Talking About Work

I’m on the last of my three days working as a NOC Technician at my employer’s data center. My normal day job is as Manager of Technical Support, which is normally performed at a seperate office. I’m covering a few data center shifts as something of a cultural exchange, and to help cover some transient staffing requirements. The data center is fun because we have security measures all over the place — just to take a poop I have to pass through a biometric security checkpoint.

My employer provides me with a T-mobile Sidekick, which is fun because I can IRC while I poop. There are those who think that this is wildly inappropriate, but they are weenies. Anyway, as I was pooping just now, I checked my e-mail, and was passed a link titled “Shitcanned from Friendster for Blogging.”

“It is especially ironic because Friendster, of course, is a company that is all about getting people to reveal information about themselves …”

I’ve been revealing myself on the Internet for years now, and, through trial and error, I have come up with some standards as to when I am saying too much. For example, I mostly avoid naming names, and when I do, it is usually first-name only, and even at that, I tend to use aliases. Yayoi, Janet, Duncan and Jefe? Who could these people be? If you know me, you can make a reasonable guess, but if you know me, I’d happily tell you anyway.

Ditto employers. I do work with a guy named Dennis. I’ll admit that is his real name, but you don’t know that it is. I don’t name the company. I don’t name the data center. And I don’t say much about how we operate. That I have to pass a biometric security checkpoint to take a poop at the data center is hardly novel.

But, I don’t take pains to hide this information, either. You can glean a few specific details about the names and operating environments of my present and past employers by visiting my resumé.

It is a compromise. People and companies mostly feel responsible for their own representation on the Internet. Companies should publish their own policies as to how they prefer to handle such matters, but the rule of thumb is that there is probably somebody else whose job it is to talk about your company, and you shouldn’t do their job without cooperating with them. If I were to say “my employer is changing their back-end scripting language” then I am in a position where I am taking it upon myself to present potentially sensitive corporate information. In that case, I would get someone to sign off on what I was publishing before I released that information. For example, this script contains the “Tellme Open Source License.”

CYA: Cover Your Ass

That said, I hope this “Troutgirl” received some sort of warning before she was “shitcanned” … it is an honest mistake to step on someone’s toes, and unless you have other reasons to terminate an employee, you don’t throw somebody from the company because they talk too much.

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Categories: Technology

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