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“There is no harm in keeping tiny emails”

Just a quick post –  came across this article when trying to fix a configuration issue with Apple Mail and Gmail, and I thought it nicely summed up the attitude I encounter from IT and others in our information governance engagements. Ask an attorney sometime if there really is “no harm in keeping tiny emails around in this age of ever-expanding storage space.” The drug dealers of the IG world have really done an incredible job convincing the addicts that the drug has no downside.

One of Gmail’s perks is a ridiculous amount of storage space, so Google has set it up to highly encourage archiving your email instead of having to make the decision to delete just some of it. After all, you never know if that rainy day will come next month or four years from now, and there’s no harm in keeping tiny emails around in this age of ever-expanding storage space.

http://www.macworld.com/article/2033842/make-mail-and-gmail-play-nice.html

More often that not, here’s what happens on that “rainy day,” in a depressing office park somewhere in the suburbs:

The company spent $900,000 to produce an amount of data that would consume less than one-quarter of the available capacity of an ordinary DVD.

RAND study on e-discovery, 2012

Now, folks outside of the IG and e-discovery bubble might reasonably think that, hey if there is ever a problem, I can just start deleting emails then, right?

Here’s a couple more quotes to consider.

Court Orders Mirror-Imaging of Personal Computers for Purpose of Preservation

Court Orders Production of Five Years of Content from Facebook, MySpace for Opposing Counsel’s Review

And, my favorite

Plaintiff Sanctioned for Burning Personal Computer


Tagged: compliance, E-Discovery, Information Governance, information technology, technology

Let’s Celebrate Global Information Governance Day

Thursday February 20th, 2014 is the second annual Global Information Governance Day. We established #GIGD to raise awareness of information governance across the globe. See the Wikipedia entry for more information.

Success in information governance can only be achieved by challenging and changing the way we see information. This is why Global Information Day is useful: it will help to raise awareness of the critical importance of information governance.

As you celebrate Global Information Governance Day with your friends and family, here are some key points to remember:

  1. Over half of the information many organizations create and keep is redundant, outdated junk.
  2. Keeping this digital junk around only wastes capital that could be deployed elsewhere – to create jobs, for example – and unnecessarily harms the environment through massive electricity waste.
  3. The failure to manage burgeoning digital information is a demonstrable threat to the civil and criminal justice system due to the out-of-control costs of electronic discovery. Many cases and investigations are settled rather than properly adjudicated simply because the cost of finding and producing digital evidence is unreasonably high.
  4. The global failure to properly classify unstructured information is represents a growing threat to individual privacy. Every day your private information and mine is at risk of theft and unauthorized disclosure by the companies and governance agencies because they lack consistent and cost-effective techniques to separate personally identifiable information from non-private information.

How can you celebrate Global Information Governance Day? Here are some ideas:

  • Chip away at your email inbox to try and achieve Inbox Zero.
  • Clean up and shut down an old departmental shared drive, just for fun.
  • Drink some herbal tea, read Zen Buddhism for Dummies, and try not to panic when you think about how big the problem is at your organization.
  • Take six or seven hours and try to explain to your friends and family, what exactly do you do for a living again anyway?
  • Participate in the first annual Global Information Governance Day Twitter chat.

In honor of Global Information Governance Day, I will be participating in a Twitter chat hosted by @RSDig at 11 am EST on February 20th, 2014 along with several other information governance experts. Hashtag is #GIGD. See you there.

In Review: The 5 Most Powerful People of 2013

Boy walking through the woods in Saratoga Springs

‘Tis the season for lists. The time of year we enumerate the best and worst of everything. Except, of course, the trend of putting everything into lists. That goes unenumerated. But okay, I will play. Here is my list of the 5 most powerful people of 2013. Let’s call it the Power List. The list of movers and shakers who really made a difference this year.

1. The person who read an article online, watched a YouTube video, read a tweet, or saw a Facebook post, and were seized by a powerful impulse to show how smart, funny, loved, insightful, or right they are by posting a snarky, smarmy, sappy, religious, political, angry, or edgy comment, but who did not.

2. The person who helped a homeless person learn to code but did not mount a social media or Kickstarter campaign about it, and did not make a bokeh filled, low contrast, high resolution DSLR Vimeo video with of the moment pop music soundtrack that darn it, despite your best efforts, make you feel . . .  something?

3. The marketer who lay in bed awake night after night, thinking there has to be way way to give our product a sustainability, STEM, social justice, girl power, organic, holistic, or dammit at least something to do with cats angle, but then slowly, painfully came to the ringing bell realization that sometimes a cotter pin is just a cotter pin and got back to work.

4. The grandmother who spends 4 hours a day bringing her grandchild to school. One of my children goes to a charter school that is located in one of New York’s poorest neighborhoods. Many of the children in the school have the odds stacked against them in every other area of their lives. One of my son’s classmates lives in even poorer neighborhood with failing schools that is two hours of walking, busing, and subway-ing away. Her grandmother takes this trip every day, twice a day with her. Their day starts at 5:00am. She does this because she believes that a good education is the best chance for her granddaughter to even the odds. The daily investment that she makes – every day, with no excuses – will not pay off for years. But she makes it anyway.

5. The man dying of cancer. A very close friend of mine, about a decade older than me, is dying of cancer. He was a college professor, and has legions of former students who – due to his honest, passionate, and fearless method of teaching – love him and see him as someone who has profoundly affected their lives. My friend has been practicing what I call “radical transparency” on Facebook. He posts several times a day about all the good and interesting things that are happening in his world, in addition to notes about his health and prognosis. “I can’t afford to go dark on this thing,” he told me, referring to his outlook on his health. Like all of us, he worries about the superficiality and value of Facebook. But here’s what I see: a man sharing his experience in an honest and human way that provides his friends and his “Friends’ with a model for dealing with mortality. And that makes him powerful.

Working Down on the iPhone Farm

On Friday I stood in line with 9 million other chumps (well, somewhere between 9 million and 4.5 million) at the Apple store to get a new iPhone. I learned a lot about what I am calling iPhone Farming –  the growing, harvesting, and selling of iPhones to the secondary market overseas. I was virtually the only non-Chinese person in a line of 500 or more. Anyway, read the whole store here, at Law Technology News.

The iPhone 5s logotext is seen in the window of the Apple store in SoHo, New York City on Friday September 20, 2013.

Window display in the Apple store in SoHo, New York City on Friday September 20, 2013.


Tagged: Apple, China, iPhone 5s

Special Bonus Video: What’s Your Favorite Records Management Joke?

As you know, we recently published the five central videos from our interview series, “5 Questions About Information Governance in 5 Minutes.” In this series, we asked 30 IG experts a number of definitional and serious questions about IG. Our experts were prepared for that. However, right at the end of the interview, I slipped in one surprise question. Since many of our interviewees have experience with records management, and records management isn’t known as the most light-hearted, spontaneous profession , I thought I would ask, “What’s your favorite records management joke?”

So that’s what I did. I love this video because it shows that this community has a great sense of humor and does not take itself so seriously –  a sure sign of health.

Next week we will be posting full interviews with each interviewee as well. You can also check out the six videos we have published so far on our YouTube channel.

And by the way, if you know any good records management jokes, please send them to me, or add them in the comments.


Tagged: ARMA, comedy, compliance, defensible deletion, E-Discovery, humor, Information Governance, Information governance videos, information technology, interview series, records management, records management joke, speaking, video

Happy Global Information Governance Day!

Today (February 21st, 2013) is the first annual Global Information Governance Day. This special day was created as an international celebration of all things information governance. Through establishing and recognizing Global Information Governance Day, we hope to raise awareness of information governance across the globe. See the Wikipedia entry for more information on this important day.

As we define it, information governance is a comprehensive program of controls, processes, and technologies designed to help organizations maximize the value of information assets while minimizing associated risks and costs.

Success in information governance can only be achieved by challenging and changing the way we see information. This is why Global Information Day is important: it will help to raise awareness of the critical importance of information governance.

As you celebrate Global Information Governance Day with your friends and family, here are some key points to remember:

  1. Most companies (and individuals) create and and store an enormous amount of digital junk.
  2. Over half of the information many organizations create and keep is redundant, outdated junk.
  3. Keeping this digital junk around only wastes capital that could be deployed elsewhere – to create jobs, for example – and unnecessarily harms the environment through massive electricity waste.
  4. The global failure to manage burgeoning digital information is a demonstrable threat to the civil and criminal justice system due to the out-of-control costs of electronic discovery. Many cases and investigations are settled rather than properly adjudicated simply because the cost of finding and producing digital evidence is unreasonably high.
  5. The global failure to properly classify unstructured information is represents a growing threat to individual privacy. Every day your private information and mine is at risk of theft and unauthorized disclosure by the companies and governance agencies because they lack consistent and cost-effective techniques to separate personally identifiable information from non-private information.

How can you celebrate Global Information Governance Day? Here are some ideas:

  • Chip away at your email inbox to try and achieve Inbox Zero.
  • Clean up and shut down an old departmental shared drive, just for fun.
  • Take your IT department out for a drink and find out where the legacy information bodies are really buried.
  • Drink some herbal tea, read Zen Buddhism for Dummies, and try not to panic when you think about how big the problem is at your organization.
  • Take six or seven hours and try to explain to your friends and family, what exactly do you do for a living again anyway?
  • Participate in the first annual Global Information Governance Day Twitter chat.

In honor of Global Information Governance day, I will be participating in a Twitter chat at 11 am EST on February 21, 2013 with several other information governance experts. Click here for more information, and I hope to see you there.

Author: Barclay T. Blair


Tagged: Garth Landers, Global Information Governance Day, holiday, Nuix, RSD, Tamir Sigal

Big Data: Ever Wondered What the “Internet of Things” Looks Like? Here Is the Infographic

Continuing my quest to educate readers about all things information governance, I bring you my new InfoGraphic illuminating a key concept in Big Data: The Internet of Things. You are very welcome.

Barclay T. Blair The Internet of Things

 

Author: Barclay T. Blair


Working Diagnostic Criteria for Compulsive Hoarding (of Information)

I have been doing some research into the origin of the animal drive to cache (generally healthy) or hoard (generally not healthy) things, especially important things like food or information. I am specifically interested in the evolutionary roots of this behavior, and also what it looks like when it goes wrong. Reality television fans are of course intimately familiar with hoarding thanks to shows like TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive and A&E’s Hoarders (with A&E presumably elevating the “E” in its name above the “A” with this show). Currently, “hoarding” as a psychiatric condition is officially a subset of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, but thanks to a coming revision of the standard psychiatric diagnostic manual, it is getting an entry all its own in 2013 (is reality TV now actually creating reality?).

My working hypothesis is that organizational information hoarding behavior is almost indistinguishable from individual object hoarding behavior. After all, organizations are merely collections and reflections of individuals.

Is this true? Well, lets take a look at the newly proposed “working diagnostic criteria for compulsive hoarding” and do a kind of search and replace exercise to see if the criteria also illuminate organizational disfunction around information retention and management.

Working Diagnostic Criteria For Compulsive Hoarding (of Information)

# Diagnostic Criteria for Compulsive Hoarding Proposed for DSM-V Diagnostic Criteria for Corporate Information Hoarding Proposed by Me
A Persistent difficulty discarding or parting with personal possessions, even those of apparently useless or limited value, due to strong urges to save items, distress, and/or indecision associated with discarding. Persistent difficulty discarding or parting with information, even information of apparently useless or limited value, due to strong urges to cover one’s ass, paper the file to catch your manager in a lie, and give e-discovery review attorneys something to do.
 B The symptoms result in the accumulation of a large number of possessions that fill up and clutter the active living areas of the home, workplace, or other personal surroundings (e.g., office, vehicle, yard) and prevent normal use of the space. If all living areas are uncluttered, it is only because of others’ efforts (e.g., family members, authorities) to keep these areas free of possessions. The symptoms result in the accumulation of a large volume of information that fill up and clutter active information systems. If information systems are uncluttered, it is only because of others’ efforts (e.g., family members, sleep-deprived paralegals, “accidental” overwriting incidents) to keep these areas free of information. 
 C The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (including maintaining a safe environment for self and others). The symptoms cause economically significant distress or impairment of business functions.
D The hoarding symptoms are not due to a general medical condition (e.g., brain injury, cerebrovascular disease). The information hoarding symptoms are not simply due to generally half-assed company management techniques (e.g., incompetent CEO, brother-in-law of CEO running IT).
E The hoarding symptoms are not restricted to the symptoms of another mental disorder (e.g., hoarding due to obsessions in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), lack of motivation in Major Depressive Disorder, delusions in Schizophrenia or another Psychotic Disorder, cognitive deficits in Dementia, restricted interests in Autistic Disorder, food storing in Prader–Willi Syndrome). The hoarding symptoms are not restricted to the symptoms of another organizational disorder (e.g., Big Data Kool-Aid Drinking, Overly Broad Legal Holditis, Keep Everything Forever Spectrum Disorder).
I think it works pretty well, don’t you?
Note that my intention, as you hopefully will have guessed guess by now, is not to make of light of mental illness or psychiatric conditions like hoarding which are very serious and require the care and treatment of mental health professionals.

Tagged: defensible deletion, hoarding, information hoarding

Did I tell you about the time that Sir Tim Berners-Lee gave me his autograph and told me to “KUTGW”?

Fascinating story today from David Galbraith, trying to track down the precise geographical location where Tim Berners-Lee invented the Internet. Was it at his office, and if so, was his office in France or Switzerland (the CERN campus straddles the border)? Was it at his house in France, or a place he lived temporarily in Switzerland? Read all about it here.

The timing of the piece was great, as just last night I came across the autograph that Sir Tim Berners-Lee gave me near the beginning of my career. In 1999 – when XML was still shiny and new –  I wrote a paper about XML’s role in secure electronic documents. The W3C (web standards organization) published the paper and invited me to present it at the 8th Annual World Wide Web conference in Toronto (along with co-author John Boyer, a key player in the development of XML standards). It was a big moment in my career. After my session, I saw Sir Tim standing in the back of a session, and approached him for an autograph. I find asking for an autograph – something I have done only a few times (Johnny Bench as a kid, recently, Muhammed Ali) – an emotionally complex experience, with competing feelings of shame, vanity, timidity, and brashness; but with the genetic handicap of being a polite Canadian acting as white noise behind the whole damn emotional cacophony.

In any case, Sir Tim was great, and it was a real treat to meet him.

Here’s his autograph, on the inside cover of the conference proceedings book.

WW8 Conference Proceedings Cover

Tim Berners-Lee Autograph

Since I scanned the page, I have I had been puzzling over what the writing above his name reads. Did I get someone else’s autograph at the conference too? If so, who was it? I don’t remember any other encounters. What were the letters, and what did they mean?  Had Sir Tim not invented the Web, this may have become a lifelong mystery. However, a quick trip to Google (feeling a little silly typing the seemingly random letters, “KUTGW”) instantly revealed that it was – of course – an acronym for Keep Up The Good Work. The answer was so obvious in hindsight that my brain immediately forgot that I used Google to come up with the answer and decided to give itself all the credit.  A couple more searches for “Tim Berners-Lee autograph” (hint, hint, SEO gods) revealed that he has used this inscription elsewhere, so I’m pretty confident that’s what it reads.

So if Sir Tim Berners-Lee had not invented the Web, I would not have been able to use Google to decipher his inscription. But, if he hadn’t invented the Web, I would never asked for his autograph in the first place. Whoa, dude, that is excellent. Okay, okay I am going to stop right now before I cause an irreparable ripple in the fabric of time itself and create an alternate reality where litigation is primarily a battle over who has failed at information governance least horrifically, and is no longer about fact-finding, truth-discovering and justice-doing. Hey, wait a minute . . .