“Fleeting Expletive” Ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the ruling that stations can be fined for ‘fleeting expletives’ aired prior to 10 pm.  The justices indicated their decision was based on their belief that the FCC did not violate policy when changing the rule on expletives back in 2004.  They state that the First Amendment is not the issue at hand.  The Wall Street Journal covered the story http://tinyurl.com/c9xkoq.

I say, not only is the First Amendment the issue at hand, but several cultural communication issues are also at hand.  Of course, I am not speaking from the technical perspective of the court, but from a broader perspective.  The First Amendment is only the tip of the iceberg.  But, that tip is important when the government is fining stations for unintentional outburst of swear words in live broadcasts.  Never mind that the individual who makes the outburst has any responsibility or, for that matter, rights about what they say in public.

Culturally, American television is way more constricting than in other countries where breast are bared and expletives made without the fear of being fined.  As the world becomes closer through communication, I hope America can adopt a more open point of view.

Another cultural difference is the expectation that the government has any role in controlling the television viewing of children. Why parents would ever want to abdicate that role to the government is beyond me.  I like the FCC chairperson nominee’s perspective much better.

“Mr. Genachowski and other advisers spoke far less about policing the airwaves than extolling the virtues of how technology can help parents monitor their children’s viewing habits.”

Fair Facebook

Facebook took a vote.  Of course, only 640,000 users cast their vote, but at least the opportunity was there.  In an example of the new social media effecting society, Facebook opened up to its users a business decision on how to handle user information.
“The new governing principles state that users own the content they post on Facebook, but they do not provide a clause for permanent deletion from the site. The amended document also lays out how site changes will be handled in the future, saying that if 7,000 users comment on a proposed change, Facebook will provide alternatives and hold a public vote. As before, the vote is stated as binding only if more than 30% of Facebook’s active users vote. ”
Maybe just a first step, but an important first step at social order in the world of social media.

Why People Use Twitter

That is a question I have been pondering as I try and adopt the communication tool, but find myself with little to say to the general public, or that portion who has decided to follow my tweets.  Twitter founder, Biz Stone, puts it succinctly in a San Jose Mercury News interview by reporter Elise Ackerman.  (http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_12149975?source=email)

Q Why are people using Twitter?
A I think it is because we are realizing that there is a lot of value that comes from open communication. There is kind of an alchemy that takes place when you decide that you are going to move some of your communication to a public arena. You make connections. Things happen that wouldn’t otherwise have happened.

Open communication and alchemy — sounds like music to the ears of this communication scholar.  Makes me motivated to put in more effort and see what connections happen.

I’m All for More Openness

The Federal Reserve floated the idea of holding press conferences, reported today in the Wall Street Journal.  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123975237751018765.html#mod=djemalertNEWS

“The Fed’s policy makers already make and disclose economic forecasts four times a year. The Fed chairman gives detailed reports on the economy and monetary policy to congressional committees twice a year. And Fed officials speak regularly on the outlook and give frequent testimony to Congress. Press conferences would be a significant further step toward more openness.”

I am all for more openness.  So much of the current financial conundrum stems from lack of financial transparency.  Having the Federal Reserve take the lead towards openness, just might encourage others to follow suit.  Well, actually the European Central Bank is really the leader here because they already hold press conferences.  At any rate, I encourage the move — just in case they care what I think.

Office Design & Communication

Ever stop to think about how the design of an office effect communication? April’s issue of Wired had a story on the history of office design starting back in 1904 with Frederick Taylor, the father of efficiency, who first recommended the open bull pen with the overseeing boss.  This would seem to allow for open communication between employees because they are all right next to each other, but really hindered communication because the boss was always watching.  It did make people work efficiently.
In the 1960s Burolandschaft and Herman Miller started to mix it up with varied designs based on function of work — some stations side-by-side and some circular.  This was also the decade the cubicle was created.  The varied design did increase communication, when and where is what needed for work.
By the 1980s the cubicle had been taken to the extreme and farms were built with everyone having their own ‘space.’  I remember that illusion of privacy — you could hear everyone’s phone calls, but you couldn’t see what they were wearing unless you walked around.  Cubicles inhibited communication between employees because you had to walk around or go into a conference room to collaborate.
As of late, designers are getting more creative and creating compromises that facilitate communication with some privacy.  The new designs may give the illusion of privacy, but everyone can still hear each others’ calls.  Not that that is a bad thing — it keeps people focused on work when they are at work.  Circling back to Taylor efficiency.
Next time you walk in to an office, you may ponder — just  how is this design effecting communication?