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Archive for November 14th, 2007

Managers Are Invading The Workers’ Social Spaces

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 14 November 2007

Which of the following reports is true:

A recent report has shown that workers at many organisations are concerned about being ‘befriended’ by their mangers – who then have access to their Facebook details. “I was sacked“, said one anonymous ex-worker at a large organisation “for arriving late at work. It was due to transport problems. But my manager spotted that I’d been out drinking the previous night, and had updated my Facebook status when I got back from the night club. He used this as the reason for sacking me. I had been out with my mates – what’s wrong with that? But I would have arrived at work on time if the bus wasn’t late.

The director of the CBI expressed concerns that workers had been ‘befriending’ their managers on the Facebook social network. “It would be churlish to refuse a request to be a friend of someone who works for me” said one manager. “But I hadn’t realised that he would see my status which said I had been out of the office playing golf one afternoon. He doesn’t seem to realise that business deals with our clients is often done on the golf course. This has undermined my credibility.

Facebook vampireTeacher attacks students in online satanic ritual” reports our education correspondent. “I introduced the children to Facebook as part of their Information Literacy course” Ms X. told us, close to tears. “We started off poking each other, and then moving on to tickling and hugging. Then someone installed the Vampire application and bit me. I, of course, responded in the same way. And now I’ve been suspended“. The head teacher informed us that, following complaints from the parents of one of the children affected by the incident, he had no alternative but to suspend the teacher (34), who cannot be named for legal reasons “We have zero-tolerance to cyber-bullying at this school.” (Note that we have published a photograph of Ms X’s vampire, but have removed the name of the victim).

Get out of MySpace screams a headline in the Guardian, an extreme liberal British newspaper (which had been the focus of vehement attacks during the last US election for its misguided attempts to undermine a democratically held election by a seditious media organisation based in a foreign country). The article goes on to say “a research exercise carried out by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), called the Learner Experience Project, has just revealed, amazingly, that students want to be left alone. Their message to the trendy academics is: ‘Get out of MySpace!’

The Get out of MySpace! post on the Kinda Learning Stuff blog cited the last example and commented that “there needs to be an increasing degree of contextual sensitivity by users and a subtlety in their development / use before they become really effective“.

Tony Hirst’s post on Helping Students Make More of Facebook Without Stealing Control describes the software development activities he has been involved in which attempts to exploit the benefits of Facebook, whilst avoiding ‘stealing control’.

As the Kinda Learning Stuff blog suggests, Tony’s approaches to software development needs to be complemented by addressing issues such as information literacy, user education, negotiations and discussions and the development of acceptable patterns of behaviour in our online social spaces. And we need to realise that the potential tensions between students and staff and not peculiar to the educational community, but will be reflected in any social grouping in which there are hierarchical and power relationships.

We need to have a much more sophisticated response to the cry to “Get out of MySpace” – whether this comes from the workers, the bosses, the students or, indeed, the academics – than abandoning these social spaces or setting up alternative social spaces without any guarantee that these will be successful.

Posted in Facebook, Social Networking | 5 Comments »