R. Fink | Tech toys for a new age

The Packet Rat'commentary

'It's official: I'm getting old.'

This was the Rat's revelation as he arrived home after a day of discussing how his agency might become an 'employer of choice for millennials,' or to put it more bluntly, be more attractive to the MySpace generation.

In other words, people like the Rat's offspring.

The reason for the whiskered one's outburst was that he had discovered his eldest son had more employees of his agency as friends on MySpace than he did.

'If I hear one more time how these kids work differently and are more collaborative and want to have the tools they're familiar with,' the cyberrodent sighed, 'I'm going to delete my profile from Orkut. Not that there's anyone on there but Brazilians these days anyway.'

The notion that a whole generation that has grown up texting and drunk-pic-posting its way into oblivion must be accommodated with technotoys is, to the whiskered one, a bit like trying to put lipstick on a TRS-80 ' especially because the Rat's network blocks MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and Second Life.

And for good reason ' those sites aren't for work, as anyone in the 'I Facebook From Work' group in Facebook could tell you.

That doesn't mean the Rat is against kicking it, Web 2.0 social-networking style. He can wiki, instant message, text and video blog as much as anyone, despite his occasional bouts of CrackBerry-induced thumb-arthritis.

And the Rat will be the first to admit that millennials are hardly the first generation with a predilection for using tools that are against work policy. He seems to remember getting his ears boxed over using something called instant messaging.

And back when he was a Navy type, his first laptop PC drew the ire of his executive officer, who said officers 'shouldn't use clerical devices.'

The tools of Web 2.0 can be used for good or evil, as evidenced by the tech-support wiki the Rat's underlings set up to track Web 2.0 abuses by the users whose systems crash while running the latest release candidate of Linden Labs' Windlight-graphics- enhanced Second Life. Of course, those are the risks of running a nonrelease cyberenvironment on a production network.

If they want to do that, they should just come to the Rat's office and ask nicely.


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