Networks – Do you have a spiders view or a global view?
My wife recently forwarded me an article “Databases Offer Opportunity To Weed Out Retail Job Applicants Who Are Theft Risks” from her daily news. The article got my blood boiling. Nationally recognized retailers are creating a blacklist. People accused of petty theft and shoplifting are being routinely added to a Do Not Hire database without any due process. I’m not really surprised but it is just plain wrong – the Federal Trade Commission has begun investigating.
I do understand that companies will “network” together to collaborate and solve problems. In this case retailers, are trying to solve the age old theft problem that has plagued them since cavemen started bartering.
But as I look forward companies will soon be unable to unilaterally impose their will. With the massive connectedness of the internet, information roams free. Information is no longer controlled by any one entity (company, government, institution or individual). Information flows across the complete network “ecosystem.” This subtle change has profound consequences for companies trying to collaborate and share practices. Solving problems by reaching for the quickest solution, such as creating a black list are no longer sufficient. Quick solutions have a way of creating problems for other stakeholders. Since when do companies have a right to ignore due process and trample our valued, “innocent until proven guilty.”
This quick solution approach, is like the spiders perspective; they are masters of what gets caught in their small web. But with free roaming information they are likely to have their hard work trampled. On the other hand companies that embrace the entire ecosystem cannot get trampled. They are forever embedded in the system. Companies clinging to the old social network paradigms will find themselves stuck so much like the fly in the global web, and a snack soon forgotten.
See also: NY Times article.