Your shout! On the proliferation of junk e-mail

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On the proliferation of junk e-mail

In response to Simon Moores, who called for united worldwide legislation to fight the flood of spam crippling some e-mail users

Spam will ultimately render the internet useless.

I have closed two personal e-mail addresses in the past two months - one with more than 1,000 mails totalling 10Mbytes - and only four of those genuine; the other with almost 2,000 mails totalling 20Mbytes and only six of those genuine.

The majority are sex-related and totally revolting.

I pity the younger, innocent mail users bombarded with such depraved mail from sick and depraved senders.

Les Abnett


On tracking ownership of documents

In response to Andrew Pearson, who said that metadata in Word documents can expose information not intended for the outside world

The name of the "author" automatically generated by a Microsoft Word programme is not necessarily the name of the person who actually carried out the work.

Corporate processes need to consider first the possibility that the person sitting at a keyboard is not necessarily the person identified by the computer or network as the user, and second that it may, in the future, be necessary to prove identity of the alleged author of a particular document in court.

In regulated industries, such as pharmaceuticals, this issue is already addressed, but I have seen many cases of documents in other contexts where the author information automatically generated by the software is blatantly incorrect.

This matters where individual accountability or the reliability or quality of the document is important.

Companies often put out documents which show no date and the culprits are often among the bluest of blue-chip company names.

Not only is this appalling record-management practice, it is a waste of resources - the absence of a date can render a document useless (which is not good PR).

Then access to metadata unwittingly provided can be helpful, but only if the date information is reliable - and how can we be sure that it is?

More generally, metadata is part of the digital record and should be recognised and preserved as such.

This is a complex area where there is still insufficient awareness, both in business and among the general public, who are shortly to enjoy the benefits of e-government.

Alison Macdonald, St Margarets, London


On the practicality of homeworking

In response to Maldwyn Palmer, who said the technology was in place to allow people to live wherever they wanted and work from home

You would think that a country the size of Australia would be ideal for the notion of "networked" staff, given the immense distances in this underpopulated expanse.

But the reality is parallel to that of the UK - we, the people, do not want to stay at home and our bosses still believe in "bums on seats".

The platitudes that are popular among technology and knowledge workers - that IT is the only way to reduce costs, absenteeism, high rental and lost travel time - still do not mask the frailty of such telecommuting technology, or the fact that most staff in the modern organisation are only knowledge workers in an extremely limited sense of the term.

Another issue is the lack of professional networking (in the business or occupational sense rather than computer technology) that current teleworking technology has not yet solved.

While instant messaging is attempting to alleviate some of these issues, ultimately the immediacy of face-to-face meetings far outweighs teleworking when complex issues need to be discussed.

So we have a situation where the real knowledge workers (the owners or senior staff of the organisation) need the immediacy of daily situation fact-finding and processing.

The duplication of that daily social interaction, along with the immediacy of other staff support (from the drones, if you will) puts the cost of teleworking far in excess of any perceived organisational benefit.

When you also consider that few organisations directly pay for lost travel time on their bottom line, the response to suggestions that teleworking is the way of the future is a consistent yawn.

Adrian Goldsworthy

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