Next problem? social networking spam… When is ‘ethical’ investing not?… ATMs for kids… Ads on your hands… Are dimwit lawyers better?

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Social networking emails – looks like spam, but isn’t

The massive increase in the number of people setting up profiles on social networking sites like MySpace, LinkedIn and especially Facebook in the past few months threatens to create a huge email overload problem, according to The Australian Financial Review.

Each of these sites sends a flow of message alerts, updates, and invitations to join that can number in the dozens each day. And because people have signed on to the social networking sites, the messages aren’t technically spam and often avoid spam filters set up by employers.

Given the popularity of these sites, and the business networking function that they often perform, businesses block employee access to these sites at their peril. Deloitte CIO Tim Fleming told the newspaper “trying to block social networking sites is a bit like trying to block the internet… if you do that there will be a backlash”.

One possible way to avoid social networking messages clogging work email in-boxes is to encourage employees to set up a separate email address to receive and manage the tide of email. IT consultant Mark Bazant told the paper he keeps five addresses: one for websites, one for friends, one for colleagues and two for work email. That’s the way the world is going – one email address is no longer enough.

Aunty B recently gave her advice on managing email. Maybe this could help.


Do ethical super funds live up to their name?

Many people choose to invest in so-called ethical or sustainable superannuation funds in the hope that their hard-arned retirement savings will help achieve green or socially valuable outcomes along the way.

According to Choice, however, many super funds with the “ethical” or “sustainable” tag make some investments that might surprise some of their contributors.

For example, Choice says most ethical and sustainable funds in Australia invest in big uranium mining companies such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, which they justify on the basis that the uranium is used for nuclear energy, not weapons, that the companies chosen get a limited proportion of their overall revenue from uranium, or that they have good environmental, social or corporate governance performance.

A number of sustainable funds also invest in companies that have direct involvement in gambling. For example, some funds invest in Macquarie Bank, which has gaming joint ventures with Tattersalls in Britain, and Publishing and Broadcasting, while others invest in cigarette giant British American Tobacco.


ATM for kids

Want to teach your kids how money works today? Why not get them their own touchscreen ATM?

According to OhGizmo, the ATM works just like the real thing, with kids getting their own ATM card and pin with which they can deposit or withdraw real or pretend money from the machine or check their balances.

Kids love mimicking what adults do – they tend to love playing with pretend mobile phones, for example. This ATM could well be a hit for the same reasons, as well as teaching kids some life skills along the way – not to mention consumerism.

OhGizmo says the touchscreen ATM will be available from Hammacher Schlemmer sometime in September for $US69.95.


Advertising at your fingertips

Clever businesses and advertisers are always trying to think of a way to break through the clutter and get their message out. Springwise reports that companies in Australia and the Netherlands have come up with a way to access one of the last remaining ad-free spaces – the back of your hand.

Passout Marketing sells advertising on rubber passout stamps, the stamps that are inked on customers’ hands to show they’ve paid admission for a club or are of legal drinking age. Because of their association with clubs and the nightlife, these stamps have something of a cool cache associated with them, making them an even better means of communicating a brand message.

In the Netherlands, a company called Handvertising is doing something similar. They’ve already got over 20 night-life venues on board and good responses from advertisers keen to reach youthful late-night revellers.


Less intelligent lawyers can be better

These days to succeed in a big law firm you need to be more than smart. Big firms Minter Ellison and Freehills are now using psychometric testing when hiring and promoting graduates and senior professional staff, reports The Australian Financial Review.

One organisational psychologist suggested that firms should consider hiring less intelligent staff. What firms want are personality traits, some of which are not traditionally associated with hired guns: co-operation, empathy, ethics and self-regulation, and an absence of interpersonal cynicism and defensiveness. Uh oh.





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