's the "inappropriate"), which the Round-Up would suggest should surely be applauded as an excellent way of maintaining productivity during down time. Just make sure you don't drop your phone. And wash your hands, too.

However, a further 11 per cent admitted to checking for emails during an "intimate moment".

Which brings new meaning to the phrase 'pushing all the right buttons'.

And the catalogue of email addiction continues: Almost half of us admit to travelling up to 10 miles just to check email during a holiday. Madness. A third admit to hiding from friends and family in order to check email on holiday. Insanity.

What drives this compulsion? What compels us to keep our fingers on the pulse of corporate communication? Fear, of course. The fear of missing out, being out of the loop.

Increasingly, life unfolds through email. The survey respondents reported receiving the following news through a mobile device: job offers (45 per cent), job losses (six per cent) and family births (70 per cent).

Emails have usurped both Cupid as the bearer of love (10 per cent received news of marriage proposals) and over the patron saint of broken hearts as the bearer of bad news (six per cent received requests for break-up or divorce through their inbox).

Heaven only knows the role that animated emoticons played in these scenarios.

Given all the wireless ones and zeroes swirling around, what is it that compels a human being to press Control and P all the time and commit the glorious electronic age to paper? Pure bloody mindedness and pig ignorance, that's what.

According to content management association AIIM, office staff are loath to give up paper copies of information, despite the wide availability of scanners and document management systems.

AIIM's survey, found that 62 per cent of important paper documents are still archived as paper. Even when documents are sent off for archive scanning, 25 per cent are photocopied beforehand "just in case". Less than a third of the paper originals are systematically destroyed after scanning. This despite the fact that the legal admissibility of scanned paper documents has been established for nearly 20 years and is nailed down in legislation and standards around the world.

The paperless office is a bit like the cashless society. It's always next year. Or the year after. It's all about status, you see. Having huge wobbling piles of paper on your desk marks you out to be a high status manager, not an office drone who can safely be shifted to a hot desk. You need your space.

Your tower of papers is your anchor, a reflection of your importance to the organisation and a handy place for the office mice to nest during the winter.

Also, large piles of paper are useful as a barrier when you need to hide from the boss. And so until they find out a digital way to do all these things, the paperless office is still a long way off.

The Round-Up will return next week. In the meantime, for goodness sake, just have some news:

BBC readies some iPhone app goodness.

Bring it on! Apple versus the Rest of the World.

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