Over the last couple of months, there is a website that I have frequented almost daily. It is very difficult to stop once you realise just how much of it is available online immediately free of charge.
Yes, The Leveson Inquiry website has been my refuge for watching and reading about the subterfuge that was and probably still is going on between political parties and the media. But enough politics.
One of the reasons why the Leveson Inquiry is so good is how it is being conducted away from the courtroom deep in the bowels of the Royal Courts of Justice. The ease of access to all this information online, instantly, is great. The ‘trials’ are not hidden behind Requests For Information and a lawyer isn’t need to bypass The Freedom of Information Act. This information is available live and unadulterated on their Inquiry hub instantly.
The facile method used for getting to transcripts and courtroom cameras has made me realise that we like to know what is really going on behind closed doors. But we would like those doors to be left ajar, just to make our lives a little a bit simpler.
More recently companies having apparently been doing their best to be friendly and open. Not as blatant as saying we are honest but trying to be friendly and approachable. Having a more open business.
However on closer inspection this new found openness employed by a number of companies, in particular utility companies and high street banks, has flaws.
The aim of this apparent transparency was probably never to have a more open company but to reveal a little which gives the impression that a lot is being revealed (see Tony Blair at Leveson).
The same is true on their websites. Information is available and some is very readily available but much is hidden. The information that is a little unsavoury but that has to, legally, be given is difficult to find. How far into a website must I delve to discover how to close my account before the contract ends or how much is an overdrawn? As soon as this type of literature is sought, it falls into a state that is quite the opposite of the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter.
What I want is Open Openness. I want to see all this information, all this dirty laundry and I want to know where it is and I want it to be easy to find. I don’t think that is a lot to ask for.
Companies know that if it is difficult to find then people won’t look for it and that to me is just as bad as being a completely closed company.
This information might not be the prettiest to display on a site or in a brochure (do people still use paper) but if it is actually honest and easily accessible then in doing so, the company will be perceived as being honest and easily accessible. This sounds like a good thing.