A thought provoking Tweet from Kenan Malik pointed me to a great article in Philosophy Now from Emrys Westacott, “Does Surveillance Make Us Morally Better?”, or as Kenan put it, “Should God have placed CCTV cameras in the Garden of Eden?”.
The article looks at systems of control that prevent transgression (speed cameras and the like) and asks if they make us better people or not. The rum idea is that by choosing not to do wrong, we might be better than simply not being able to do wrong (at least not able without the certainty of a a resounding thwak on the metaphysical or corporeal buttocks).
This made me think of all those discussions of social media governance at work and whether one should or should not be able to chat with friends and enemies on FaceBook, Twitter or LinkedIn while at work. It also ties in with the ability for an intranet to effectively monitor our every keystroke. Systems like Autonomy for example, have the potential to monitor all an employee types while logged in (at least so my boss tells me) and send off an e-mail to HR, the minute you type ‘CV’…
The article does raise, and I think answer the question of what sort of people we want at work – ones monitored all day long, clocking in and clocking out all their actions and chained to the cyber keyboard or their corporate duties. Or, do we want ones who exercise choice and responsibilities; ones who are judged and rewarded on what they deliver, rather than how many rules they obey?
Social Media Guidelines at Work Policy
In light of this, I think the best Social Media Guidelines at Work policy could be whittled down to a commandment of almost Biblical simplicity:
“Thou shalt not take the piss.”
And what I mean by this is simple. Do not restrict access. Trust the employees. But those employees in being given this trust, should not abuse it. I think this is fair and honest.