Y’know, I probably shouldn’t have posted anything about that textbook I popped up in the other day. After months of quiet, as soon as that goes up, the Washington Post includes me in a list of twelve photos that should never have been posted online.

Michael Hanscom did not pose nude on Flickr, attack the locals with a stick on his trip to Mexico, or dress up like the Fairy Princess while calling in sick. His crime? In October 2003, the Microsoft temp posted photos of Macintosh G5s being unloaded on the Redmond campus to his blog with the title “Even Microsoft wants G5s.” And that was enough to get him canned from his job in Microsoft’s print shop for an alleged “security violation.” Apparently, the world’s largest developer of software for the Mac (besides Apple) didn’t want anyone to know that some of its employees use Macs. (Thanks for Michael Hanscom for use of the photo.)

(via Dad)

I’m a case study in a textbook — and, contrary to what might be believed, it’s not a psychological textbook. Rather, it’s the latest repercussion from my fifteen minutes of fame way back when.

Case Study

From Canadian textbook Business Technology Today, whose authors were kind enough to send me a copy after getting permission to quote me in their text. Thanks!

The headmaster of a technical school in Lozere, France, has been dismissed after discovery of his anonymously-written weblog, which was deemed obscene and pornographic (link to Babelfish translation). Apparently he was discovered when he posted his photo in a recent entry.

Can remarks published on a blog perso justify a dismissal? Yes according to the national Education which judged that this civil servant held a blog “obscene and pornographic”. It there posted its homosexuality and criticized its administration.

The fact is without precedent in France. Located on Internet via its blog Garfieldd.com, the headmaster of the technical school of Mende, in Lozere (48), at the beginning of January by national Education was revoked. The institution reproaches him for having published contents in “pornographic” matter on its blog, however held under pseudo (Garfieldd). But of the notes on its professional life frays with others intimate and on its states of hearts its function and identifiable place of work returned.

Besides in his last version(filedpartly), the chief of establishment posted his face in banner page. What could convince the professors of another college of the area to alert their hierarchy. “To denounce” others will say.

In an interview on line on the site of RTL, the headmaster reacts highly: “I challenge the pornographic term, that was never the case on my blog (…) in which I spoke about my life (and thus also) of my professional life. Objectively my blog was anonymous.” Like any civil servant, this headmaster was held with the duty of reserve, of which the blogs are not free.

I, unsurprisingly, discovered this when I noticed traffic getting a bit of a boost thanks to a link midway through the article.

This business rests the question of the freedom of the blogs compared to professional space. Abroad precedents exist: a Web designer American laid off in 2002, to have scoffed the life at its company (without quoting of names) on its blog Dooce.com; an employee of Microsoft in 2003, for an impertinent post published on its blog perso; an employee of bookshop in Edinburgh (Scotland) to have disparaged its employers; an air-hostess of Delta Air Lines to have photographed itself in uniform on an aircraft of its company in a sexy installation.

Heh. “Impertinent.” I like that.

I’m also starting to get hits from the ZDNet France article that the Yahoo! page was syndicated from. Two and a quarter years after ‘the incident’, and while things are slower, my 15 minutes of fame is still making itself known from time to time. Yikes.

Just adding another link to the ever-expanding 15 Minutes category here. Romm pointed out a mention of me in a commentary piece on TechNewsWorld that was published a couple of weeks ago. It’s a nice mention, too, as in addition to the standard “another fired blogger” mention, the author also follows up with my reaction to the incident, and contrasts it to Ellen “Queen of Sky” Simonetti’s Bloggers’ Bill of Rights campaign (which I think is goofy at best).

Contrast Simonetti’s response with that of Michael Hanscom. He was on a temporary assignment with Microsoft when he posted a picture to his blog that he took on the Microsoft campus. Microsoft essentially fired Hanscom, telling his temp agency he wasn’t welcome on campus anymore, thus ending his assignment.

The picture showed a pallet of Apple Macintosh G5’s being delivered to Microsoft. Hanscom said he took care not to show anything in the background that would give away Microsoft secrets, security systems or even building locations. But since the picture was taken on its campus, it made public an activity that Microsoft has a right to keep low-profile if it chooses to.

Unlike Simonetti, Hanscom concedes that Microsoft had a right to toss him out. Although he is a blogger, he realized that the normal legal rules apply to his situation. He started blogging back when blogs were just called “personal Web pages,” so maybe he has enough history to see blogging in its proper context — it’s just publishing. It is not private communications among friends.

I just dropped a note to Philip Albert, the author of the piece, thanking him for that.

I just got done with a lunchtime phone interview with Nick Jesdanun, a reporter for the AP. He’s still finalizing his article, and as this is going to be a wire story, there’s no telling where it might show up, but there’s at least a chance that my name will start popping up again over the next day or so (possibly as early as this evening) in the midst of another story about blogging, jobs, and the occasionally unfortunate intersection of the two.

I’ll toss a link up when I see it, but if one of you kind folks happens to catch it before I do, feel free to let me know!

Update: Prairie wins! She found the story first: Blog-related firings focus on policy. Just a small mention, but I’m in there…

In 2003, a Microsoft Corp. contractor was fired after posting photographs of computers from rival Apple Computer Inc. at a loading dock. Because Michael Hanscom had described a building in his posting, Microsoft said he had violated security, he said.

[…]

Microsoft refused to comment on Hanscom’s case, but pointed out that it encourages blogging and has more than 1,500 unofficial bloggers – the bulk on Microsoft’s official Web sites.

Update: And here’s a CNN version of the same story, courtesy of Tim.

About two weeks ago, I spent some time being interviewed by Amy Joyce of the Washington Post about my expulsion from the Microsoft campus for an article she was working on about the potential pitfalls of blogging about one’s job. The article went live today: Free Expression Can Be Costly When Bloggers Bad-Mouth Jobs. Here’s the section where I’m quoted:

Michael Hanscom started his blog, Eclecticism, before 2000, as a way to keep in touch with family and collect things he found on the Internet. A fan of Apple computers, he found himself working at a temporary job with Xerox on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash.

Hanscom said his family teased him that he would burst into flames when he walked onto the Microsoft campus. So one day, when he noticed a pallet of Macs — the same version he just bought for himself — ready to be delivered to Microsoft, he took a picture and posted it. “It struck my sense of humor,” he said.

A few days after Hanscom posted the picture, he said, his Xerox manager called him into an office. The manager had Hanscom’s blog up, and asked if the picture was his. Hanscom said it was, but said it was posted on his own time, on his own computer. According to Hanscom, the manager then said because it was posted on his own space and time, the company couldn’t ask him to take it down, but he could never come to the Microsoft campus again.

“It makes sense, really,” Hanscom said. “I’ve tried since then to look at it from their point of view. I never gave away any secrets, but I was in a position where I saw a lot.”

Quite a few other webloggers were quoted, too. Looks like my fifteen minutes isn’t quite over with yet! :)

(If anyone happens to be finding my site on a Google search after reading the WaPo article, my 15 Minutes category has all the gory details.)

Another one bites the dust, as they say — this time Mark Jen, formerly of Google.

TDavid has a good wrapup of information on this latest “blogger gets fired” story.

Update: A sure sign that I’m on the tail end of my fifteen minutes of fame: in this CNET article about Mark’s firing, I’m the only blogger mentioned who didn’t get a link. ;) This amused me.

(CNET link via Terrance)