Monthly Archives: May 2003

Reading IT’s mind

Reading IT’s mind – News.com
While the media may highlight the IT exploits of world-class companies like Wal-Mart and FedEx, in order to understand the current position of the technology sector, it may be more instructive to look at what’s happening in “middle America.” After all, the “bleeding edge” developments at high-profile companies are “about as relevant to the IT masses as NBA superstars are to the multitudes of wannabe pro hoopsters.” Using off-the-shelf technology, many companies are able to take advantage of operational efficiencies, minimize downtime, increase storage utilization rates, and improve overall business performance. Moreover, many of the “gotta haves” touted by IT vendors may be too complex, too unwieldy and simply too expensive for the standard company. The bottom line: tech executives need to be “realistic” about how to deliver “superior IT services to their companies.” [Via Corante e-business]

Virtual Teams and Trust

Virtual Teams and Trust. Stanford Business Magazine has an interesting article on managing virtual teams, detailing both advantages and disadvantages:

“Task conflict,” Neale says, “is the conflict of ideas or controversy. And this is exactly the kind of conflict that is absolutely essential. It's the type of conflict we want to create and encourage in teams because it gets people to share their ideas. The battle of ideas occurs, and something better comes through the interaction?or else we wouldn't even have the team there.”

So the task of managers is to ensure that conflict about ideas doesn't turn into what Neale calls a “relationship clash.” Not surprisingly, she says, “virtual teams have a much more difficult time distinguishing the conflict of ideas in their virtual environment from the conflict of personal relationships.”

[Corante: Social Software]

WASTE

WASTE looks to be quite interesting.  It's great to see more people working to  crank up the level of confidentiality on the Internet.  I don't think people have any concept of how much sniffing is actually occurring out there, and how easy it has become since the explosion of WiFi.  This is why I've been so passionate about building deep, complacency-immune security into Groove from day one.  We really need to encourage efforts like this to increase confidentiality at both the middleware and at the application level.

But people seem to be wondering why WASTE has gone dark.  Could it possibly be that the Nullsoft and AOL guys don't want to go to jail??  This is serious business.

When I downloaded it and looked at the license, I saw a bunch of GPL legalese but I didn't see anything about export restrictions.  But last I checked, encryption software still requires an export license, as it has for as long as I've been in this business.  It's surely gotten easier, but there's still one mechanism for exporting (posting) crypto source code, and another mechanism for applying for a license if your product uses encryption e.g. for confidentiality.  You can't just set up a download site (or mirror site) as you can with other kinds of software.  Even if and after you qualify for a very broad e.g. “mass market” or “retail” license, you must make diligent efforts to block download/distribution to places like Cuba, Syria, Libya, Iran, North Korea, Sudan.  And if you know who you're downloading to (e.g. through site or product registration) you must check to see if they're on a list of known terrorists. [Ray Ozzie's Weblog]

Joshua Allen

Joshua Allen makes some really great points about the fact that many companies to have a “don't ask, don't tell, and please for the love of God don't do anything stupid” attitude related to blogs.  There is actually good reason for this:  By suggesting that employee blogs might be “officially sanctioned”, or by in some way acknowledging that the corporation benefits from the blog, the company is arguably exposing itself to claims that it is contributorily and/or vicariously liable for any injuries the employee-bloggers cause. 

By providing the employee resources and active support related to blogs, if the blogger is ultimately sued for libel, the plaintiff may very well claim that the corporation is also liable … not a totally specious position.  It makes sense to me that Sam keeps his blog separate, and it has been fascinating to watch Microsoft either explicitly or tacitly permitting the company's direct hosting of so many employee blogs.

I'd love to know their official position on these issues, since they clearly have an extremely talented legal staff that could provide leadership in this dimension.  I am surely not a lawyer .. just an employer and (personally) a blogger.  I've only been pondering this since fall of 2001, with my corporate legal, communications, and HR staff, trying to do what seems prudent within my own organization, understanding that employees will indeed blog, yet also trying to keep a line drawn between their actvities and the company's.  It'll be quite interesting over time to see how our legal system ultimately sorts this out. [Ray Ozzie's Weblog]

Add Your Thoughts to Martindale-Hubbell Discussion

Add Your Thoughts to Martindale-Hubbell Discussion. I'll be adding a comments feature as soon as I move this blog to a better web server. In the meantime I've started a separate discussion group to facilitate comments on the future of lawyer directories, including Martindale-Hubbell. I'll incorporate the more cogent comments into an essay I'm drafting on the subject. Thanks to John DeBruyn, founder of Network-Lawyers, for tipping me off months ago to the easy-to-use Quick Topic service. [net.law.blog]