Social Networking For Work Explored

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In the latest installment of All Tech Considered, Omar Gallaga, tech culture reporter for the Austin American-Statesman, talks about social networks in the workplace and offers a primer on the dos and don'ts of office tech.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Whether social networking is keeping your inbox manageable or getting you in trouble with the management, we thought we'd offer up a primer on tech dos and don'ts around the workplace, again with Omar Gallaga. And Omar, services like Twitter and Yammer that we were just hearing about, this sounds promising in the workplace. What are some of the dangers though?

Mr. GALLAGA: Well, it's old news that blogging about your office, even if you're trying to do it anonymously, can get you fired. But now if you're using something like Facebook or Twitter, it can happen a lot more quickly. You have to assume that everything you post, even if your profile is private, is going to be seen by your employer or people you work with. If you don't want your boss to see photos of you downing shots in Cancun or read about you criticizing a client, you really need to keep that offline.

BLOCK: And what would the upside be - given all the risks and potential pitfalls here - what would the upside be of social networking on the job?

Mr. GALLAGA: Well, building a profile on a site like Facebook can give you a lot of control over how you're perceived online. It's a bit like padding your resume virtually. It can also make business networking a lot easier. A lot of headhunters and HR managers are using sites like LinkedIn to recruit and hire. And some social networks are not, you know, as public as Facebook or Twitter.

There is a service called Ning, N-I-N-G, that allows people to create their own more intimate networks. My high school class has a Ning page that is only open to alumni of our school. So you're seeing that with some businesses too where they'd rather create a very small invite-only network than create a public group on Facebook where anyone could stumble across it.

BLOCK: Moving away from social networking for one last thing, we have some - a listener question we wanted to run by you. This is a question that came in from Dave Moats(ph) of Valley Village, California.

Mr. DAVE MOATS (Caller): Like many other people, I've been accumulating music in MP3 format. But I've searched in vain for an appliance that will bridge the gap between the music that's on my computer and my home stereo. That's where I'd like to play it. Are there any alternatives besides dedicating a laptop to the stereo or carrying my iPod back and forth?

BLOCK: OK. Omar, do you have any help for Dave Moats there?

Mr. GALLAGA: Yes, Dave, there are a couple of options. At my house we use the Apple AirPort Express to stream music. It can stream music from any iTunes library in the house. It costs about $99, and it has an audio output that goes straight to your stereo. There is also a company called Sonos that makes a line of more high-end wireless systems that can be expanded to stream music to up to 32 rooms - if you have 32 rooms in your house.

There's also a company called EOS, that's E-O-S, that offers a similar system with a base unit and one wireless speaker for 249. And if you don't need the speaker, i2i Stream device transmits audio from an MP3 player or a computer for about 130. So you've got a couple of price ranges and options there, and I've posted links to all of these on the "All Tech Considered" blog. That's npr.org/alltech.

BLOCK: OK, Omar, thanks again. Good to talk to you.

Mr. GALLAGA: Thanks very much, Melissa.

BLOCK: When he's not talking tech with us, Omar Gallaga covers technology culture for the Austin American-Statesman.

(Soundbite of Windows startup sound)

BLOCK: For many of us, that is the sound of frustration. You come into work, turn on your computer, and wait and wait. Well, now workers at companies including AT&T and Cigna are actually suing their employers over that sound. They say they're not getting paid for the time they spend waiting to boot up in the morning and to shut down at night.

(Soundbite of music)

BLOCK: We'd like to hear your tech questions or ideas. We might even call you back and ask you to record your question for the air. Go to npr.org/alltech. There you'll find our new blog, discussion boards, and a good old-fashioned email address. Next Monday on All Tech Considered, we're going Web dating.

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