Current Affairs

Why should I keep my date of birth a secret? – Bill Thompson

Bill Thompson has a novel take on the whole Facebook/privacy debate:

The complexity of the interaction between online and
offline worlds has been highlighted recently by a spate of warnings
about how we are exposing ourselves on social network sites.

Unruly Oxford students have been tracked down by the
university authorities, a beauty queen in the USA has been blackmailed
over supposedly private photos, and employees have been told that their
employers may own any profiles or contacts lists they create using work

Now Facebook users have been warned of the danger of identify theft that comes from posting personal information on the site.

The problem is apparently that we are all giving away
too much information that should remain secret, like our date of birth,
address and even details of which schools we have attended or where we
have worked.

This information should apparently be carefully
protected because criminals can use it to fill in applications for
credit cards or loans, stealing our identities and causing all sorts of
This seems to be entirely the wrong way around.

I have never kept my birthday secret from my friends,
partly because I like to get cards and presents, and I do not see why I
should have to keep it secret from my online friends. If that means
that other people can find out about it then the systems that assume my
date of birth is somehow ‘secret’ need to adapt, not me.

But when it comes to loans, credit cards and other
financial services it really is up to the banks to adapt to the
networked world, not us.

I do not want to make 6 October, 1960 a secret date.
Nor do I want to have to remember who knows that my mum’s maiden name
was Clubbs or that I went to Southwood Comprehensive School.

In the networked world people can find out these things
about me, and so anyone who wants to verify my identity should realise
that they can no longer rely on them in any way. If they continue to do
so then they should be responsible for the consequences, not me.

And if identity theft is becoming easier because of our
widespread use of the internet then the ways in which identity is
established have to shift to reflect that.

We cannot rely on assumptions that served the Victorians
and limit our use of these new tools just because profit-starved credit
card issuers are unwilling to improve their inadequate procedures.

The problem here is not Facebook, it is the antiquated thinking of lazy companies.

Current Affairs

Was Alistair Campbell a freelance gigolo?

Asks Liz Hodgkinson.

She apparently interviewed the then unknown student/teacher
Alastair Campbell in his pre-Labour spin years and her piece was published by the Sun in May 1980. She claims that when Campbell’s biographer Peter Oborne tried to find the cutting, it had mysteriously disappeared from all records.  However, Liz kept a copy of her original article. It is well worth a read –  still trying to work out whether the innuendo of the opening line was intentional ("If
you are young, handsome and hard up, it is all too easy to become a


Current Affairs

75pc of UK plc senior managers to retire in next 3 years?

According to Management Today:

A considerable majority of the UK’s senior managers are due to retire in the next three years, claims a new leadership report from the Hay Group this week. The report states that up to three-quarters of the country’s senior executive managers will have collected the gold watch and donned their slippers by 2010. That means a pretty substantial upheaval in the higher echelons of UK plc is in the offing, and brings the perennial debate about succession planning back into sharp focus.

75pc is an extraordinarily high number – as implied here, who is going to fill their shoes?

Made me think about the PR industry –  increasing numbers of over-40s and above are getting out of the business altogether – which I guess is a form of "retiring". Will the PR industry’s woes be further compounded by the increasing lack of "grey hair".

Current Affairs

100 things we didn’t know this time last year

I’m a sucker for this kind of thing – the full list here.

Among my favourites:

The = sign was invented by 16th Century Welsh
mathematician Robert Recorde, who was fed up with writing "is equal to"
in his equations. He chose the two lines because "noe 2 thynges can be
moare equalle".

In America it’s possible to subpoena a dog.

The British buy the most compact discs in the world – an average of 3.2 per year, compared to 2.8 in the US and 2.1 in France.



The average employee spends 14 working days a
year on personal e-mails, phone calls and web browsing, outside
official breaks, according to employment analysts Captor.

Jimi Hendrix pretended to be gay to be discharged from the US Army.

Musical instrument shops must pay an annual
royalty to cover shoppers who perform a recognisable riff before they
buy, thereby making a "public performance".

Current Affairs

So, farewell then, Press Gazette

After 41 years, the Press Gazette closed its doors on Friday. leaving journalism in the UK without a trade paper.

Roy Greenslade of The Guardian has a good obituary here. Commiserations to all the journalists now without a job – especially Jon Slattery who has been there for 22 years (we crossed paths in around 1985/86, covering many of the same press conferences and launches – I don’t think even he thought at the time he would become such a fixture of UKPG).

Current Affairs

BBC NEWS – Blog aims to record everyday life

BBC NEWS | Technology | Blog aims to record everyday life.

Will you be posting?

Current Affairs

Barclay’s Bank – do as I say, not do as I do

Times Online

You really couldn’t make this one up. Barclays Bank Chief Exec John Varley has taken at out a mortgage with……HSBC. And the finance director and deputy chairman also have morgtages with other banks. Talk about not eating your own dog food.








Current Affairs

What do the National Lottery, Paris Hilton, Eastenders, car insurance and train times all have in common?

It would seem this is what UK Google searchers were most interested in during February 2006.

Google UK Zeitgeist – Feb 2006

The full list, in order of popularity, here: (I’m sure this says something about the UK today, but I’m not quite sure what):

national lottery
50 cent
paris hilton
car insurance
train times
cheap flights
katie price

Current Affairs

Swedish Alchohol Retail Monopoly – getting your message across

I was intrigued by a full page ad in today’s FT for the above. It directs you to the following site: – where you get to watch a 5 min video.

Whether you agree with the message or not (that alcohol related problems cost the EU Euro 200bn a year, that alcohol should be sold along Swedish lines ie through controlled, non-profit making, regulated outlets), the way in which it is presented is as slick as anything I’ve seen in a long time.

Swedish Alcohol Retail Monoploy

Current Affairs Technology PR Web/Tech

Web 2.0 in today’s FT and Guardian

Interesting that both the Guardian (Jack Schofield) and the FT (Chris Nuttall) today carry big features on Web 2.0 – and both carry similar style box out glossaries.

Both contain similiar comments eg nobody has really defined exactly what Web 2.0 really is, the threat to Microsoft, etc.

Were Jack and Chris at the same press briefing? Or is this simply a zeitgeist co-incidence?