2014: Data De-Tox and Tweet-a-Service

24 January 2014 by Adrienn Toth

If you are interested in predictions and do some “Googling” you will read about the future of wearable computers, the growth in super-computing and the emergence of exaflop machines capable of carrying out a quintillion (a million trillion calculations per second).  You can click on  a timeline for 2014 and read that the Internet will have greater reach than television, Google Glass will be launched to the public, most telephone calls will be made by the Internet and smart watches will be the latest must have gadget.  If you are interested in ediscovery predictions for this year you can read what some of us have to say by reading these articles on "E-disclosure 2014 and beyond" in the New Law Journal and on the SCL website.

Zero email and cyber-cleaning

By far the most appealing prediction I have read about so far for 2014 is the emergence of digital detox.  Given the deluge of data we produce daily via email and over-sharing on social channels it is quite clear we are now polluting our “virtual environments”.  I read recently that Atos, the IT company, with its 77,000 employees in 52 countries is embarking on an ambitious plan called the Zero email TM initiative which aims to reduce internal emails between employees by relying on other communication channels such as social media tools.   Of course, one has to ask whether this will simply result in the time being spent managing emails being diverted to the management of hundreds of chatter communication strings.  Nevertheless this is a bold and commendable move.

Some trend spotters are talking about the emergence of cyber-cleaning services which will help clean up our virtual environments.  That sounds like data nirvana and I am keen to find out more.  I do wonder though if any of us have time to back track and purge or clean up our storage unless we really have to.  It has become so cheap and easy to stash data and search across it and so hard to decide what to keep and what to through away.

Of course, for companies, and especially those exposed to legal action, retention and deletion raises some interesting legal and technical questions:

  • How do you decide what to keep and what to delete? It’s all good and well to scrub your hard drive and purge the data from your mailboxes and devices but what if there is litigation hold in place requiring you to keep certain data?   You cannot simply delete with gay abandon and ignore company policy and preservation obligations.
  • How do you get to the data to delete it? You may find is easy to delete posts on your company’s chatter tool or on Google Docs but how do you persuade your IT department or Google to deep cleanse their servers or sift through a mountain of back up tapes, delve into them and delete certain categories of data?
  • How do you ensure that you have really deleted it? When it comes to ensuring that your tapes are in fact squeaky clean there are procedures like “degaussing” (which sounds a lot worse than it is). This  gives you an expert stamp of approval if you need to show, for data protection or confidentiality reasons that all copies of certain data have been destroyed properly.

This is a topic that needs more research and I am resolving to find out more by talking to experts like my colleague Tony Dearsley and writing more this year about digital detox.

Social media – from advertising to commerce

My second favourite prediction for the year relates to social media commerce.  I read the other day that Starbucks has launched its Tweet a coffee service which allows app users to buy a coffee for someone viaTwitter by simply tweeting “@tweetacoffee” to @ ..... (recipient’s Twitter name)”.  I am all for that kind of sharing and am wracking my brains for services to offer via Twitter.