Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Incomplete thoughts: Are you walking the dog or is the dog walking you?

As I sit toweled and shivering on my bed post-shower, the first thing that pops up on my RSS reader is this: Memo Passed On; Job Is Lost - New York Times and I immediately know it's one of two things, some White House business (unlikely) or the Andrew Krucoff firing from Condé Nast.

It's too bad the article is super short because there are a bunch of issues to focus on. At the risk of getting all Arianna Huffington, the first thing that comes to mind is the power of the blogs, specifically its ability to report what the traditional media cannot, would refuse to, or simply would not think to. Now, this is a subject that's been beaten to death, especially in the run up to November 2004, but that debate focused entirely on political blogs and the separation of the internet into left and right. And I don't remember single posts, rather than a series of posts or a trend, being the story.

Which gets me to my second thought - so we've gotten to the point where the media is reporting on a blog that reports about the media, have we? It's really an amusing cycle of life - a reporter trolls the blogs for story ideas, the blog will inevitably report on the story, the newspaper will follow up, and so on and so on. The key here, I guess, that the media recognizes the influence that blogs have, and stories that get "Most Emailed" and "Most Read" status are probably getting linked on Gawker or Media Matters.

And it's obvious that Condé Nast takes the 'sphere seriously. Though they're so caught in their old way of thinking that they mismanage the situation, coming off looking like jackasses every step of the way. The memo in questions was as innocuous as a memo could be, yet CN went to the trouble of searching the contents of its employee emails to uncover the leak - that must make Conde Nasties feel comfortable. The spokeswoman insists AK wasn't fired, but merely "told... that his services were no longer required". Yet, as the article was pointed out, he was escorted out of the building, Corporate America's equivalent of dead man walking.

Then there's that privacy and non-disclosure thing. If we're going by the letter of the law, yeah, if you forward an internal document to someone outside the company, you're violating the confidentiality agreement you signed (and AK presumably did) when you were first hired. I've signed a few of those too, not that they've ever stopped me from, say, talking shop with my art director in the elevator or anything. It's really a Gawker complex, isn't it? Surely AK wasn't the only person to tell an outsider that the office internet was down. Perhaps he's paying the price for all past and future Condé Nastie leaks? Um, I'm going to stop before I start making Jesus comparisons.

Finally, there's that pesky privacy issue. Sure, I know the company line - you're on company time, using the company equipment on the company server. Still, there is some expectation of privacy, isn't there? If emails can be read for something so harmless, wouldn't it make just as much sense to record water cooler conversations?

(And Gmail isn't always an option - last night, I was talking with a friend whose employer has blocked all web-based emails. The policy is ostensibly to cut down on personal use of the computer but I suggested to her that maybe it's to make tracking employee communications easier by narrowing their options.)

Oh, I don't know. But I've been typing for way too long (did I actually spend 30 minutes writing this shit? Yes, yes I did), I'm hungry and I need to put some clothes on.

  • Rosa Parks rides the big bus to the sky. R.I.P.

  • You probably missed last night's Death Cab Conert in DC like I did.

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