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Final Score: 250 to 3 Victory for IT Services 2.0!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 14 Mar 2008

On Wednesday night Martin Weller and I were simultanaously sharing (via Twitter) the joy of a fightback, the tensions of extra time and the final failure of both our teams in the penalty shoot-out.

On Thursday morning, however,  whil I travelled to London for a meeting Andy Powell spoke at the UCISA 2008 Management Conference, Following my video presentation Andy gave his contribution to the talk on “Digital Natives Run by Digital Immigrants: IT Services are Dead, Long Live IT Services 2.0!“. How slides are available on Slidshare:

And as Andy described to a live Twitter audience (which I only caught up with later that day)  there was a debate at the conference on “this house belives (sic) that University IT services should block access to social networking sites“.

Andy reflected on the debate:

odd debate here… some people taking the motion very seriously… others treating it as a joke – hard to judge if people are seriously … … 

it’s a serious motion – though obviously positioned intentionally to stir up debate – but yes, basically it is daft

sanity prevails… only 3 out of about 250 IT Services directors voted in favour of blocking student use of social networks

Good news then :-) It seems IT Service managers overwhelmingly recognise that they can’t stop users accessing social networking services. But how was our talke received? Michael Webb has been blogging from the conference. He gave his views on my video presentation:

Anyway, morning themes were about Web 2.0/Social networking, starting with Brian Kelly from UKOLN and Andy Powell from EduServ – talking about IT Services 2.0. Brian wasn’t actually their though, and instead had pre-recorded his presentation. I find this pretty fascinating – I’ve had loads of discussions with people about why we don’t do this more often (we do actually do this for our IT induction), but it’s the first time I’ve experienced it as an audience member. So did it work? Somewhat against my expectations (Brian is a very engaging presenter in person) it worked fine (even with the low production values and a phone ringing half way through!).

And then went on to briefly summarise the content of my talk:

What about the content? Essentially the premise was that IT Services have evolved before, and can do so again, into IT Services 2.0 where we embrace, support, and educate users about the possibilities of externally hosted Web 20 services. 

Michael’s thoughts on the views expressed by myself and Andy:

So where does that leave us? The common theme between Brian and Andrew’s talks were they were both saying we need to understand risks. Some of the risks, in my opinion (and, I think, Brian’s) aren’t that great – service reliability for example – how often is Google or Facebook down? Privacy of data across national borders though is a really challenging issue, and perhaps one of the most obvious stumbling blocks to wholeheartedly embracing some externally hosted technologies on an institutional level.

There’s another significant issue though – we don’t really have any control of this do we? Our work and home life and identities are becoming increasingly blurred – we can’t ban people from using Facebook to support learning. So how much user education are we actually responsible for, both from a moral and legal perspective? It’s something we all need to give more thought to.

Later on at the conference there were “two supplier presentations – one from Google, and one from Microsoft, both promoting their free, web based email/productivity/web 2.0 suites.” Michael made an interesting comment on the tensions between the views of Myself and Andy that IT Services should move towards playing an enabling role rather than the provider of IT Services and encouraging Microsoft or Google to provide core IT services:

Second issue, and I need to reflect on this a little more, is that doesn’t this go against the IT Services 2.0 philosophy? We’d still be imposing a single tool set on our students (albeit an outsourced one) rather than educating our users to pick the best tools for any given activity. Maybe that’s an impractical aim – remember back to Sir Alan Langlands plea to keep things simple for academics? Don’t know – my instinct is that this sort of approach is still a very IT Services 1.0 things. Sure, Google Apps (say) may be a great tool set for a certain group of users for a given activity, but maybe another group or activity would work better with Elgg or WetPaint? I think this gets right to the heart of the IT Services 2.0 dilemma – how much technical diversity can our user base sustain? Or am I missing the point?

Now I don’t feel that making use of Google Apps should prevent ue of Elgg or WetPaint – unless your institution has foolishly agreed to a contract which requires the institution to only allow a single provider  of a service on campus (and I’ve heard this has happened with VoIP, which means institutions are contractually obliged to ban Skype from the campus :-()

But how use of Google and Microsoft externally-provided services relate to a vision of small pieces loosely connected vision is an interesting question!

12 Responses to “Final Score: 250 to 3 Victory for IT Services 2.0!”

  1. mjweller said

    Phew, thank goodness the vote came out that way. Although makes me wonder who the ‘three’ were…

  2. Following on from Michael Webb’s comments about Universities using Google or Microsoft email.

    I fail to see a difference between a University providing GMail or Hotmail as opposed to Outlook or Novell Groupwise. Either way the University is still imposing a “university way” when it comes to email. My question is do Universities actually need to provide an email account? Rather than focussing on tools to access these things I’d like to see us looking at the requirements.

    If everyone already has an email account do we need to provide another one? I’d argue that more often than not we could allow them to use their own and only provide email accounts for people when requested. That would be the ultimate in user choice and very IT Services 2.0!

  3. Code Gorilla said

    As a former support person, one of the advantages of a “closed” shop is the ability to provide [application] support at a reasonable level.

    Lets face it, would you expect a user-support person to be able to help a PHD student produce a thesis in Word (in about three different version) on a windows machine and a Mac; abiword, & KWriter on linux boxes; OpenOffice on anything; and GoogleDocs & Zoho on-line?

    … it’s a tough one

  4. Alison,

    So, are you saying it is an acceptable thing to throw a student out of University because they moved from Hotmail to Gmail and forgot that if they did that they would have to log on to a specific system at their University and change their email details?

  5. Brian,

    I’m really disappointed you should use the phrase “IT Services 2.0” when you know you saw it on my blog. Its especially galling that you should redefine it in such a tabloidy nonsense way that is so far away from the ideas I originally raised in my blog post on IT Services 2.0.

  6. Mark,
    hi. I did the other half of the talk with Brian and, as far as I recall, it was me that suggested the “IT Services 2.0” bit of the title to Brian (though I confess that I’m not a big fan of the title overall). I certainly hadn’t seen your use of that term before. Sorry. In an age where “2.0” gets tacked onto pretty much anything, I’m not sure anyone can claim to own a particular use of the term?

    For the record, the three blog entries that I wrote covering my half of the talk are at, and


  7. Andy,

    Thanks for the reply. If that is the case, then I humbly apologise to Brian for my previous comments.

  8. In response to Mark:

    I am not suggesting that all but I wonder if you’re suggesting that by simply having an institutional email system they are more likely to read information emailed to them?! I believe if you give people a choice as to what they wish to use they are more likely to engage with it.

  9. James Clay said

    I can tell you that some people I know ignore institutional e-mail because it is so easily abused.

    I should point out that we only have a few staff that can send all staff e-mails, but though that’s the case this 17MB whopper still got through…


  10. Hi Mark – In March 2007 in a post on IT Services Reinventing Themselves I said

    “yesterday Mark Sammons, a Senior Computing Officer at the University of Edinburgh (and contributor to this blog) published a posting on IT Services 2.0 on his blog. mark predicted that “In 5 years time, IT Services will be almost completely unrecognisable to how they are now.” Rather than feeling threatened by such changes, Mark is very optimistic about the future: “I see a great opportunity with this new world, this “IT Services 2.0″.

    I’m pleased that Mark has coined the term “IT Services 2.0″ to refer to a modernisation of IT Services to reflect the changing environment.”

    However, as Andy has said, it is common practice to use the 2.0 meme to refer to modernisation of an organisation, so I don’t think you can claim ownership of the term or how it is interpretted.



  11. Paul Walk said

    I’m quite curious to see Mark’s original post (doesn’t seem to be accessible from a cursory attempt to access it). The view of non-IT-Support personnel is well represented in this thread, while the views of IT Support staff actually supporting users in institutions seem harder to come by, at least in the blogosphere (I’m sure there’s some interesting cultural presumptions we might make about that!). It’s a shame that the self-defeating issue over the use of what is, in my opinion, a fairly disposable label has undermined the only dissenting voice in this thread….

  12. Yvonne said

    As someone who recently failed to receive an important message that my paper had been accepted for a conference because it was emailed to my institutional student email (where it was binned by an overzealous spam filter) and not to my personal email, I wholeheartedly support Alison’s view that students should be able to set a different email address than their institutional one as their primary email address (or just not bother having an institutional email address).

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