Monthly Archives: January 2012

Brownie points

When asked what possession they would save in the event of a house fire, many people will plump for the family photograph album. Even if there is research on the subject to back up this assertion, I think it likely that the population will divide along generational lines. Just as generations which made do with portraits and landscapes painted onto canvas gave way to photographs on film, so today many people take digital photographs and share them on line and never ever print them off.

I suspect that the owners of Kodak are ruefully aware of this today as I read that the company has filed for Chapter 11 protection from bankruptcy in the US with liabilities exceeding assets by a staggering $1.65 billion. This does not necessarily mean the end of Kodak as a business but it is a sad day when the inventor of that ubiquitous camera, the box Brownie, loses its way so dramatically. Millions of people will remember the Brownie and I am told that even Neil Armstrong took photos on the moon with one.

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The right to be forgotten

Without forgetting it is quite impossible to live at all – Friedrich Nietzsche

Like the rumble of thunder which precedes the storm or the escape of sulphurous gas which heralds a volcanic eruption, it is clear that the EU is up to something.

That something promises to be momentous. Forget the recession/depression, forget the riots on the streets of Athens, forget (if you can) the reelection campaign of President Sarkozy (who has not yet even announced that he is going to stand for another term as President of our favourite neighbour)!

All this is unimportant. The EU is turning its attention to data privacy.

Now I am not for one moment suggesting that what happens to personal data is not rightly of concern, particularly to the person whose data it is. The EU has recognised its importance and on January 25th (Burns Night for those non Scots who need reminding that our northern neighbours will be getting smashed on Wednesday), the EU intends to publish proposals for new data protection rules.

I have not seen the draft proposals but believe that we may see included something along these lines:

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Poetry in motion

No Scotsman I, but I am familiar with the traditions of a Burns Nicht supper and indeed have in the past fallen foul of them. My wife delights in the story of my trying in vain to insert the key to our then London house and complaining bitterly that it did not fit, only to discover that the whisky had blurred my vision to such an extent that I was several doors off beam!

Back to today and I was inspired to think about Burns by an aside from my new colleague John Lapraik. I learned that in the dim and distant past (the 18th century) there was a Scottish poet bearing John’s name who was a friend of Burns’ and who just happens to be John’s something times great grandfather.

However delightful it was to live in Ayrshire and rub shoulders with the rather better known Mr Burns it seems that Lapraik’s books and poems have all but disappeared. I cannot judge whether this is a loss to Scottish literature but no such scruples deterred one James Maxwell. A contemporary of both Burns and Lapraik, and one who did not approve of the latter’s writings, he was moved to comment on their disappearance as follows:

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You tweet (or blog, post and poke) if you want to, but take care!

“Are you on LinkedIn?” asked my companion. I confessed that I was. “Facebook?” Well, not exactly, I replied. “Why not?” my interrogator continued. By this stage I was beginning to wish I had not started the conversation, but I had been keen to establish whether this particular litigation lawyer was into social media because our conversation had been about ways in which lawyers market themselves.

When I was a practising lawyer, I fell into the camp of “being keen on marketing” but I was always a little disappointed with the results of my efforts. Fine, if you really had a triumph to trumpet about and an audience which was interested but otherwise it always seemed to me to be rather false. Perhaps I suffered from (false) modesty, a charge which my lawyer friend threw at me recently and this was how the conversation about social media started.

I have already joined the crowd who make predictions about 2012 and I am certainly not going to go down that route again, but allow me to say that this whole social media lark is becoming all-pervasive. It is virtually impossible to pick up a newspaper these days without seeing a report about some tweet, blog post or story on MySpace or Facebook. And the companies behind the successful sites are worth mega millions as can be seen by the recent LinkedIn float and the ongoing saga about the valuation of Facebook.

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In the groove

When I looked to my right, I saw what can best be described as a white fog sweeping towards me. It had already enveloped the building on the other side of the road before I realised I was going to get very wet. The next instant, it seemed that someone had turned on a fire hydrant and directed it in my direction. I was soaked and only the sight and sound of others fleeing for the station entrance with me, convinced me that it was in fact a serious rain squall.

Coming back to work after an extended break is never easy. At least for me and most others, I suspect this to be true. It does not matter if you love what you do, it still takes time to get back into the groove.

I ended the year on a note of optimism for 2012, something not all commentators managed to achieve. Rain squalls apart, (and this one soon passed), the New Year has started with two pieces of excellent news for Millnet. Continue reading