UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

  • Email Subscription (Feedburner)

  • Twitter

    Posts on this blog cover ideas often discussed on Twitter. Feel free to follow @briankelly.

    Brian Kelly on Twitter Counter

  • Syndicate This Page

    RSS Feed for this page


    Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. As described in a blog post this licence applies to textual content published by the author and (unless stated otherwise) guest bloggers. Also note that on 24 October 2011 the licence was changed from CC-BY-SA to CC-BY. Comments posted on this blog will also be deemed to have been published with this licence. Please note though, that images and other resources embedded in the blog may not be covered by this licence.

    Contact Details

    Brian's email address is You can also follow him on Twitter using the ID briankelly. Also note that the @ukwebfocus Twitter ID provides automated alerts of new blog posts.

  • Contact Details

    My LinkedIn profile provides details of my professional activities.

    View Brian Kelly's profile on LinkedIn

    Also see my profile.

  • Top Posts & Pages

  • Privacy


    This blog is hosted by which uses Google Analytics (which makes use of 'cookie' technologies) to provide the blog owner with information on usage of this blog.

    Other Privacy Issues

    If you wish to make a comment on this blog you must provide an email address. This is required in order to minimise comment spamming. The email address will not be made public.

“Seek forgiveness, not permission”

Posted by Brian Kelly on 12 Nov 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?

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.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: