UK Web Focus

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Web 2.0: Opportunity Or Threat For IT Support Staff?

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 27 June 2007

On Thursday 21st June 2007 I gave the opening plenary talk on
Web 2.0: Opportunity Or Threat For IT Support Staff? at the UCISA SDG IT Support Staff Symposium.

The symposium was opened by David Harrison, Assistant Director of Information Services at the University of Cardiff and the current UCISA chair. In his introduction David argued strongly that IT Service department needed to be user-focussed, and this time they need to mean it as otherwise the user community will go elsewhere.

Steve Gough, Assistant Director of IT Services at the University of Reading and chair of the UCISA SDG Distributed IT Support Staff sub-group, welcomed delegates to the event and described how a Facebook group had been set up for the symposium, which would provide an opportunity for delegates to gave an understanding of the strengths and weakness of Facebook.

These two brief talks provided a much welcomed context for my talk, in which I argued that Web 2.0 can be a valuable opportunity for IT support staff, as well as for our user community. However in order to maximise the benefits, we need to make use of Web 2.0 technologies to support our activities – which will also provide us with an opportunity to understand the limitations and to develop strategies for addressing any concerns.

My slides are available on Slideshare and I’ve noticed that within a few days 5 Slideshare users had added the presentation to their list of favourites. And one user, sleslie, (who describes himself on his blog as “an educational technology researcher and emerging technology analyst … at the BCcampus Learning Resources Centre“) gave his comments on the slides.

Comments on presentation on Slideshare

What should be the quick elevator pitch for why people should adopt Michael Nowlan’s (note not ‘Nolan’ as given above) “allow before disallow” attitude? And perhaps more importantly, how should institutions support such cultural change? Or, as indicated by the opening remarks at the symposium, perhaps we are already well advanced in the UK, and it is universities in North America which face greater problems.

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7 Responses to “Web 2.0: Opportunity Or Threat For IT Support Staff?”

  1. Mike Nolan said

    While I might agree with “allow before disallow” (even though it invariably means more work for me!) – I think the quote should be attributed to Michael Nowlan :-)

  2. Oops, I suspected this typo might creep in at some point. In my defence I got the attribution correct in my PowerPoint slide, but Scott Leslie used the incorrect spelling, which I copied. I’d fixed the mistake in my text, but the image faithfully records the comment as published on Slideshare.

  3. Martin said

    Hi Brian
    I liked this presentation too (I picked it up via Beth’s blog), and have already referenced it in a blog post. I really liked Michael’s mantras – they revealed the difference between the open mindset that is readily found ‘out there’ and that within the strange world of academia. In my wife’s university the staff cannot install any software, they don’t have their own hard-drives and in general the IT staff impose software of their choosing. It’s like the mainframe mentality never went away.
    Martin

  4. Great presentation slide set as ever, Brian. And thanks for using my blog as an example!

    Couple of points:

    (1) Silly one this, on every slide from 8-13, if you click on the text in the white box at the bottom of the screen, it launches a web page that searches Warwick Uni’s website for the word, well, let’s just say it rhymes with duck! (I know why this is the case, as I remember you doing a similar demo during your talk in Edinburgh!).

    (2) While your “memo from next year” is obviously theoretical, it could be argued that on most points, the opposite of the point you are making is also true. For example, with staff retention, you may lose valuable staff if you outsource the service they look after to a Google or the like. Quite the opposite of what you are arguing. Also, you argue “Risks of going it alone”. I’d argue, “risk of signing away to a multi-national corporation” is more significant. Do TCD have an exit plan? Are they ready to excuse the limitations in the services (for example, GMail doesn’t support IMAP, so things like Blackberry are limited in usability)? Crucially, is a University willing to sell its student’s privacy to save some money?

  5. Hi Mark
    Thanks for the comments.
    (1) The link to the Warwick blog search facility was only supposed to happen when you click the bklue arrow. However as I made that appear in a group with the text, that will be the reason why. I’ll have to give some thought on how best to minimise possible offence with that one.
    (2) You are quite right: there are many difficulties which can be raised in connection with going down an out-sourced Web 2.0 route. However such issues have been raised on many occasions. The purpose of my talk was to give an alternative perspective.
    I’ll be revisitng such issues in a workshop I’ve giving later today on Managing New Technologies: The Challenge Of Web 2.0.

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