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It’s l8tr than u think: living with social media

The latest outcries about social media – certainly not the first, and undoubtedly not the last – are about threats of violence to women in the wake of Jane Austen being selected to appear on £10 notes (it would be interesting to poll those posting the threats to ask them if they can name the people appearing on the tenners currently in their pockets, as I suspect Jane Austen may not be their true grievance with the world) and cyber-bullying. In the wake of the most recent revelations of what can only be called despicable – and as Tech Radar reminds us – illegal behaviour, there is inevitably a sense that Something Must Be Done.

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Where values meet economics – a field in Wiltshire

Wherever and whenever we interact with others – as colleagues, suppliers or customers, or even as parent and child – our values provide scope for conflict. Depending on the arena in question, the meaning we give to the word ‘transaction’ can vary (although in its broadest sense of ‘dealings’, it’s not necessary that currency changes hands), but the interplay of values and commerce provides the most fertile soil for problems to rise like weeds.

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We’re not all bad, we’re just coded that way

Algorithms nowadays do more than determining which books, DVDs, CDs or whatever you might want at Amazon. While that’s always amusing for me, given my catholic tastes (and no, I don’t like Johnny Cash, but thanks for keeping on suggesting him), it’s more puzzling when it decides that my partner – who recently bought a tent – must now want several more. We’re not planning on building a tented city anywhere, but Amazon’s algorithms struggle with the difference between wants and needs, no matter how many books about Maslow’s Heirarchy their parent site may sell.

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I am, therefore I text …

It’s called Jevons Paradox: the more efficient and easy we make something, the more we do it. It was originally applied to coal use (in Jevons’ 1865 book The Coal Question which observed that “It is a confusion of ideas to suppose that the economical use of fuel is equivalent to diminished consumption. The very contrary is the truth."), but it can be applied more widely. Adding lanes to motorways increases congestion rather than reducing it: getting there by motorway becomes so ‘easy’ for everyone that we all do it. And then it’s harder for everyone. While we can just accept that an inconvenience is often no more than a convenience we have over-used, there is a more radical challenge: using business process re-engineering to make some things just that little bad harder to do. We can’t predict where life – or work – will lead us, but an over-used convenience sounds like a destination to avoid.

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Book review: Alone Together by Sherry Turkle

Are you getting your five a day? No, not fruit & veg. Not even superfruits. Emails. That little red light lighting up on your crac … sorry, BlackBerry to help you feel needed, wanted, useful: after all, if you’re on call 24/7, you’re somebody, right? Having been totally absorbed for the last few days, using both thumbs to navigate my way through Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together, I’m wondering if the question isn’t actually how much of a somebody you might be becoming, and what your Blackberry says about you – and your relationship not so much with technology, but with the rest of humanity.

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Q&A with Steve Knight: Internal Comms and the State of the Nation

Steve Knight is a journalist, editor and consultant who has been at the forefront of the internal communication sector for more than 20 years. He has edited the Institute of Internal Communications (IoIC) magazine for the last decade and trained hundreds of IC professionals. He is also one of the people responsible for creating and launching the IoIC Foundation and Advanced Level accreditation programmes, both of which are administered by his company, Knight Train & Consult Ltd. We interviewed Steve after an evening of lively, informed and often humorous and provocative conversations at the recent Workworld Media Awards, taking the occasion to explore a range of internal communications issue with an experienced and dedicated professional - you'll find his responses to our questions below.

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1st Rule of Work: Don’t let your boss know that you hate your job

Unfortunately, the good ol’ days of being able to bad mouth your employers online are over. And whilst being fired for doing so may merit media attention for the moment, that’s only because social media is still in its formative years. Boundaries are being defined and as a result people are finding themselves caught out by regulations that they either weren’t aware of, or that simply weren’t there before. In a few years time, being fired for behaving inappropriately online will seem as reasonable as being fired for turning up to work in your underwear.

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