General, Process, Technology

Stories vs Facts

There is a great piece by Johann Hari in today’s independent where he gives a personal apology around using some not so ethical techniques when creating stories, I’d encourage everyone to read it here:

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-a-personal-apology-2354679.html

This piece struck a chord with me for a number of reasons. As someone on the receiving end of this type practice it was nice to see someone acknowledge that this is poor form, and I admire Johann’s courage and humility in owning up.

Two years ago I set up this blog as an experiment. I wanted this blog to represent my own thoughts on technology gained over 25 or so years in the IT industry and importantly I wanted to do it without affiliation or to prejudice my employer Sage (incedentally this is the first time I’ve ever mentioned my employer on this site).

Don’t get me wrong I love Sage, it’s a great company to work for, and I already write posts for the official Sage blog. But this was my blog it wasn’t about Sage and I wanted to use this to collaborate with people who have interests similar to my own, to learn more about the industry I chose as a career, and to share my considerable experience of the IT industry.

So away I went and I took the greatest of care to state that all comments I make are my own. What’s more I set up a twitter account to lead people to my blog based on exactly the same principles and ethics.

Has this worked?

Absolutely not… despite what I set out to do and the care I took not to use Sage’s name to promote my personal blog in any way, the comments I make and the things I write about are automatically attributed to Sage by those industry commentators and Sage critics looking for a story.

On numerous occasions the personal comments I have made about IT industry trends or events have been deliberately manipulated and in some cases used against Sage. There could be a number of reasons for this, someone has a personal agenda against me, someone has a personal agenda against Sage, or sometimes the facts on their own don’t make for a very compelling article, so the author embellishes the facts to build their own version of a story in a similar way as described by Johann’s piece earlier. Of course Johann isn’t alone in this, indeed he probably isn’t the worst, and I’m sure it will continue to be a widely used technique for the rest of eternity.

So, the advice I would offer to people in a similar position to myself would be… everything you say will most likely come back to your employer, don’t let anyone sucker you into a position where they can use you to get to your employer (believe me they won’t stop trying), and don’t let anyone make you look like a fool.

Be careful out there people….

2 thoughts on “Stories vs Facts”

    1. I’m always amazed by people’s behaviour on Facebook, sometimes it’s like kids being let out of school… Beggars belief that they don’t realise this stuff is there forever and one day they might just regret sharing something they shouldn’t have.

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