Emerging Online Social Communities and Emergency Services in a Connected World

The following was a ‘joke’ abstract I wrote on Facebook (yes I know – get a life), and was inspired by a Queensland Police Service Media posting in relation to a specific incident.

When you are writing a paper I always finds it helps to write the abstract first – at least to clarify the purpose of the paper.  Obviously, you rewrite the abstract later.

This study develops a theoretical model from a comprehensive literature review to identify factors relating to the successful building of online communities. The developed theoretical model is then considered in the important context of emergency services and their extension to the online world. The theoretical model undertakes a secondary data analysis of material published in the public domain by these public service entities in light of the theoretical model. This qualitative analysis is supplemented through consideration of quantitative measures of the success of these communities through espoused key performance indicators such as number of ‘followers’, community engagement (measured as percentage of respondents sharing, liking, and commenting upon announcements), and time to resolution.

The mechanisms of success are explored through the qualitative analysis of the material and depth of comment made through publicly available social media. This study contributes to the practical understanding of public sector emergency services response in an online environment, and furthermore provides a theoretical framework for the consideration and extension of social media effectiveness in the current integrated social world.

Unfortunately QPS delete some of their posts when there is no longer a public benefit arising (e.g. they found someone they specifically named) – which makes getting some of the numbers a little more difficult.

I was reminded of this because of this call for research students at QUT:  http://networkedblogs.com/wvQqn

Feedback from Facebook, MySpace, YouTube & Flickr

Today I received feedback from the presentation I gave back in October 2008 (!) on the presentation ‘Facebook, MySpace, YouTube & Flickr – managing and leveraging the business impact of social networking sites’.

Again going for that whole transparency thing.

Feedback was very good – technical content rating was a 4 (Very Good) and presentation material rating was a 4 (Very Good).

The average is suspiciously round so it makes me think that not many people completed the evaluation, but there you go.

The presentation is available in an earlier post, but here is the slideshare:


Season’s greetings from Micheal Axelsen & applied insight pty ltd

Click here for a full screen version of the eCard.

Just for you, I’ve created my very own Australian-themed Christmas card this year, complete with the Kingswood I had in 1992.  We’d gone on a trip to Northern New South Wales, mis-read a Refidex, and what can I say – apparently Kingswoods aren’t four-wheel drives, but I do like the photo.

applied insight pty ltd specialises in working with clients to deliver significant improvements in the governance, management and development of their business information and data.

applied insight pty ltd’s consulting services are all about using business information better –building good and useful databases, using social networking and online sharing tools for business results, and helping users create and retrieve documents and information more powerfully.

applied insight pty ltd increases the maturity of the client’s enterprise governance of information.

Can employers tell us what we can do in our private, online social networking, lives?

If your employer tells you to ‘stop doing that, you’ll go blind’ online, do you have to stop doing it? 

Short answer:  yes, with a but. 

As I specialise in long answers though – see below.  Caveat – I’m not a lawyer.  This probably misses a ton of stuff cos I’ve shortened it from the original, much longer, draft.  This is just for discussion, comment, and thought provocation at the moment.  It also has far too many Battlestar Galactica references. 

At law it is generally well recognised that employees have several duties of care that they owe to their employer . There are three core duties of an employee to their employer that have a clear link to an employee’s online social networking activities:

  • to work with care and diligence,
  • to obey all lawful and reasonable orders, and
  • to act with good faith and fidelity.

There are essentially two types of employee: a standard employee (on a time-service contract) and a professional or staff employee (on a task-performance contract) . Professional and staff employees, and especially those employees with client-facing roles, are generally held to a higher standard, particularly where their actions may tarnish the employer’s image.

The employee has a positive duty to be efficient, and to avoid negligence in carrying out the work. In the context of online social networking, an employee might breach this duty where their use of such tools affected their efficiency (for example, through cyberslacking) or using a social networking tool in an inappropriate way (for example, to store client material or to carry on client conversations).

An employee must also obey the ‘lawful and reasonable’ orders of their employer, taking all reasonable steps to carry out the tasks promised under the contract of employment. Criminal acts outside of the workplace may prevent the employee from carrying out their duties, and thus breach this duty. So if you joined an illegal OSN, or advocated criminal behaviour in an OSN (use your imagination but it probably involves terrorism, nazis, or pavlova) it might be difficult to keep doing your fracking job (sorry – Battlestar Galactica reference).

It is likely though that the activity would need to be very much at odds with the employee’s role for summary dismissal or discipline to be justified.

Employees do have a duty to act with good faith and fidelity (see especially Blyth Chemicals Ltd v Bushnell 1933 ). Employees must not act in a manner that is in conflict with the interests of their employer.

As part of this duty of good faith and fidelity, the employee must not disclose information where disclosure of such private information (for example, profits and losses, customers, methods and techniques, etc) might help a competitor. It is likely, for instance, that posting a blog topic about business strategy, or the file notes from an internal meeting, would breach the duty. The duty operates to limit the employee’s ability to comment upon the business of the employer.

I was flabbergasted to find though that in the Cockatoo Docks Case (1946) it was found that an employer was justified in summarily dismissing an employee who wrote an article in a Labor Party newspaper that was critical of his employer. Try that one on today! Although it is not likely that this decision would be followed today, there are clear parallels to be drawn with online social networking activities.

The biggest issue for bloggers and Facebookers everywhere? Tarnishing corporate image.

For this duty to be beached there generally needs to be a relevant link with the employer such as a uniform. In Rose v Telstra Corporation 1998 it was acknowledged that employers ‘do not have an unfettered right to sit in judgment on the out of work behaviour of their employees. An employee is entitled to a private life.’

In the context of online social networking, presumably this connection would exist where the employee discloses the name of their current employer, or where the individual is in a senior client-facing role so as to be likely to be identified from their profile by a customer or prospective customer.

Some employers use things such as AWA’s etc to prevent, for example, a mining company employer stopping an employee joining a group that is protesting the mining company’s actions.

As a general principle, employers seeking to rely upon this power of control must set out their expectations very clearly, and ensure that the employee has consented to such contractual terms and that the expectations have been brought to the employee’s notice. In particular, the duty that an employee owes to act in good faith and with fidelity operates so that the employee should not ‘tarnish the business’s image’. The business’s expectations of its employees however must be very clear if the employer seeks to control their employees’ actions in private.

Personally I’m coming to the view that if it’s your private blog or Facebook, keep your employer’s name out of it – it’ll be sweeter for all that way.

Image from Flickr User Akbar SimonseSome Rights Reserved.

IT Audit Methodologies

Isn’t it interesting?  Well, maybe not quite as much as, say, online social networking, but my PhD requires an investigation into the impact that the adoption of IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) means for IT audit processes within Australian firms.  I naturally assumed that ‘IT audit processes’ would be, you know, focused on those IT audit processes that are especially related to IT audit.

But I ask practitioners in the field and they consider it merely as an ‘audit’ – i.e. a standard audit methodology.

Hmmm.  This may be an issue.

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