Facebook and Digital Partitioning

September 18, 2020

I am no expert on managing the Gen X, Y, and millennials creating must have services for thumbtypers. The services, like the young wizards, puzzle me. I don’t worry about it, but for Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, he worries and tries to remediate what seems to be a management Sudoku.

“Facebook Issues New Rules on Internal Employee Communication” explains new principles “to guide debates and conversations within Workplace. This is Facebook’s social network for employees. The article points out that Google moderates its internal message boards.

I live in rural Kentucky, but it seems to me that “principles” and humans who are digital content guards are an interesting development. The approach is even more interesting because Facebook has expressed a keen desire to facilitate social interactions.

I noted this passage in the CNBC write up:

The company will also be more specific about which parts of Workplace can be used to discuss social and political issues. This change will be so that employees do not have to confront social issues during their day-to-day work. Facebook’s new principles also ask that employees communicate with professionalism and continue to debate about the company’s work but do so in a respectful manner.

How does partitioning work in day-to-day communication? In computer speak, a partition is a chunk of a storage device. That data space is a separate logical volume. In a house, a partition divides one space into smaller spaces; for example, a big house in San Jose may have a “safe room.” The idea is that a person can enter the separate area and prevent an intruder from harming the individual. In the case of the storage device, a person or software system operates as the decision maker. the partition is created. The “user” gains access to the storage under certain conditions, but the user does not decide. The user just gets rights and lives with those rights.

The safe house is a different kettle of intentions. The safe room is entered by an individual who feels threatened or who wants to escape a Zoom call. The user locks the door and prevents others from getting into the safe room.

What’s the Facebook partition? Who decides? These will be interesting questions to answer as Facebook pushes forward with what I call “imposed adulting.” The partitioning of Workplace is an interesting step by a company which has been less than proactive in making certain types of decisions about social behavior within the Facebook datasphere.

A related question is, “How does partitioning work out in a social setting?” I napped through lectures about historical partitioning efforts. I vaguely recall one of my history professors (Dr. Philip Crane) expounding about the partitioning of Berlin after the second world war. My recollection is very fuzzy, but the impression I can dredge up from the murky depths of my memory is that it was not party time and pink balloons.

Net net: Partitioning a storage device is a god mode function. Partitioning in a social space is a less tidy logical operation. And when the computer partitioning meets the social partition? Excitement for sure.

Stephen E Arnold, September 18, 2020


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