Minority report

By | 15th March 2011

I am now in a minority in my own country! Some people would say I have been heading that way for some time! However, it is now official.

If you are a fan of Tom Cruise, or possibly Samantha Morton, you will remember the 2002 film, Minority Report, where, in the future, criminals are caught before they can commit their crimes. One of the officers in the special crime unit is accused of a crime and sets out to prove his innocence.

What nonsense, you may think but I never said I was going to write something serious all the time!

But how about this?

There are approximately 61.8 million people in the UK. The Government hopes that we will know the exact figure after this month’s census, about which I have said quite enough already  [see The face that launched a thousand quips 8th Feb, 2011] but although they plan to spend £500 million of our money on the project I very much doubt that they will get the right answers.

But no, I am being serious. I am in a minority. According to recent press reports, more than 30 million Facebook accounts have been set up in the UK. Joanna Shields is the boss of Facebook UK and she says that London uses Facebook more than any other city in Britain. What is truly astonishing is that Facebook users spend an average of two and a half hours on the site EVERY DAY compared to only two hours watching the telly. Worse still, 24.46% of the British public spend between three and four hours a day on the site.

I was about to get all pompous about this until my colleague Naj Bueno pointed out that in setting up the Millnet Facebook page she had set one up for for me too! Phew! That’s alright then! Not in a minority after all. You will have gathered, however, that as I did not know I had a page until reminded, I naturally bring down the averages as I spend no time on Facebook, although perhaps I should start using it as I am told that there are two smart tagged photos of me posted by others. Perhaps you can have a look and tell me what they are like! My mentor has promised to show me but as yet I still await her tutorial.

In actual fact, I am not against this sort of thing. In fact I am rather a fan as long as it does not get out of hand. A site where people can exchange information and make plans, or look at each others’ photos, is harmless enough. The internet makes this all so easy. Where I become nervous is about the amount of information people are happy for others to see and the nature of that information on occasions. I remember my children pleading with me NOT to open an account, presumably because they would be embarrassed about what I posted on the page. They need not fear. I do not propose to go down that route (at least for the time being).

Mind you, they are pretty horrified that I blog and even more so that I tweet but that is another matter altogether.!

There has been a debate about blogging in the pages of Legal Week recently. I have to confess I thought that was rather a silly question until I read the blog article by Ben Wheway [Blogging – can it help your legal career? Legal Week, 21st Feb, 2011 and reproduced in print on p15 of Legal Week, 3rd March 2011].  Ben accepts that blogging remains something of an alien concept to many lawyers but argues that it can be a professional opportunity for “up-and-coming lawyers.”

As a blogger, I can see the good side of the activity as well as the frustrations so am pleased to repeat the positives identified by Mr Wheway:

  • If well put together, it can help you stand out from the crowd;
  • It can make you a better lawyer by forcing you to keep on top of your subject;
  • It assists in the art of presenting arguments concisely;
  • It distinguishes itself from bland and naked marketing by adding a touch of realism and personal experience;
  • Gives a spin to the mundane material from which it derives and may get you noticed by people outside the normal readership of pure client targeted marketing bumf.

Perhaps we bloggers will not be in a minority for long after all. I am happy to admit that I enjoy it more than I would Facebook, although I have to confess to spending a fair bit of time on LinkedIn recently..