UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

The ‘Just Do It’ Meme

Posted by Brian Kelly on 4 Jul 2007

Mike Ellis, in a recent guest blog post, urged us to ‘go forth and mash’. Mike informed us that ‘Anyone who’s had the misfortune to hear me speak will know that I’m a big fan of a “just do it” attitude to Web development’. And, indeed, Mike and I were co-authors of a paper on Web 2.0: How to Stop Thinking and Start Doing: Addressing Organisational Barriers which expanded on this notion of ‘doing it’.

At the recent Umbrella 2007 conference, Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library, in the opening plenary talk also urged us to ‘just go and do’. Or, as Pandora’s Blog described it Lynne “spoke of the need to engage with the Net generation using Web 2.0 technologies – If they don’t come to us, we should go to them on their terms, in their spaces“.

And I’ve just noticed a post by Peter Murray-Rust who, back in May 2007, told us that the chemical semantic web has arrived! just do it NOW.

The infrastructure and the standards are in place, lightweight tools are available and the early adopters have demonstrated the concepts – it’s now now for the rest of us to just do it.

13 Responses to “The ‘Just Do It’ Meme”

  1. Pete Smith said

    Hi Brian,

    enjoyed your session at Umbrella. One thing I’ve been ruminating on is what you said about Lynne Brindley failing would be worse (for her) than someone at Rotherham College (my work place.)

    Now on the one hand, yes. But on the other, no. Failure is failure, and someone here is probably less insulated from it than Lynne. Is such a powerful person the best example of ‘just doing it’? Surely it’d be better to point to a money poor, time poor librarian who is blogging and tagging?

    And with respect to ‘just do it’, it has rather hectoring tones. You can almost hear ‘or get out’ at the end of it. Isn’t there a need for a better understanding of cour colleagues and using our professional networks to support people who find it diffcult to just do it?

    I fully support moves to opening collections, engaging in conversations with users etc; but it needs to be balanced and realistic. ‘Just do it’ is a nice slogan, but as a rallying call it’s a little limited.

  2. James Clay said

    On your bike?

  3. James Clay said

    Realises that comment may be taken wrong way…

    Realises can’t delete comments….

    Moves to get coat!

  4. Hi Pete
    Thanks for your comments.
    I would agree about the limitations of the ‘just do is’ slogan – and yes, it could have a hectoring ring to it.
    I would argue, though, that we’ve been through the Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 debates for a few years which had similarities with the Gopher vs Web debates (and yes, the Gopher crowd were convinced at one stage that Gopher was the superior system). However sometime around 1993-4, it was acknowledged that the Web had won and a ‘just do it’ (the Web) position was reached. I think we’re in a similar stage now. The issues now are how we do it, in what areas, how to ensure it’s sustainable, etc. – and not whether we should do it.
    PS James seems to think it should be done on yer bike. Personally I’m neutral about the transport protocol (although, of course, there was an IETF RFC on IP over Avian Carriers. :-)

  5. The phrase “just do it” was a quote from a session at WWW2007 – I think it was TBL.

  6. Pete Smith said


    thanks :) I know it must seem like semantic pickiness, but we do need to be careful about how we address one another. ‘Just’ is a word with overtones of exasperated ‘and why haven’t you done it? ;)

    On my blog, in a response to Phil’s comment, I’ve said that I’ve seen ‘just do it’ in action. I know it can work. I’m just never comfortable with blanket statements, especially when issued from positions of relative privilege.

    I remememeber Gopher. And WAIS. And Veronica…

  7. Pete Smith said

    PS Exactly. How we do it is the key. And we can’t ignore the politics of people’s situations. It’d be more productive to see how we can help people work with their institutions. This is part of the advocacy we were called to.

  8. Hi Pete
    I suspect we are in strong agreement :-) We do need answers to questions such as ‘how’? I’ve acknowledged this in my most recent post – and I tried to address such question in my recent talk on Managing New Technologies: The Challenge Of Web 2.0.
    I’ll try and address some of the issues you’ve raised in more detail in future posts.
    Thanks again for your comments.

  9. Pete Smith said

    I suspect you’re right. Let us never speak of slogans again ;)

  10. Mike said

    If I was feeling rude I might suggest that the fact that there’s an entire debate about the phrase “just do it” is entirely symptomatic of the kind of problems that we face..

    Oops. Inner voice.

  11. Pete Smith said

    Not rude. Wrong maybe but not rude ;)It’s nice to have to have the courage of your convictions.

    One reason people don’t ‘just do it’ is privileged podium pundits telling them to ‘just do it.’ I’m just asking for more consideration of how we try to persuade people, not a debate.

  12. […] featuring General Phil Bradley and Karen Blakeman” who march under the slogan “Just do it” and “the web sceptics gathered around Field Marshall Tim Coates. Their battle cry is […]

  13. […] Addressing Organisational Barriers” presented at the Museums and the Web 2007 conference. As I described in blog post back in July 2007 back then the cry was “Just do it!“. A year on, despite the economic problems […]

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