Fifteen Minutes of Fame

It is very hard to miss Michael Hanscom’s Fifteen Minutes of Fame, since it made to #1 AND #2 spot of blogdex.com today. It is such a simple story, Michael owns a weblog and Michael was a temp worker working for Microsoft. One morning he noted a small event at the docking station, made a brief entry into his weblog. Later, Michael found his recent entry about his employer made it to slashdot.com. The next day, he was fired. Maybe someday someone will make a movie out of it?

The story didn’t end there because Michael’s weblog, unlike his employment with M$, continues.

I’ve heard of sentences and headlines here and there about how people got fired because of their weblogs. I always assumed it had something to do with leaking company secrets. As for the exact nature of such secrets, I always vaguely aligned it with something in the scale of Mission Impposible, something grand, important, blahblahblah. It is the first time I actually learned one such incident at its entirety. I¡¯m shocked at its …how should I put it?…triviality! Under comparison, the US government seems a much lesser evil than Microsoft. So maybe we have all been wrong about the evilness of politicians, it is really the big corporations that we should despise!

BTW, Michael quoted an article by Anil Dash, which I found very interesting.
privacy through identity control. It argues that there is no point in trying to maintain anonymity on the web. Hmmm…

5 thoughts on “Fifteen Minutes of Fame

  1. Corporations are very authoritarian structures.

    The system we live in dictates that we must earn money to survive. To obtain money we must be plugged into the authoritarian world of profit. Most of our waking time and energy is dictated by the logic of profit.

    The genius of our current economic system is that it is mutual coercion mutually agreed upon. At least in theory. The king has not ordered you to write code. By competing for the same goods and services, your fellow citizens require that you write code to earn money to outbid them for these goods and services.

    A corporation is a machine designed to make money. Removing or changing corporations doesn’t remove the coercion from your fellow consumers.

  2. Just wanted to mention that our coercion is ‘mutually agreed upon’. Most people believe that by and large our economic system, warts and all, is better than the alternatives.

  3. What cooercion? Since when has being integrated into a society become coercive? We all have rules to abide by. As kids, we have to live by the rules of our parents, as youngsters, teachers teach us that the price to pay for living in a society is to abide by its rules – what ever they may be. As adults we learn that these rules extend beyond family, home and neighborhood. They extend into the work place. Without workplace rules, workplace would be consumed with anarchy. I wonder if people would have a different take if it was a small business whose very survival dependent upon protecting proprietary information. Just because its Microsoft, people are up in arms. But Microsoft is owned by millions of share holders whose lifes savings are tied into the corporation. Microsoft is protecting itself and its shareholders through these actions. I bet you, Apple would have the same reaction, as it should. Apple jelously guards its propriertary information including scraps of photographs taken at its sites. And so it should. It has a fiduciary duty to its share holders to protect their hard earned money invested into it.

    For all those people crying about this little guy caught in the firestorm, I say, he should have thought about it before posting the weblog. And if he feels so strongly about his rights to post the weblog, then he should take it like a man, and not whimper like a puppy that has inadvertedly entered into the big dogs world.

    All this corportation bashing makes me want to puke. We live in a symbiotic relationship with these corporations, and to cast the large corporations into bad guys all the time is completely ignoring their contributions to the society. There are plenty of small businesses out there for those wo don’t want to be in large corporations. Join them. But then, don’t complain about job insecurity, or lousier benefits, or bad pay.

  4. Survival?
    What’s the big deal about buying G5 anyways? What is so bad about the truth? Is it illegal? If not, why hide it? If admitting the truth will threaten a company’s survival, then maybe there is a reason for it not to survive.

    Did you read Michael’s weblog? Did he “cry like a pupy”? I missed it if he did. In fact, I think he handled the whole thing a lot more graceful than Microsoft did.

    Puke away my friend, large corporations don’t need to be “cast” the bad guys. Just like people, some of them are bad and some of them are good. Most of the times, it is hard to be good when they have that much power and money. As for Microsoft, it is what it is. Its action says it all.

    BTW, for the millions of share holders who tied their life’s savings to the corporation, they might want to learn a lesson from Enron and its employees? Don’t put all eggs in one basket. Diversify! 🙂

    Happy be-lated Halloween!

  5. Dear anon,

    Did you interpret my statements as a rant against corporations?

    I said 1) “corporations are very authoritarian structures”, 2) “a corporation is a machine designed to make money”, 3) “removing or changing corporations doesn’t remove the coercion from your fellow consumers”.

    Statement 1 is a fact. I don’t think it’s bad. The military is very authoritarian. I don’t think that’s bad. These are simply factual descriptions of these organizations.

    Statement 2 is true. Public corporations are bound by law to answer to their shareholders.

    Statement 3 states that getting rid of corporations doesn’t solve anything.

    Therefore, no rant against corporations.

    The key elements in this drama are employer, employee, employer conduct, employee reaction.
    The guy could have been fired by Microsoft or could have been fired by a wealthy individual named, say, Gill Bates. Corporation or no corporation is not really relevant.

    Those who complain about powerful corporations should think ahead to a world without corporations. There was a world without corporations before. Power was held by flesh and blood humans. Rage was directed against chiefs, priests, barons, kings, emperors, merchants, bankers etc.

    Raging against the powerful agents in the system is a red herring. Attention is directed away from understanding the underlying dynamic of the system.

    Our system = mutual coercion mutually agreed upon.

    About rules … there are unwritten rules that govern most aspects of your daily life. Example: goods and services are awarded to the highest bidder.

    Other systems have been tried. Example: USSR. The individual was coerced by the state and this coercion was not agreed upon. Goods and services were not awarded to the highest bidder. Prices were fixed. Goods and services were rationed by a central authority. These systems collapsed (first).

    I find it interesting that the logic of the marketplace is taught as, and assumed by the general population, to be an extension of natural law. We have phds in physics going to wall street to supposedly apply the scientific method to the marketplace. You may have heard the phrase “the dismal science”.

    Summary: the system has flaws but there is no better. Corporations are a red herring.

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