Official Response

Want to get the attention of the editor in chief? Try making this comment in response to a story on our Web site: Computerworld is becoming increasingly schizophrenic in its focus. Itll work every time.

Before I get into the context of the comment, lets consider what that focus is supposed to be. Prior to the rebirth of our print edition as a magazine earlier this month, our focus was emblazoned on the front of every issue in the form of our tag line: The Voice of IT Management. That means we promote the interests of senior IT managers. We facilitate information-sharing among them. We ask the hard questions of vendors that our readers would ask. We serve as their advocate in helping to solve the technology and management problems that confront them every day.

For the magazine, we preferred the sleeker, less cluttered look without the tag line. But make no mistake: The focus is unchanged, and we have in fact rededicated ourselves to ensuring that the magazine truly speaks on behalf of senior IT management.

But what needs to be recognized here is that Computerworld is, first and foremost, an online media company. Online, were able to deliver everything we deliver in print, yet were also able to engage a much broader readership, including not only senior IT managers, but also IT professionals of all sorts and even workers outside the profession who are IT enthusiasts.

That brings us to our readers schizophrenic assertion. The comment was in response to a story posted on July 23: Your Boss Is Spying on You Right Now. What Can You Do About It? The article looks at ways to work around the monitoring of employees online activity.

This reader went on to say that theres nothing wrong with providing stories geared for end users. However, he wrote, if Computerworld is going to ... remain a premier source for business computing information, even its articles for users need to be written with an eye toward the requirements of business IT. Computerworld should never publish any article likely to make it harder for an IT department to do its job.

Other readers expressed similar views. I thought that Computer­world was [supposed] to make administrators jobs easier and that wed be more informed, one wrote. What this article spouts are ways to get around the very systems and people the publication is targeted towards.

Do the editors read these comments? another reader asked. It seems rather overwhelming so far that readers are unhappy with the direction this article took on this issue. Will there be some kind of official response from Computerworld?

Yes. But first, let me offer an observation. This article was the top-read story on our site the day it was posted, and it reached No. 4 the next day. It sparked a lively, well-informed, well-articulated discussion. At this writing, it has drawn 42 reader comments and 107 recommendations.

Those numbers tell me that online readers had a great deal of interest in this story. The interest of some of them no doubt lay in a desire to beat the system at work. Others suggested that the solution to employee monitoring is, as one reader put it, to just work at work instead of stealing time and resources. Still others found that the story provided needed ammunition: Articles like this, especially if youre in the IT industry, should almost be embraced, one reader wrote. Add this kind of thing to your arsenal for detection of people going outside company policy, rather than whining that its not something that should be written.

So heres my official response: When weve engaged our readers as effectively as this story has, weve done our job.

Don Tennant is editor in chief of Computerworld. Contact him at

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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