A heap of savagery

By | 28th July 2011

William of Wykeham (1324-1404) founded both Winchester College and New College Oxford. His motto, “Manners Makyth Man”  was adopted by both.

Make of it what you will but there has been plenty in the news recently to cause one to reflect that a few more “manners” would certainly help to “mayk” the “man” or men, or even women.

Manners makyth man has been translated to mean a variety of things but one of my favourites is the following:

“It is by politeness, etiquette and charity that society is saved from falling into a heap of savagery.”

You will realise, of course, that I am in fact talking about the frequency of buses, but before you turn away, let me put that subject briefly into context.

I have had cause to reflect recently on codes of conduct or the lack of them. Buses are not, of course, the same as codes of conduct. You can wait ages for a bus and then two or three come along at the same time. You can say the same about golfers from Northern Ireland (well done Darren Clark, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell) but not about codes of conduct. Codes take time to produce and have to be tested before they can be seen to succeed in achieving the behaviour deemed appropriate or changing attitudes. Golfers also take time to mature and while the spiritual home of golf will always be Scotland, there is certainly a lot of good coming out of Northern Ireland at present, even if it has been a long time in coming.

You might be forgiven for thinking that many people these days are waiting around for a code of conduct to appear. There is certainly a need.

We all got very exercised about MPs’ expenses a few months ago and how long ago that now seems. Along came IPSA and all has gone quiet except for the infrequent whingeing from one or two of our honourable members who complain that the system is too bureaucratic or onerous or does not allow them to claim what they used to claim. At least Jacqui Smith is no longer on the payroll so we are safe from having to fork out for bath plugs or questionable DVDs. One or two dishonourable former members of both Houses of Parliament are now guests of Her Majesty. I have to say that sounds much grander than being an inmate of a State Penitentiary in the USA but I suspect the former is every bit as unpleasant as the latter.

By now we must all be truly hacked off by what has become known as the hacking scandal. Mere mention of the subject will turn off my tolerant reader so I will be brief. We could do with a code of conduct here but none appears to be forthcoming.

Fortunately all is not lost.

Out of the blue, well Tweetdeck actually, I learn that the Electronic Discovery Reference Model group has published its EDRM Model Code of Conduct.

The code is aimed at vendors like Millnet and others. It does not carry the force of law but is designed to make vendors and others in this space think about the wider issues of concern in the e-discovery marketplace and as such are, as described by Thomas Gelbmann of Gelbmann & Associates  as “aspirational.”

Some describe the e-discovery world as the Wild West and in an effort to counter this allegation the producers of the code hope that service providers will promote their voluntary adherence to the code.

The five guidelines are professionalism, engagement, conflicts of interest, sound process and security and confidentiality. There are a number of “corollaries” and guidelines which need to be part of the process. For any serious provider, these should not present any sort of problem.

Can it really be that difficult for our elected representatives and the newspaper industry to come up with a similar code and stick to it?

It must be a better prospect than falling into a heap of savagery.