Posted by: Rowan | February 18, 2008

Webstock’s first streaker

Wow! Five days of Webstock. That’s brain-strain. Download overload.

The 8×5’s were just superb. The Internet is not private get over it – Nigel Parker put the bleeding obvious across so flawlessly, and with so much polish. I suspect Miramar Mike will become Webstock lore for taking us on his journey from the IT department to Web 2.0. Few people I know would change on-stage from suit and tie to T-shirt and pants to prove a point. But I’ll come back to that.

Zef conjured a web persona into Jimi Hendrix before we knew what was happening. The real Hendrix was better (I was hoping for Star Spangled Banner) but Zef’s one was a damn fine stand-in.

More minds than just mine were captured with Liz Danzico‘s talk on frameworks (I know this because I was earwigging on the way out). The parallels she drew between oral cultures and music, and social media were provoking indeed. I hope I can get a copy of her presentation. Damien Conway provided a hilarious lesson on taking the piss, and I wrote earlier about Kelly Goto.

In fact all the speakers were great, I walked out of each session with something new to think on. And I guess I’m still suffering from download overload, so some of it will have to get parked while I defrag my brain.

But back to Miramar Mike. Here’s a bloke prepared to change on-stage in order to prove a point. He must have felt pain somewhere to be that motivated.

I wouldn’t have the [ _you fill in the blank_ ] to do a preso like that, but I know the pain. How do you help an IT department come to grips with technologies so firmly rooted in user freedom, when their brief centres around control and lock-down? I’ve tried – sometimes successfully and sometimes not. And I understand their concerns.

But these ‘new technologies so firmly rooted in user freedom’ are falling outside the domain of the IT shop. Hell, what do you need to run a wiki or a blog? Half the policy people I know could jump on WordPress and set up a blog in half an hour. A wiki might be more difficult for them – they might have to call an ISP and ask them to install the software on a server somewhere. And pay a bill that’s smaller than what they expect for ‘technical’ stuff.

And they can manage security levels and moderation and important stuff like that. The Open Source community is pretty good about developing extensions and plugins to help people manage their environments.

So if a boatload of us hive off and start using ‘new technologies’ to do our jobs, which don’t need the IT team, where does that leave the IT department? Doing traditional IT stuff, I guess. Providing networks to their users, and protecting them. Providing systems for citizens to transact with agencies – stuff like that. Stuff they know how to do well, already.

The lock-down and control demands on IT departments today just don’t fit technologies like the social media, which are so rooted in the freedom of the user. I guess it’s ironic that it may be that that ‘freedom of the user’ (which is generally but not universally a good thing) has been behind the need for the lock-down thinking.

The social media are in the realm of policy, not IT. The heavy duty, high security thinking is what we need for physical networks, and systems for transacting with government. Not policy. But I suspect that’s a discussion still coming round the corner.

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Responses

  1. :-) All for a good cause …

    Whilst I suffer from the pain (much like many others) I am tech savvy enough to get around the perceived controls (they are never real and, like the Internet, it flows around the blockages … much to IT staff’s horror). Unfortuantely not everyone is and it’s for them that I shout up to the IT Gods for salvation … and then take my clothes off!

    You are perfectly correct with three points:
    1: Social s/w abhors controls
    2: IT Departments are required to control
    3: Users love using social s/w

    A clash is bound to happen.
    Particularly as ‘social s/w’ is so darned easy to set-up and use (as you point out) … it’s happening around them.

    Of course I am on a mission to save IT Depts from themselves (where that can happen) and set the users free to get on with the job at hand. If you think I can help drop me a line (miramar.mike@gmail.com) or keep checking out my Enterprise 2.0 NZ style the blog


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