Sunday, September 03, 2006

Business as Unusual

In honor of the Labor Day weekend, it's worth pointing out again that the use of new communication technology is not only changing the way we work but the politics of work. For example, I've been doing research for the past two years on how e-mail is used (or not used) by government employees in circumstances of disaster or scandal and how the rhetoric of whistleblowers often focuses on anxieties about the appropriateness of the genre of e-mail itself to alert authorities and the public to wrongdoing. Now YouTube is getting into the act. You can check out this video by a whistleblower and the Washington Post story that provides context. It's a compelling document, in which a senior engineer for government contractor Lockhead Martin, who has exhausted other venues for remedy, raises issues about Homeland Security and the appropriateness of equipment on U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats. He also uses other forms of visual aids, which he holds up to the camera, such as diagrams of the blind spots of security cameras.

Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported in "Read This E-Mail and Then Scram" about company employees who are given their pink slips via mass form e-mails. The Internet etiquette stickler in me thinks that this is extremely bad form. Unfortunately, this behavior has even spread to university campuses, as this story about E-Mail Rejection Letters indicates. (Whenever I think of rejection letters, which are -- of course -- interesting to any rhetorician, I think of Philip Dacey's poem.)



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