UK Web Focus

Innovation and best practices for the Web

“Seek forgiveness, not permission”

Posted by Brian Kelly on 12 November 2006

As described in Tom Roper’s Blog, the main theme of the ILI 2006 conference was Web 2.0. I spoke to a number of people who would like to deploy services such as Blogs and Wikis to support their user community, but encountered inertia and resistance within their organisation. It may have been Michael Stephens who proposed an approach based on “seek forgiveness, not permission”, suggesting that it may be better to take a bottom-up approach to such services, rather than wait for approval from on-high, which may take time in slow-moving, conservative organisations. And it seems that this phrase was also popular at the Internet Librarian conference two weeks later.

This approach is nothing new, of course: the Web became popular within the University sector in 1993-4 due, in part, to the innovations of researchers in academic departments, with central services within institutions often being committed to either proprietary CWISs (Campus Wide Information Systems) or Gopher .

An example of this approach can be seen in the Library at the University of Bath, where Kara Jones has set up not only a Bath Library Science News Blog and a Wiki for discussin and planning a Podcast service for the library.

An advantage of this approach is that the intended user community for the applications will be better informed of not only the technical requirements, but also issues such as usability, functional requirements and training implications.

Clearly there are also limitations with this approach. If things go wrong, there may be a need to seek forgiveness! What is the preferred approach – leadership set by central service departments, as described in my previous post, or a bottom-up approach? Or is there a third way?

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2 Responses to ““Seek forgiveness, not permission””

  1. “where Kara Jones has set up not only a”

    a what? and a what?

  2. ukwebfocus said

    Sorry Phil – glitch in the original submission. I’ve added two links to Kara’s wotk.

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