The New York Times 1983 computer usage policy is awesome

first_imgThe year was 1983 — The Police and Michael Jackson topped the charts, President Reagan was still staring down the Soviet Union, and the final episode of MASH aired. Meanwhile, the New York Times got a newsroom computer and someone felt it was necessary to work up some guidelines on proper computer use. This document survives, and is very much of the time. The Times might have been hacked badly by Chinese forces last week, but it started off very cautious about computer use in the office.The 8-point memorandum was handed out to Times staff on October 25, 1983. It aims to remind everyone that the rules from the real world still apply to the computer. Yes, the computer shared by the entire newsroom.There is a lot of concern about privacy — several of the points basically reiterate the point that you should no more go through someone else’s files on the computer than you would rifle through the papers on their desk. Also, stay out of the system directories! What’s with you people?Some concerns expressed in the document are a little more familiar to our modern sensibilities. For example, Times employees are advised not to use the computer for anything unrelated to editorial work at the Times. No personal messages, no browsing around the files system, and no games. Computers are for work, you know.A few passages also seem to display some dry wit, like the section admonishing everyone to refrain from using the computer to send “indiscreet or potentially embarrassing messages.” Keep that stuff to typewriters, the memo says.With all the hand wringing over the recent intrusion of the New York Times computers, it’s easy to forget things used to be much more simple.via Scribdlast_img

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