Heisenberg’s Uncertaintly Principle and PR

Excellent post on Strumpette from Ike Piggot – anyone who can use Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle as a metaphor for what’s happening in social media gets my vote:

Outside observers kill communities in a hurry, regardless of the
transparency of their motives. The only tolerated agenda is pure:
thrash metal fans don’t want Mr. Labelpants from Arista watching over
their shoulder. The Curse of Heisenberg: The act of observing disturbs
the observed. So that leaves us with completely Naked Conversations.
The PR guy now has to be the biggest fan in the forum – the king of the
community – top Twit in the Twitterbin. And then corporate expectation
will be nothing less than maximum influence. That means that only the
rabid fans will have the inside track to be PR representatives. Even
transparent, the lack of Motive Purity changes the dynamic of the

Bottom line: Corporate expectations being what they are, some
degree of control will remain on the agenda. The message might be out
of their hands, but then again it never was firmly in their grasp to
begin with. The illusion of control was a product of a tiny number of
outlets – slits that kept the electron beams somewhat coherent with a
minimum of interference. A few years ago, the slits became close enough
together to blur the results, and now the screen is gone altogether.
We’re all bathing in our own complex streams of radiation, and PR’s
challenge is to create relevance once again.

You can choose to be immersed in the community.
You can choose to be an advocate.
You can choose to be transparent as to your motive.

But you can only pick two of the above, because the communities won’t let you have all three.

Perhaps time to dust off my piece about Godel’s Incompleteness Theorum and PR.

Why should I keep my date of birth a secret? – Bill Thompson

Bill Thompson has a novel take on the whole Facebook/privacy debate:

The complexity of the interaction between online and
offline worlds has been highlighted recently by a spate of warnings
about how we are exposing ourselves on social network sites.

Unruly Oxford students have been tracked down by the
university authorities, a beauty queen in the USA has been blackmailed
over supposedly private photos, and employees have been told that their
employers may own any profiles or contacts lists they create using work

Now Facebook users have been warned of the danger of identify theft that comes from posting personal information on the site.

The problem is apparently that we are all giving away
too much information that should remain secret, like our date of birth,
address and even details of which schools we have attended or where we
have worked.

This information should apparently be carefully
protected because criminals can use it to fill in applications for
credit cards or loans, stealing our identities and causing all sorts of
This seems to be entirely the wrong way around.

I have never kept my birthday secret from my friends,
partly because I like to get cards and presents, and I do not see why I
should have to keep it secret from my online friends. If that means
that other people can find out about it then the systems that assume my
date of birth is somehow ‘secret’ need to adapt, not me.

But when it comes to loans, credit cards and other
financial services it really is up to the banks to adapt to the
networked world, not us.

I do not want to make 6 October, 1960 a secret date.
Nor do I want to have to remember who knows that my mum’s maiden name
was Clubbs or that I went to Southwood Comprehensive School.

In the networked world people can find out these things
about me, and so anyone who wants to verify my identity should realise
that they can no longer rely on them in any way. If they continue to do
so then they should be responsible for the consequences, not me.

And if identity theft is becoming easier because of our
widespread use of the internet then the ways in which identity is
established have to shift to reflect that.

We cannot rely on assumptions that served the Victorians
and limit our use of these new tools just because profit-starved credit
card issuers are unwilling to improve their inadequate procedures.

The problem here is not Facebook, it is the antiquated thinking of lazy companies.


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