UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Just Do It – But How?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 5 Jul 2007

I recently posted about the call to “Just do it” made by Lynne Brindley in her opening plenary talk at the Umbrella 2007 conference; a rallying cry which has been echoed by others.

In his blog post about the conference (and echoed in his trip report) Pete Smith asks “How useful is ‘just do it’ as advice?” The answer to that question is simple: it’s not useful advice, because it’s not intended as advice! Rather this rallying cry is meant to indicate that the debate has moved on and we should now be asking how we deploy technologies such as blogs and wikis, how we syndicate our content, how we go about engaging with user-generated content and how we address the broad issues of openness – and not whether we should. And must definitely not “we can’t do this because Web 2.0 is just a marketing term”. I feel we are at a stage which has many similarities to the position in 1993-4 when there was a realisation in the university sector that Gopher wouldn’t make it and the answer to the question of whether to use a home-grown campus wide information system, Gopher technologies or the Web was “It’s the Web.  Just do it!”

As Pete suggests, the question we need to address is “how?”. And, of course, this question will need to encompass the intended purpose, the scope, the legal issues and questions about sustainability and business questions.

And these are issues UKOLN has started to address.  And I’ve summarised some of the bigger questions in the poster shown below which I’ll be displaying at a JISC Emerge meeting on Tuesday.  I’ll follow up on the issues highlighted in the poster in future posts – and look forward for comments, questions and criticisms.


9 Responses to “Just Do It – But How?”

  1. Pete said

    absolutely. I’ve reflected further on this on the blog, and my point is (and will remain) slogans can come over as advice, even admonishment, when delivered from a podium. But that is a semantics issue and I wouldnt want us to get bogged down in it.
    With the ‘how’ we need to look at all factors, as you did to good effect in your talks at ILI2006 and Umbrella 2007. One of the great things about 2.0 is its sharing ethos, and we should use that both to connect people to success and to showcase it.

  2. Pete said

    PS as an example of the collaborative and reflective nature of web 2.0, I have updated the wiki entry ;)

  3. Mike said

    I’m not sure we should labour too long on the JDI tagline, not least of all because we’re going to get our arses sued by a well known multinational with a fairly dubious history of caring about the small people…

    The point of the phrase was not to appear patronising but to offer encouragement to those people in our sectors who want to spend less time talking and more time doing. As I said on a recent post, this of course all comes with the standard disclaimer – do it because it fulfills a user need, not just because you are overcome by techlust.

    The overwhelming feedback and conversations that I’ve had over the last 18 months has been from people in the museum sector who are full of ideas and energy, and they want to challenge the notion of organisational inertia and instead start embracing these new ways of working. I say this should be encouraged.

  4. Michael Webb said

    Personally I think the really important thing is to understand your own institutional culture, and understand your place and influence within that culture. Only then can you really understand how to ‘Just to it’…

  5. Pete said

    Indeed Michael. There is a great will to do things, but in a variety of contexts this will mean a range of things.

    As for encouragement, it comes through words and deeds and both need to be thought about before being sent out ;)

  6. Mia said

    I think we (as IT people within the cultural heritage sector) can help institutions JDI by finding content champions with our organisations and starting small Web 2.0-ish projects with them. These projects can be used as demonstrators, and can also kick-start the process of reviewing or creating policies for copyright, user-generated content, syndicated content, etc.

    I included a list of suggestions for getting started in a section on ‘Overcoming barriers and using Web 2.0’ at the end of a paper on The possibilities of Web 2.0 for the cultural heritage sector, and more importantly, have been working on implementing some of them in my own organisation.

  7. Mia said

    Oh, and this post has triggered a trip down memory lane – my first ever ‘proper’ job (in 1994) involved searching university library catalogues with Gopher via Veronica and Archie.

  8. Pete Smith said

    I saw those posts and agree with you totally. And in libraries generally there is a desire to do things differently. At a recent meeting here I said that there needs to be greater freedom for staff to do things without the need for umpteen meetings and papers. That said, these things do still exist and much work remains in convincing those in power to relinquish control.

  9. […] There appeared to be little dissent from the audience from the views given by he speakers. In my conclusions I suggested that the next steps should be to address the issues of risk assessment and risk management and embracing openness which I described in a poster which is included in a recent post on Just Do It – But How?“ […]

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