Wednesday, 24 June 2009


BBC News today reports that Habitat have got into hot water by mis-using a hashtag on Twitter. By adding #iranelections to their tweets, it meant that anyone searching for #iranelections saw their promotional message. At least, that's what it meant if someone searched for #iranelections in the fraction of a second after the message was posted - given the sheer volume of tweets currently using this tag, it would've been lost in the fog immediately. Net result: miniscule chance of benefit, but high likelihood that someone actually following the account would be offended.

All of which immediately puts me in mind of Hanlon's Razor:
Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
Chances are, someone relatively new to Twitter, and presumably quite junior, figured they'd found a way to game the system, and hadn't thought through the consequences. Maybe they read one of the vile guides explaining how to game Twitter? If Habitat are criticized for anything, it should be that they (or their agency) are using people for this task who don't understand the social web. You need only look at the list of people they follow - currently 4 people - to see this was the case.

We've reached the stage now where job descriptions need to include a requirement for people to demonstrate they've participated in social networks for long enough to understand the social nuances at play. I think Habitat will recover quickly from this unfortunate incident, but we can anticipate similar transgressions elsewhere.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Make this the last tube strike

London's tube drivers are on strike (again), holding the entire city to ransom (again). The answer seems obvious to me:

1) Fire them all
2) Offer to re-hire on near identical terms, minus any union affiliation
3) High profile training scheme to make up the shortfall

Actually there wouldn't be much of a shortfall. Very few tube drivers could afford not to accept the offer to re-hire, not in this economy. And there'd be no shortage of people willing to accept the offer of training and work. In fact it's precisely because of the state of the economy that makes the timing of this scheme perfect.

As a Londoner, I'd be happy to put up with a few months with the service at 80-90%, if it means we get no more strikes in the long term.

I imagine there'd be financial repercussions for firing people en masse. Maybe problems with pension schemes, etc. But it would actually be a very small group you'd have to worry about (those who didn't re-hire). And there are no shortage of articles shouting about how much money the city loses each time there's a strike.

And this could revitalise Gordon Brown's career. Could give Boris Johnson a lot of support. I don't support either politician, I'm just saying there is political capital to be gained. The tube drivers have little or no support outside their union.

So, what am I missing?