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Thoreau Would Have Wanted You to Block Access to Facebook

by John Pescatore  |  November 10, 2010  |  1 Comment

On this day in history, just a mere 59 years ago, the first direct dial transcontinental telephone call was made in the US. About 100 years before that, the telegraph was starting to spread across the US and across the Atlantic with much fanfare. However, some weren’t convinced of the value of this new form of electronic communication.  Henry David Thoreau just couldn’t see the business value, saying in 1854:

We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas, but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate. . . . We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic . . . ; but perchance the first news that will leak through the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough.

Yikes – sounds like he was describing social networks!

Of course, it actually did turn out that a lot of what Maine and Texas did have to say was drivel and that there was a lot of wasted telegraph bandwidth going to breathless reports about Lindsay Lohan’s rehab Princess Adelaide’s whooping cough.

But, that connectivity enabled a lot of people to be more productive, or at the very least feel more productive.  You can just imagine back then the first response was to block the telegraph to prevent people from getting distracted from their jobs, but of course the loss of productivity due to distraction was much lower than the productivity gains of connectivity. Of course, the telegraph was a private network with nothing but Morse code keys attached at either end – attacks weren’t an issue back in the day. But as always connectivity won out.

Same thing going on in security today – next generation firewalls and secure web gateways are way less about blocking and way more about securely enabling connectivity of people and applications – applications like social networking, where according to her wall,  Princess Adelaide is apparently back in rehab.

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John Pescatore
VP Distinguished Analyst
11 years at Gartner
32 years IT industry

John Pescatore is a vice president and research fellow in Gartner Research. Mr. Pescatore has 32 years of experience in computer, network and information security. Prior to joining Gartner, Mr. Pescatore was senior consultant for Entrust Technologies and Trusted Information Systems… Read Full Bio


Thoughts on Thoreau Would Have Wanted You to Block Access to Facebook


  1. James says:

    Thoreau would NOT have wanted you to block access to Facebook. He would have hoped that you were aware that your life was meaningful enough to avoid the uselessness of Facebook.



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