E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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The Sweettt Podcast – Episode 12 – Sources of Quality

Over the course of the last few months a bunch of folks have been asking us why The Sweettt Podcast, that weekly podcasting tertulia I used to co-host with my good friend, and fellow colleague, Matt Simpson, went into a dormant status and whether we would be picking things up again any time soon. So in the last few months we have been revisiting the opportunity to re-vive the podcast and after a few conversations here and there, we are very pleased to announce that The Sweettt Podcast is back!

Yes, that’s right! It’s been nearly a year ago since we published the last episode and during that period of absence both Matt and myself have been getting together on and off to check whether we would be ready to come back to it or not. And after a few conversations we have been having, we decided that we are just benefiting far too much from that dialogue, so we decided to re-vamp the show and get back to it, after the rather long hiatus, on a weekly basis, although perhaps with a few changes we hope folks would appreciate as well.

I am sure, at this point in time, if you were a regular listener of the podcast, you may be wondering what were the topics we discussed on our welcome back, right? Well, not going to reveal much of it for now, since you can start listening to (Or downloading) the podcast right away from here, but I will certainly share with you some of the highlights of what we tried to cover over the course of 1 hour 48 minutes:

  1. Flaming excuses for not posting our discussions for the past year (bonus – clean the inside of your computer screen!)
  2. The iPad experience, and what it takes to achieve quality (bonus – a cartoon!)
  3. Web Filtering – pros, cons, goods, and evils
  4. Employee happiness as a source of quality and productivity
  5. And then… Luis turns into a Robot

As you may have noticed, we touched base on a whole bunch of topics going from some flaming excuses as to why it took us so long to come back, along with explaining a little bit the new format of the podcasting series; then we talked about some of the various different reasons as to why I can’t wait to get my hands on an 3G iPad to, finally, be able to ditch both my 3G iPhone and iPod Touch (Diving into what user experiences with mobile gadgets should be like, or would be like very very soon! </stop drooling>).

From there onwards we touched base on some pretty interesting topics we keep hearing, or reading about, out there on the Internet around Social Computing and how some businesses are starting (If not fully on board by now!) to introduce Web Filtering. We covered the pros, the cons, the good, the bad and the ugly of filtering or blocking content for knowledge Web workers and, eventually, we started off a conversation on what employee happiness means and whether the motto "Happy People Produce Quality" (From the first project team I was part of when I started working for my current employer IBM over 13 years ago) would still stand in today’s corporate reality or whether we should be focusing on something else.

Some pretty interesting conversations that would take most of the actual podcasting episode, till the very last few minutes, when my Skype connection decided to play funny and make me become an automaton, a robot, which is funny, because that’s the main conclusion I have reached over the years on the main dangers behind Web Filtering. Oh the irony of technology some times … !!

So we stopped recording at that point and I am sure we would be covering that very important topic, once again, in the near future. For now though we thought it was a good welcome back! and we are surely looking forward to the next one! Like I said, you would be able to listen to the episode directly from this link, or download it for later playback with this other link. Alternatively, if you are using an .MP3 mobile device you would be able to subscribe to our iTunes podcasting series link and grab that and other future podcasting episodes.

We hope you will enjoy The Sweettt Podcast, just as much as we do when we record the episode(s) live! And, remember, if you would want to participate in any of these episodes feel free to reach out and get in touch with Matt or with yours truly. We do certainly treasure having guests in our tertulias and we hope to see you soon again!

(Gosh, it’s *good* to be back! It’s been far too long …)

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  1. I just finished listening to the latest podcast and was struck by a couple of things:

    I think there is a conflict between the desire to have the employees use whatever tools are at hand to accomplish their job and the fact that many of those tools (especially the public “social networking” ones) are *designed* to subvert the user’s trust.

    It seems to me that even if the employer and the employee have a good trust relationship, there is no reason to *assume* that the relationship extends to the trust network established by the other party. In general this is not a problem because we are individualy “in control” of our own trust networks and can decide who sees what. However, much of the new technology subverts this trust [and must do so because of the way the service is funded] to collect and distribute information to unknown 3rd parties [i.e., advertisers].

    If I were an employer, my rationale for managing the tools my employees use to do their job would be a risk analysis of trusting, not the employee, but the 3rd parties that the employee has (possibly unkowingly) included in his trust network. I can;t recall specific examples, but I’m sure I recall incidents in the past of companies being embarassed/compromised by information made public by social networking tools.

    I think that there needs to be some work done on the tools and technology that employees use to maintain their networks so that they *can* be used in a business context without fear of inadvertent compromise of the employee/employer trust relationship. [Maybe a pay-for-service model that provides enhanced privacy controls over the “free” version?]

    I think that the “lock-down” of the employee’s computing device [i.e., PC] to some employer standard is driven more by a desire to protect the employee population at large rather than a control motivation.

    The problem with letting people configure their own IT resources is that most devices are, in fact, too complex for most employees to manage correctly. There is, unfortunately, a disconnect between the simplicity of use presented by the manufacturer of the device and the actual underlying complexity. Add to this the fact that in a networked environment a device that is improperly maintained can end up compromising many many more devices when it is connected to the employers network.

    The employee who manages his own PC needs to realize [training?] that if his device is compromised, he may be responsible for the compromise of his co-workers devices as well. If everyone involved has a clear understanding of the risks I think it’s fine, but it’s *not* just a case of “I’ll look after my own PC, and if it breaks (or is maliciously broken) it’s only my problem.”. One compromised device and compromise an entire organization in the connected environment that we all work in.

    I guess my general feeling is that I’m in favour of building a strong employee/employer trust relationship, but that trust needs to be based on ability. Not all employees have [nor should we expect them to have] the ability to manage an IT device or the complex privacy rules of a service that actively seeks to extract private information from them. Perhaps there needs to be some sort of “test period” where the employee can demonstrate his ability and earn the employer’s trust?

    be seeing you … Don

    P.S., I really enjoyed the podcast … very thought provoking.

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