“A Free Background Check for Every Applicant” by Nick!

Unanswered’s own Nicolas Papaconstantinou has been thinking aloud on his blog, and it has some pertinence to our discussion about privacy on Show 15.

Nick wonders how we’ve come to accept informal snooping into the parts of our personal lives we choose to share online as A Thing That Happens Now when looking for work. If we wouldn’t accept actually being followed around as we go about our private lives, how is it fine to lurk amongst our digital shadows?

…how is it okay for an employer to Google an applicant or look at their Facebook account and use information they see there, existing outside of a working context, to inform their decision about whether or not they will employ that person?

I’m not strictly talking about those cases, often reported in the media or shared in offices as hilarious cautionary tales with black-and-white causality, of hapless applicants writing criminal nonsense on their Twitter account, or Facebook galleries full of photos of them getting drunk and disorderly in University bars with their friends. However, these are worth addressing.

My stance on the former is: if the things they are writing are actually criminal, we already have a legal system that can penalise them quite effectively.

On the latter: yes, most places have some sort of public decency clause in their employment contracts, and employers want to protect themselves from “bad” public behaviour, but here we’re faced with the conflict between what is possible or not possible, and what is right or wrong… The “real world” analogue of Googling somebody—seeing what they’ve left out in the digital wild about themselves—is following them on the street; seeing what they do out in public or pseudo-public where anyone can see. Resources-wise, the social internet makes one a matter of a couple of minutes and a half-dozen easy searches, while the other is far more labour intensive, but the goal and result are pretty much the same.

If that analogue is right, can it be inferred that the reason companies don’t do this in meatspace, and didn’t do it before the social internet, is because it wasn’t practical, rather than because it’s actually a bit icky and outside the bounds of what an organisation should be doing?

Food for thought and a read which is absolutely worth your time.


“How the interactive experience created the entitled fan” by Domi Sinclair

Domi listened to Unanswered Show 11, “Being A Fan”, and because it’s a subject area she’s very interested in she found it frustrating when the episode finished when there was still more to discuss.

(This is one of the most lovely things to hear, when you’re doing a show like this. The best podcasts are the ones that I find myself trying to get involved with the conversation as I listen, sometimes months after the presenters have moved on!)

Domi got so frustrated that she felt moved to write a blog post about it. In it, she manages to cover some pretty smart ground that hadn’t occurred to us during the show, and once you’ve listened to the episode, you should definitely read what she has to say.

As people/ fans get more and more used to companies asking for, and listening to, their opinions there is naturally going to come a time when they utilise effect platforms to give their opinion, even when unprompted or unwanted. They will then keep giving their opinion, louder and louder until they get the reaction they have become a custom to.

Oh, and in true Unanswered fashion, Domi manages to fit in some anecdotal over-sharing too!


The day before the Eastleigh by-election, Owen Hatherley—whom we mention in Show 9—posted a Comment is Free piece on Guardian Online entitled “How Labour got lost in Eastleigh’s unplanned sprawl”.

What appears on the surface to be a nondescript, innocuous town is actually a hub for a remarkable sprawl created in spite of past political manoeuvring which attempted to build an über-city on Hampshire’s south coast and would have swallowed Eastleigh whole. Whilst the article exists in the context of the parliamentary constituency of Eastleigh, and reflects on its political persuasions, there’s also a breezy summary of South Hampshire’s planning history, making it a useful companion piece to Show 9’s show notes.

In 1965, the Harold Wilson government commissioned the town planner Colin Buchanan to prepare the South Hampshire Study. Southampton and Portsmouth were growing, with their port and manufacturing industries increasingly important, and beginning to worry London, which now faced a potential rival in the south-east. Left unplanned, this would cause what in Outrage, a travelogue from Southampton to Carlisle, the writer Ian Nairn called “subtopia”, a thoughtless mass of indeterminate detritus strewn unthinkingly across arterial roads. Instead, the planned Solent City would be a consciously modern metropolis built in the gaps between the two historic port cities. Needless to say, locals and local government in the sleepy Hampshire towns that would take most of the expansion were mortified at the prospect of becoming part of some modernist Greater Southampton, and fought the plans until they were abandoned – though many of the ideas in Buchanan’s grid were soon re-used in Milton Keynes, to great success.


“In response to Unanswered episode 0” by Max Barnard

Max has posted a detailed and insightful response to Unanswered Show 0 refracting whatever light Nick and Steev managed to cast through his own prism. He’s very kind about the show and pretty honest about himself, so make sure you listen to the show if you haven’t done so already, and then take a read of Max’s mind.

So, I listened to my pair o’ pals Steev & Nic’s new podcast, Unanswered, which is absolutely ace and is totally a thing you should listen to. In fact go do that right now, this can wait. But yeah, they talked at some length about the idea of possession owning you, and by sheer necessity I started making notes of my own relationship with possessions, something that’s only recently become highlighted in my cross-global move to New Zealand back in June (I’m english, you see, so that was a hell of a journey). This post, then, is the actualisation of these varied thoughts into a more legible text piece about the things that own me, I own, or that I’ve managed to discard along the way. Be warned in advance, this amount of navel gazing was always going to read as incredibly pretentious. It’s also *really* long. Bullets points may be involved.