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Microblogging, Useful Business Tool or Productivity Buster

Dec 14, 20082 mins
Core Java

You may recall a blog entry some months ago about recent studies showing the incredible waste of business productivity resulting from constant interruptions in employee work to review e-mail. Now a new contender for lost productivity champion has appeared on the horizon: microblogging. Supporters argue that employees can continuously update their progress on projects and other matters throughout the day by posting brief (micro) entries on an internal blog. Of course, like 99.9999% of other blogs on the Internet, the likelihood anyone, other than a very select few, will ever review postings is remote at best. The question then arises, couldn’t the same result be obtained by an e-mail, with a predefined project distribution list, achieve the same result, without the investment in implementing yet another technology solution that will likely find little use?  Also, what is the likelihood these blogs will be perused by other employees having no real business purpose in doing so – presenting yet another opportunity for lost productivity. The blog could certainly be configured to permit only relevant employees to review its contents, but that argues in favor of simply using an e-mail to update progress on a project rather than implementing an entirely new technology.

Let’s put aside productivity issues with this type of blogging and consider the other potential issues that may arise. The most obvious issue is whether an employee will post ill-considered messages that may come back to haunt the company in later litigation or create litigation in and of themselves. For example, an employee make postings critical of other staff members or the company’s products, postings identifying potential flaws that could result in litigation, postings that disclose company trade secrets and other proprietary information to a wider audience than is necessary, postings containing information that may be subject to the attorney-client privilege, etc. This is not to say such matters shouldn’t be discussed. Rather, the question is whether a microblog is the proper forum. 

Given the foregoing, I suggest this “latest best thing” should be approached with caution. If a business determines the potential value outweighs the potential loss of productivity and other issues identified above, appropriate employee training and monitoring should be used to minimize potential abuses.


Michael R. Overly is a partner and intellectual property lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP where he focuses on drafting and negotiating technology related agreements, software licenses, hardware acquisition, development, disaster recovery, outsourcing agreements, information security agreements, e-commerce agreements, and technology use policies. He counsels clients in the areas of technology acquisition, information security, electronic commerce, and on-line law.

Mr. Overly is a member of the Technology Transactions & Outsourcing and Privacy, Security & Information Management Practices. Mr. Overly is one of the few practicing lawyers who has satisfied the rigorous requirements necessary to obtain the Certified Information System Auditor (CISA), Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Information Systems Security Management Professional (ISSMP), Certified Risk and Information System Controls (CRISC) and Certified Outsourcing Professional (COP) certifications.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of Michael R. Overly and do not necessarily represent those of IDG Communications, Inc., its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.

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