Disclosure Statement

I make my money by writing, editing, speaking and teaching/training.

I also advise companies/individuals on productivity and web site usability issues.

I don’t have any investments in companies or sectors I write about.

I will not write about a company, institution or individual where I do not have freedom to write what I believe to be the truth. I will not allow the subject to alter what I write except where I believe the piece can be improved upon by their input. The only exception to this has been when I wrote a piece for the Bulletin of the World Health Organisation. I have suspended writing for that organisation for the time being.

I do not take on work with companies or individuals that may create a conflict of interest — as I see it. If any conflict of interest, or perceived conflict of interest, arises I will flag it in my writing, or recuse myself from writing. This, of course, is a judgement call on my part.

Although I am no longer a member of Dow Jones staff, I try to comply with its code of conduct, where relevant.

If I have a professional relationship with a company (speaking, editing, consulting, moderating, training), I include in my contract with them a sentence that makes clear I’m free to write about them in any way I choose, although I do not use information I may have gathered while working for them.

The only exceptions to this are media companies with whom I have freelance arrangements. I write about such companies freely in my blog, although I do not write about issues that may conflict with my own relationship with them, nor do I write about internal issues that I may be privy to. These include Dow Jones, the BBC, Radio Australia, DestinAsian and other media outlets where my columns appear.

I receive review units and copies of products for purposes of review. Such products are returned, with the exception of where the cost of return would be more than the value of the product itself. In the case where the original shipper requests the item not be returned, it is held until the product no longer has a significant market value and is given away, usually to Freecycle. Software and books are not returned unless requested. In certain cases I request that devices are borrowed over a longer period for purposes of testing third party software or peripherals on them.

If you believe I still have one of your products and have not returned it, please accept my apologies and contact me.

I do not pay entrance fees to attend seminars, conferences or other paying events if I attend as a member of the media and intend to write about them.

I will not accept payment, payment in kind, or payment of expenses from a company for attending their press event. As an experiment I recently attended an event organised by a media company that in turn charged technology companies for a chance to present to journalists at the event. I allowed the media company to pay for the trip there, and for accommodation, including food and drink. While no pressure, direct or otherwise, was placed upon me to write favorably, or write at all, about the event or companies that presented at the event, or even to attend the sessions at the event, I’m still reflecting upon whether this was an acceptable arrangement.

I welcome feedback from readers and others on this Disclosure Statement. It is a work in progress and a day doesn’t pass when I have to figure out what is acceptable. The bottom line, cloying though it may sound, is that I depend upon the trust of my readers and will try to assess every situation with the simple question: Would taking this project on make me less credible in the eyes of a reader?


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