My favorite law firm here in Atlanta is Clueless and Clueless. It leaks like a sieve and is always good for a laugh.
Take this meeting held by the partners to discuss a new "acceptable use policy" for the corporate Internet.
The pointy-headed boss was concerned when the IT manager asked for a capacity upgrade. The money wasn't an issue -- there's fiber in the basement -- but the procedure meant justifying its use, and the boss was unhappy with what he found in the IT manager's report detailing what the troops were doing online.
About half the firm's online use was devoted to Napster and similar programs, like BearShare and Gnutella. One partner was making an album of Britney Spears demos for his daughter. One of the older partners was playing old Cheech & Chong bits when he worked late. Someone in the mailroom was searching for porn -- he wasn't downloading, just searching.
The office manager spoke up. "We could save half that bandwidth if we simply defined these file-sharing programs as unacceptable," she said. "The savings could be plowed into a makeover benefit for some of the stouter female litigators," she suggested.
This woke up the litigant in question. "We could be held liable for unacceptable files," she pointed out. "Pornography could lead to sexual-harassment suits."
"OK," said the boss. "File sharing is out."
The IT manager noted that, thanks to the new censorware program that delivered the report they were looking at, he could also cut off access to other sites at the discretion of management.
"We finished that case where the sheriff was accused of soliciting a prostitute," said the litigant, "so why do I still see access to porn sites?"
The IT manager said he'd turn them off right away.
"There's a site called cluelessandcluelesssucks.com here," said the managing director. After being told that was a site run by former employees, he had that cut out, too.
"Why should anyone be accessing the sites of our competitors?" asked the boss. "Are they thinking of jumping ship?" The IT manager said cutting out those sites would take just moments.
"What's with all this shopping?" asked the office manager. "Aren't they supposed to be on company time?" That access went.
"You can make the same argument on these entertainment sites and movie listings," added the office manager. So they were added to the list.
"You know some of these so-called news sites, like ClickZ, have columns that are awfully sarcastic and critical," said the litigant.
"Let 'em read newspapers at home," said the boss. "Anything else?"
"We've already cut our bandwidth requirements by 90 percent," said the IT manager proudly.
"We need to make sure our emails are all done professionally and that no one writes anything that might come back to bite us," said the litigant. The office manager suggested amending the policy so she'd read all outgoing traffic.
"OK, so there's no file sharing, no shopping, no entertainment, and no email without approval of the office manager," summarized the boss. "What does that do to our requirements?"
There was a long silence while the IT manager toted things up. "I think we can go back to a modem in the break room."
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Dana Blankenhorn has been a business reporter for more than 20 years. He has written parts of five books and currently contributes to Advertising Age, Business Marketing, NetMarketing, the Chicago Tribune, Boardwatch, CLEC Magazine, and other publications. His own newsletter, A-Clue.Com, is published weekly.
March 19, 2014