Most investment banks tend to use social media only for public relations, marketing, and recruiting.  The big ones, such as JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs forbid their employees from even using SM on their work computers.  Understandable—There is too much that can go wrong.

Additionally, the Securities and Exchange Commission requires these institutions to archive all employee communications.  That is challenging enough.  Once you throw in Twitter and Facebook, look out!

That is why Deutsche Bank stands out recently for taking a bold stance.  Two months ago, under the company’s direction, Ted Tobiason (Deutsche Bank’s head of equity capital markets for the technology industry) sent his first tweet.  In Tobiason’s words, “Tweeting is a way to show that we are part of the game and that we understand the changes in technology and we are using them” (Saitto, Serena. “The Lone Tweeter of Deutsche Bank.” Bloomberg Businessweek. 3/5/12—3/11/12, p. 55).

In spite of the spontaneous nature of Twitter, Tobiason is not free to just shoot from the hip.  His tweets must all be cleared through the bank’s communications office, and he is limited in what he can share for obvious reason.

Nevertheless, I see this action as a positive move by Deutsche Bank.  Organizations that want to remain current must enter into the same communication avenues most of their customers have too.

If you’re interested, you can follow Ted on Twitter: @TedTobiasonDB.

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It’s all in the timing.  This is true for so many things, is it not?

Among several other experts, Dr. Ralph de la Torre, the CEO of Steward Health Care System, was recently interviewed by Bloomberg Businessweek about the current state of healthcare in America (RX for Reform: Fix This/ Health Care, 2/27/12–3/4/12, pp. 55-60).  The subject was raised that the big problem with healthcare today is the very high price tag for the patient’s last six months of life.  De la Torre responds to that declaring, “No.  The real problem is that you never know when the last six months are” (p. 60).

Perhaps we have echoes of, “If I knew I would live this long when I was younger, I would have taken better care of myself.”

The healthcare debate is certainly a serious matter.  But it is never too serious to not generate a chuckle every now and then.  From what I know, having a sense of humor helps us live longer and healthier anyway.

I hope you have a great laugh today!

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We are moving toward a highway and road system that will allow vehicles to drive themselves.  We have the technology to do it.  Theoretically, this system would significantly improve driving safety too.  What’s not to like about it?

Roadblocks (pun intended?) include standardizing the technology among car and truck manufacturers, developing appropriate federal and state regulations, and achieving consumer acceptance.

Consumer acceptance could be the sticking point.  Recently on a television news program, after sharing a clip about futuristic self-driving cars, the commentator exclaimed, “I’m okay with autopilot when I fly, but on the ground, I want to be in charge.”  I laughed.

This person’s exclamation was a genuine expression of the fact he would feel safer driving himself instead of being driven by a computer.  Although he could accept autopilot at 35,000 feet, he failed to understand it on the ground—even when all the research indicates it would be immensely safer!

Consumer acceptance can often be the make-or-break piece to these new puzzles.  When it comes to self-driving vehicles, only time, and the consumers, will tell.

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Context is everything.  We know that is true in a novel, a journal article, or a personal conversation.  It is also true in how we use our technology.

Yesterday, I addressed the importance of being certain our social media life and the associated personal technologies always remain our servant as opposed to being our master.  Today I look at context.

Yes indeed—Context is everything.  “Under the knife,” means one thing when you wrestle your steak at the dinner table.  It means something very different when your doctor suggests you must go, “under the knife.”

As you aim to keep your technology in its servant role, never ignore your context.  Checking an email as you sit in a convention with 800 other participants is not the same as checking an email as you are delivering a PowerPoint presentation to your boss.

Multitasking can be a helpful and productive endeavor.  Sometimes, being able to have certain information in mind now makes a big difference in how efficient you are later.  Sometimes, a quick text or email to a key colleague now greatly improves your organization’s effectiveness with a key client.  No one can deny technology produces these kinds of benefits.

Simultaneously, we must aim to recognize the significance of context and the limits of multitasking.  Sometimes it is not smart to interrupt what you are doing offline with something your technology brings to you online.  Multitasking has limitations.  A person genuinely cannot give full attention to two or three tasks at once . . . effectively.

Context is everything.  Let’s consider it well.

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Much has been written lately about the insidious dangers of social media and the Internet.  Areas of concern are how we read, think, research, and how we relate to others both online and offline.  Some evidence exists to indicate Internet use fundamentally changes the way we read and think, perhaps even compromising our intellectual abilities.  People become overattached to their Facebook page and email at the expense of being engaged in the real world with the person sitting with them at the dinner table.

I have heard all these ominous prophetic warnings.  I have seen the shots fired across the bow.  I do not discount them.  They all raise valid concerns.  Nevertheless, I am one who affirms we must not fearfully run from our technology, but rather we must confidently control our technology.  We must understand the pros and cons of our technology.  That understanding should then inform our paradigm of technology.  We must intentionally manipulate our technology to serve us, while protecting ourselves from all its pitfalls and dangers.

Our technology should always be our servant and it should never be our master.  If your technology has become your master instead of your servant, then you have a problem.  If your technology has remained your servant, then you have no problem.

Think about how you read, think, and research.  Consider how you relate to others online and offline.  Assess the quality of your people skills.  Analyze your interpersonal relationships.  Ask yourself the question: Have I integrated technology into my personal and professional life in such a manner that everyone benefits?

For everyone’s sake, I genuinely hope you have.  HAL must not prevail.

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