Selectively removing cookies to resolve Office 365 authentication issues

This content is 11 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

Every now and again, Office 365 decides that it doesn’t recognise my credentials and won’t let me log on. Well, not from a my normal web browser anyway. Everything works on my iDevices, my Windows Phone, even in a a protected browser session (e.g. Google Chrome’s incognito browsing), but not from my “normal” browser, with handy password management extension…

Because it works in a protected browser session, I was pretty sure the problem is related to cookies but removing them all is a bit of a sledgehammer to crack a nut.  Instead, I delete individual cookies by going to chrome://settings/cookies and search for the cookies.  After removing these, I can log on successfully for a few weeks until the next time Office 365 decides it can’t authenticate me…

Searching Active Directory with PowerShell and a user’s phone number

This content is 11 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

I have a guilty secret: I screen my incoming phone calls. I no longer answer blocked numbers on my work phone – it’s always PPI spam – and I recognise the numbers of those I work closely with, so I can prioritise my response (i.e. do I want to be interrupted by that person, or can I respond to voicemail later?). To be honest, it’s just the same with email – some people will get an immediate response, others will need more thought and I’ll respond when I have more time (or not, in some cases). Is it unprofessional? I don’t think so – it’s about time management.

Recently, I had a missed call on my mobile from a number I didn’t recognise. I could see it was internal (all of our mobile phones have the same first few digits) so I thought I’d search the Global Address List in Outlook. Unfortunately though, Outlook doesn’t let me search the GAL on phone numbers…

I could have just called them back (actually, I did!) but the geek in me had the bit between the teeth… could I script up some kind of reverse lookup for phone numbers? And, in true Barack Obama (or Bob the Builder if you’re on this side of the Atlantic) style, the answer turns out to be:

“Yes, we can!”

So, if you use a Windows PC and you like scripting, read on. If you don’t, probably best just call the number back and see who answers!

Getting ready to query Active Directory with PowerShell

The first hurdle was that, in order to query Active Directory from PowerShell, I needed to have the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) component installed on my Windows 7 workstation in order to do this, but it’s actually a two-step installation process.

  1. Firstly, download and install the RSATs to the workstation.
  2. In Control Panel, Programs, Programs and Features, Turn Windows features on or off, make sure that the Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell is available under Role Administration Tools, AD DS and AD LDS Tools.

Once the RSATs were installed and the Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell was enabled, I could fire up Windows PowerShell and issue the command to load the Active Directory management cmdlets:

Import-Module ActiveDirectory

Finding the available attributes to search against

Next up, I needed to know which properties are available for an Active Directory User object. I used my own email address as a filter to Get-User, which retrieved the details for the given AD User object, then selected all properties and piped the resulting output into Get-Member (which gets the properties and methods of objects):

Get-ADUser -Filter {EmailAddress -like ""} -Properties * |
Get-Member -MemberType property

Building up confidence, I started to play around and query individual attributes for the selected object:

$user = Get-ADUser -Filter {EmailAddress -like ""} -Properties *

I found that each of these returned the information I would expect for my own user account in Active Directory.

Constructing the query

The next step was to search the whole directory but this time to filter the properties returned and to pipe through Where-Object to match certain criteria, then pipe the resulting output from that query into a table:

Get-AdUser -Filter * -Properties OfficePhone |
Where-Object {$_.UserPrincipalName -match "Wilson"} |
Format-Table OfficePhone,UserPrincipalName

This returns the office phone number for everyone whose user name contains the string Wilson.  That tested the principle but was not the query I was trying to create, so I edited the query to match a number against a number of phone number properties (making sure that all the properties that need to be displayed are in the filter) and also prompted for the search string, storing it in a variable:

$Search = Read-Host 'What number would you like to search for?'
Get-AdUser -Filter * -Properties OfficePhone,MobilePhone,TelephoneNumber |
Where-Object {$_.OfficePhone -match $Search -or $_.MobilePhone -match
$Search -or $_.TelephoneNumber -match $Search} |
Format-Table GivenName,Surname,OfficePhone,MobilePhone,TelephoneNumber

This time, the resulting output was exactly what I was after – a single entry matching the partial phone number I’d asked it to match (824753 in the example below):

GivenName  Surname  OfficePhone  MobilePhone    TelephoneNumber
---------  -------  -----------  -----------    ---------------
Mark       Wilson   73824753     +447xxx824753  73824753

Finally, I wrapped the whole thing up in a script and, as long as I’ve done the usual Set-ExecutionPolicy remotesigned stuff, I can perform reverse lookups on phone numbers to my heart’s content… now, if only I could have an iPhone app to do this for me when the calls come in…

Stuck in the wrong App Store with iOS 6

This content is 11 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

Account Not in This Store Your account is not valid for use in the U.S. store. You must switch to the U.K. store before purchasing. Earlier this evening, I tried to download an app that’s only available in the US App Store. iOS helpfully redirected me, where the store said my account was no use to it…

But, after that, I seemed to be stuck in the States with an account that doesn’t work in the US store and a load of apps that need to be updated from the UK App Store.

This Apple ID is only valid for purchased in the UK iTunes Store. You will be switched to that Store.But there is a fix. It seems it’s a problem in iOS 6 (has there ever been a release of iOS as problematic as this? Or is it just that the major bugs in iOS 6 have been related to ActiveSync and have all affected me*).

There is a fix though – as described by Apurva Tripathi, the resolution is to switch to the Featured tab, then scroll down to the bottom of the page. Click on your Apple ID  and select Sign Out. Then sign back in to be redirected to the correct store.  Reading around on the ‘net suggests this is not just a UK/US thing – it could affect users in various geographies.

*because Apple stuff “Just Works”

Embedding Windows Media in a SharePoint website

This content is 11 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

A few weeks ago, I found myself standing in front of a green screen in a meeting room that had been “converted” into a temporary film studio, recording a video for internal communication on the technology standardisation initiatives I’ve been running for the last few months.  After all the edits and final approvals, the videos are now coming online and, as “Chief SharePoint Officer” for our team (I jest), it was up to me to hack our portal and get them online.

I figured that the guys in our internal studio must have done this before and, sure enough, the advice I received was to use JWPlayer for Flash content or to embed a media player for Windows Media files. We went with Windows Media (I can play the WMVs offline too), so I used a method described on Stack Overflow to embed an object inside a SharePoint Content Editor Web Part.

I’m sure that there are alternatives that provide better cross-browser support but as this is a SharePoint 2007 website, the only browser that will be used is some variant of Internet Exploder (and our corporate browser is Internet Explorer 8) so not too much to worry about.

I needed just one slight variation.  The videos I used were 480×270 pixels so, with the controls, I needed the player to be slightly taller. Playing around until I had no black bars around the video got me to the following code:

A full-quality download of this video is also available.

What do Aston Martin, design, learning styles and digital storytelling have in common? (#MSRN)

This content is 11 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

Every now and again, I get invited to a fantastic event and, earlier this week, I found myself at a former school (now a “creativity and innovation space”), on one of Britain’s first council estates, in Shoreditch, East London, home of our very own “silicon roundabout”, to discuss research, disruption, invention and innovation.

If time permitted, I could write a dozen blog posts based on the discussions at Microsoft’s Research Now event. Unfortunately, the highlights are all I can deliver right now, but there were many of them…

The art of design

Aston Martin Parking OnlyFirst up, Head of Design at Aston Martin, Marek Reichman (@Design_Dr) gave a fantastic presentation on the iconic brand’s approach to design. Living, as I do, just a few miles from Aston Martin’s spiritual home in Newport Pagnell, I may be a little biased but there are few brands that stir the imagination as much as seven-times bankrupted Aston Martin – which is partly why they have been the coolest brand in the UK for five out of six years (the anomoly being the year that Apple temporarily took the top spot, since reclaimed for 2012/13 with YouTube in second place and Aston Martin in third).

The company’s new headquarters is a modern version of a castle in the middle of England, built from local stone, in a circular shape, with a moat, a drawbridge and narrow windows and signifies how design is integral to the culture of Aston Martin. Even so, Aston’s design studio (the company’s first in house studio, created in 2007) is a separate building with 6m tall windows, joined to the main complex with a glass corridor – an ivory tower in which to design, with transparency so others can see in.

I won’t continue to reproduce Marek’s presentation – I just can’t do it justice – so here are just a few choice words: power; beauty; soul; cool; exclusivity; luxury; creativity; and craftsmanship.

“Coolness” is something that one cannot claim – it has to be bestowed – but Marek Reichman describes it as stylish, innovative, original, authentic, desirable, unique. That’s a great set of adjectives that, for me, perfectly describe Aston Martin.

Design from the boardroom to the shop floor

With the unenviable job of following Marek Reichman’s keynote, Chief Design Officer at the Design Council, Mat Hunter (@mat_hunter) started out by commenting on the relationship between job titles and confidence, mocking has own grand title in comparison to Marek’s understated “Head of Design”. Mat’s presentation was no less engaging as he took us on a journey with:

  • A logistics company that’s seen improved revenues since they started to better communicate what they do through branding and graphic communications.
  • A discussion of form and function with the kettle evolving from a stove-top model to an electric kettle, one with an automatic off switch, to a cordless model, to a stylish model.
  • Disruption through changing meanings – why do we need a kettle? Why not simply have a tap that dispenses hot water for a cup of tea? Or how about the wrist watch, with Swiss craftsmanship commoditised by cheap Japanese digital timepieces, only to be usurped once more by Swatch, who took analogue technology and made it a fashion item? In another example, Streetcar (which became Zipcar and is now owned by Avis) proved that, in some markets, people want access to a car, not necessarily to own one. Then there are concepts like The Amazings – for people to try something old and learn something new.
  • Looking at innovation, Mat described the “double diamond” design process where we use the left side to redefine the brief before finding new solutions to a problem. Examples include: the Mailbox app which is aiming for a a clean mailbox and using a queuing system to manage demand [only time will tell how successful that is – I’ve lost interest already]; Casserole Club which uses the social web to connect people and provide peer to peer “meals on wheels”; The Matter which gives young people work experience and drives a better quality of output by involving them in local planning and decision-making; and even the Government Digital Service, aiming to transform the way in which the UK government provides online services with a set of human-centred design principles, integration, board-level leadership (and recruiting the best people).

Design-led transformation and innovation

In the next slot, Microsoft Consultants Fred Warren and Phillip Joe spoke about why and how to innovate using design. I really need to take another look at the slide deck to properly understand what was presented as we jumped from anecdotes such as Virgin Atlantic’s redefinition of transatlantic flight by “reframing the experience” in Upper Class, getting travellers from A to B (not Heathrow to JFK) and removing friction points to Pine and Gilmore’s Experience Economy and on to customer experience evolution but I got the impression Fred’s part of the presentation (the “why?”) could be summed up as “step back and look at the problem from a different angle” – and “don’t die hesitating”.

Phillip spoke about the “how?” with four themes of orchestration (guide the vision), envisioning (explore scenarios and define visual and textual narratives), empathy (understand what users want), and execution (take the vision and make it real – which parts of the narrative will be built out).

To be perfectly honest, this was the session that I didn’t really get. Maybe I was tired. Or maybe the previous presenters had given me so much food for thought my brain needed time to adjust… but the basic premise is sound: finding out what the problems are, rather than offering solutions right away (although isn’t that just what consultants do?).

Organisational DNA

This slot was the surprise for me. A real gem. Strategic People and Organisation Development Consultant, Elizabeth Greetham gave a talk on getting an organisation culture aligned for innovation. The concepts that Elizabeth visited are not new, but it’s good to re-visit them.

Honey and Mumford’s learning styles are a cycle of learning by doing (activists, jumping in at the deep end), reflecting (think and observe), theorising (through models) and trying out (pragmatists, starting in a safe environment). Often we skip the reflection, eradicating the time to think creatively, which in turn stifles innovation.  Meanwhile activist-pragmatists skip the theory, which can be valuable to re-engage with from time to time.

Moving on to perception and memory processing, Elizabeth spoke of four learning strategies:

  • Visual (pictures, written word).
  • Auditory (spoken word).
  • Kinaesthetic (actions and movement).
  • Tactile (touch).

Whilst visual and auditory learning are well understood (e.g. leading to success of PowerPoint) kinaesthetic learning is about doing, reaching, feeling. Restricting people to one screen limits this – the movement is important (mind maps can help). So does hot-desking – some people need their own space. The implications of touch are still being explored and, whilst it’s discouraged in the workplace there are some benefits that have been discovered through work with autistic children.

On cognitive styles, Elizabeth described two types:

  • Verbal-imagery: words vs. pictures (not everyone’s brain creates images – sometimes they need to be provided)
  • Wholist-analytic: global vs. components (some people need the big picture and to know what comes before and after their part vs. individual widgets in detail); another way to look at this is breadth first vs. depth first.

The psychological contract is about the perceptions between an employer and an employee about their obligations to one another – more than just a written contract of employment. Promises are often made or implied, e.g. during recruitment, in appraisals, at a social event, when travelling together – and we shouldn’t make promises that are not in our gift to deliver.

Elizabeth then spoke of the sixteen Myers-Briggs personality types, before highlighting that intimacy is key to success – for every person in an organisation, someone else needs to know what makes them tick. Organisations need a structure that supports this; small working groups enable people to get to know one another much better.

In summary, “well it’s how we do things around here” is made up of people, how they learn, the psychological contract status, and personality factors. And that, is the organisational DNA.

Design in the digital physical world

In his presentation, Principal Interaction Designer at Microsoft Research, Richard Banks (@rbanks) explained some of the ideas he’s been working on for digital storytelling. His team’s ethnographic work is a combination of social science, computer science and interaction design; they look at people, see how they work, spot anecdotes about life – and spark ideas for things that can be designed. Specifically, Richard talked about the theme of the future of looking back: creating new value from reflecting on the past.

For example, on inheriting his late grandfather’s box of photos, Richard discovered they had been recorded with “metadata” (names written on the back). But with most of  us creating thousands of digital images each year, that’s a lot to pass on when our time comes.

Technology has moved past the point where it’s a play thing, it’s now an integral part of our lives and we need to deal with death on social media too. We all have boxes of sentimental objects that we don’t keep on display. The question is whether digital artefacts be sentimental too? To take another example, old diaries provide an insight into others’ lives – even if the points recorded seem mundane at the time. May be our tweets will be the same some day?

Richard showed pictures of physical items created to store digital artifacts, such as:

  • A box to backup your tweets.
  • A digital slide viewer which backs up Flickr images into a box that looks like an old Boots slide viewer.
  • A digital photo display focused on one individual containing events throughout their life structured on a timeline [à la Facebook] providing the context for where things fit.

Another interesting angle is the motivation behind digital storytelling, perhaps just creating a record for a sense of permanence – not necessarily interesting now but it may be later. And then there are the new possibilities afforded by digital media – such as putting two people into a picture that could have been together, but were not (e.g. a grandfather and grandson when one had passed away before the other was born). I’m currently taking something in the region of 10-12,000 pictures a year and I have hundreds of slides in the loft inherited from my late Father. It’s high time I took a good look at my own digital curation and storytelling…

Envisioning the future

Microsoft Chief Envisioning Officer, Dave Coplin (@dcoplin) gave the final talk before the inevitable panel session to wrap-up the day. I’ve blogged about Dave’s talks before – fast paced and highly entertaining. The twist this time around was to ask the question “What can you change in your business that you do because you’ve always done it?”. See the big picture. Avoid the arrogance of the present. Look for outcomes, not process. Set your people and your data free. Fundamentally, think human, be human. And empower others.


It’s been a while since I attended a Microsoft event that was as thought-provoking as this one. Most of the company’s output is pure marketing but this was a refreshing change; enabling others to lead the conversation, facilitating discussion, and leading thoughts without the distraction of a product pitch.  For this reason alone, congratulations are due to the Microsoft UK Enterprise Insights team (@MicrosoftEntUK), who hosted the day. Add in the first-class speaker line-up and it was well worth it.

As for takeaways, well, I’ve written many of them in this post but, whilst design is not at the core of my work, it can help me to think about things differently and the organisational DNA talk has given me plenty to consider as I plan for building my own team inside the organisation where I work.

How to be a CEO, in 10 minutes

This content is 11 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselvesRecently, I was listening to a CEO give a fantastic explanation of his job (described as “how to be a CEO in about 10 minutes – some free of charge advice”). Of course, it’s a massive over-simplification* but, fundamentally, this is what business is about.  I’ve left out all of the juicy metrics – they were confidential – and I’m not naming the CEO either but I thought it would be interesting to share the basics, particularly if, like me, you have no formal business qualifications…

If you run a company – it’s a good idea to have a strategy. Often, that strategy boils down to three things:

  1. Run the company properly
  2. Grow the company
  3. Prepare for the future

Whilst all three principles need to be applied, 1. needs to be in place before you can focus on 2. and 3., so let’s look at “running the company properly”.

There are three important metrics to consider:

  • Gross margin
  • Operating expenditure
  • Operating profit

We’re all in business to make money (or generate value in another form – which generally involves raising funds along the way). Gross margin is about customers allowing companies to charge more for a product or a service than it actually costs to create because the company adds value. The amount of margin that customers will allow depends on the types of products or services that are sold – and some products rely on high volume sales with low margins, whilst others are highly profitable in themselves because they attract a premium price (e.g. if they are in short supply).  Even if you don’t know what the margins are, it’s pretty easy to see which companies are charging a premium and which are not.

So that’s gross margin.  The next thing to consider is operating expenditure (OpEx).  This is the overhead of running a company: premises, people, etc.  Reducing OpEx is about reducing overheads – and if you want to know if you are an overhead, consider whether your presence in the workplace has a direct impact on customers.  If it doesn’t, then you’re an overhead…

You can’t run a company with zero OpEx, but it needs to be appropriate and under control.

Gross Margin minus OpEx equals operating profit – and I said earlier that, generally, we are in business to make a profit.

Now, profit is all well and good, but companies need cash in order to function – and a company’s cashflow is vital in order to be able to buy materials (to create products and services) and to allocate money for capital expenditure (CapEx) like new equipment and other investments in growing the company (e.g. acquisitions).  Just like a current account, negative cashflow is not necessarily a problem, as long as the company can be recapitalised (e.g. by its shareholders), or borrow money from a financial services institution (e.g. an overdraft, or a loan).  At some point the intention is such that the incoming revenues are sufficient and the margin/OpEx healthy enough that profits grow and cashflow turns positive. At that point, a company can return value to its shareholders, or invest for the future.

So that’s how to run a company, with a little bit of growth in the mix too (principles like the service-profit chain can help too, linking profitability, customer loyalty, employee satisfaction and loyalty and productivity). With the basics in place and a good team on board, planning for the future is about vision – recognising upcoming challenges and finding new opportunities (maybe even some disruptive innovation).


* At least, I imagine it is – I’ve never been a CEO and don’t expect I will be in the near future either!

Photo Credit: Mukumbura via Compfight (licensed under Creative Commons).

Technology standardisation – creating consistency in solution architecture

This content is 11 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

One of the things about my current role is that I can’t really blog much about what I do at work – it’s mostly not suitable for sharing outside the company.  That’s why I was pleased when my manager suggested I create a white paper outlining the technology standardisation approach that Fujitsu takes in the UK and Ireland. That is, in a nutshell, what I’ve been working to establish for the last year.

The problem is that, without careful control, the inherent complexity of integrating products and services from a variety of sources can be challenging and costly. Solution architects and designers are trained to create innovative solutions to problems but, all too often, those solutions involve bespoke elements or unproven technologies that increase risk and drive up the cost of delivery. At the same time, there are pressures to reduce costs whilst maintaining business benefit – pressures that run completely contrary to the idea of bespoke systems designed to meet each and every customer’s needs. Part of the answer lies in standardisation – or, as I like to think of it, creating consistency in solution architecture.

My technology standardisation paper was published last month and can be found on the Fujitsu UK website.

I’ll be moving on to something new in a short while (watch this space and I’m sure I’ll be able to talk about it soon), so it’s great to look back and say “that’s what I’ve been doing”.

Social media and the law (#socmedlaw)

This content is 11 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

Courtroom One GavelA couple of weeks ago, I received an invitation to a lunchtime round-table event, to chat about social media and the law. “What’s not to like?”, I thought, and a few days later I was enjoying the delights of good company in an Italian restaurant in London’s Covent Garden (and wishing I hadn’t driven to the station that morning – more vino please!). Well, what’s not to like indeed – a couple of hours flew by and I could quite happy have whiled away another couple, had I not needed to get back to the office…

So, social media and the law. Really? Is that such a big deal?

In a word, yes!

You see, whilst we’re all enthusing about sharing our lives online and building digital relationships, there are some for whom that’s a little too risky.  I’m not talking about over-sharing personal details here – exposing oneself to undesirable physical world impacts from digital world slip-ups – but about negatively impacting one’s employment as companies struggle to get their heads around a world where relationships are formed online as well as in the traditional methods. Indeed, even the round-table where we were discussing these issues was run under the “Chatham House rule” – precisely so that participants could speak openly and freely, without fear of the consequences of reporting what they said (reporting is fine, attribution is strictly off limits).

Starting the conversation with concerns about employees tweeting, there are a whole load of considerations, from issues of authenticity to accidentally committing an organisation to a contract. Some organisations maintain lists of approved social media users but what happens when an over-enthusiastic employee defends your brand using their personal account and crosses a line?

Ultimately, companies are trying to protect their reputation online and limit their liability in the digital space, just as they do in the physical world. But there’s no “one size fits all” solution: some brands may be “free and open”, others more “locked down” and it’s increasingly important to create policies for acceptable use of social media. The issue is that these policies need to be kept up to date, and need to reflect the real world. For example, an organisation might forbid its employees to affiliate themselves with a brand online. That’s OK on Twitter, Facebook, etc. but what about their online CV on LinkedIn? For all of my disclaimers absolving my employer of any views and opinions I express online (disclaimers that were, incidentally, triggered by an unclear social media policy), it’s still pretty easy to find who pays my salary and to establish a link between my personal views and a brand. Thankfully, I’m told, there is a legal distinction between a social media account used for work purposes and affiliation of a personal account to a company or brand.

Unfortunately, until “social” is embedded in our organisational DNA, there will be issues – and the legal minefield around developments in the way we use technology is not exclusively limited to social media.  Take recent legislation on the use of “cookies” for example, described at the event as “stupid laws by stupid people, made for the wrong generation”.

It’s important to recognise that much of the movement into social seen by companies today is out of compulsion rather than quantified need – organisations need to consider what’s right for their brand. And what if social media isn’t purely a marketing tool, but about relationships? Enlightened companies are accepting that employees are increasingly linked online but it’s still important to “think and use your brain”. Microsoft’s blogging policy is often quoted as “blog smart” – it’s actually two pages that boil down to “don’t be stupid”. The important element is being careful not to make forward facing statements on behalf of the company and monitoring takes place to control any breaches (inadvertent or otherwise).

Ultimately, employee behaviour is hard to control. Generally, there is no malicious intent. As employers we need to explain the consequences of actions but educating people is difficult.

Then there’s the issue of what happens when an employee leaves a company. There are high-profile cases of influential tweeters taking their followers to a new organisation, or of companies claiming that a LinkedIn profile belongs to them.  Many companies are only to happy to benefit from relationships (and skills) when staff are recruited but try to protect these assets when they move on – maybe a future legal case will clarify the situation, with a sensible judge telling companies that they can’t “have their cake and eat it” (one can hope).

Even in the most sales-focused organisations, handing over an address book is one thing but relationships are individual (people transact with people)… perhaps it’s the relatively new nature of social platforms that means the rules of engagement are still settling down?

There’s an argument that assets gained on company time belong to the company, but what exactly is company time? In our increasingly connected society, there’s a fine balance between an employment contract, bringing chores/devices to work and working extended hours outside the office. When do we stop being employees and start being individuals again? For many of us, there is no more 9 to 5!

A couple more points that I liked were: that corporate use of social media is not really about openness but about translucency; and that we have years of history with employees talking to customers – in shops! The difference now is the online evidence trail.

Some consider that the damage any one individual can cause online is limited anyway, that the Internet is “filling up”, with user-generated content increasingly buried in search results by bland, corporate results (which may be authoritative but make it hard to find any real information on making things work). On the other hand, if patent trolling is a valid business model (which it appears to be), what about copyright trolls, or social media offence trolls?

That brought us nicely onto copyright, which evolved because society saw creative endeavours that needed to be protected. But the nature and scope of copyright is that it can only exist where society respects and enforces the rules. That means that copyright does need to evolve, especially here in the UK, where there is no concept of “fair use”.

In summary, there are a lot of worries about social media and the law but nobody is really over concerned – we know that laws will change (eventually) – but there will be intervening years where the implications exercise the minds of everyone from board members downwards and only common sense can drive us through. That means that monitoring is required: companies can’t engage in social media unless they’re prepared to monitor and to be intelligent about what they find.

Highlight of #SocMedLaw - "stupid laws for stupid things, made by the wrong generation" eg: Cookie Law. Who agrees?... 100%
Abigail Harrison


So, what was the biggest lesson for me? Actually, it was nothing to do with the law. I found that taking comprehensive notes whilst tweeting and eating lunch is difficult!

Thanks to Social Safe for sponsoring the event and to Abigail Harrison (@AbigailH) for making it happen.

Photo Credit: Joe Gratz via Compfight (licensed under Creative Commons)