Putting an official stamp on things

Brian Kelly is having a ‘Groundhog day’ moment with the announcement that institutions can now have a presence on facebook.

It’s just like 1993 and 1994 all over again. Have we learnt from our experiences when we first set up our first organisational Web sites, or are we doomed to repeat the mistakes - and perhaps, as a indication of progress, discover new mistakes that we can make?

I agree! I distinctly remember what happened at my own institution. As my research area was crystallography I had a Vax mainframe account (anyone remember vms and runoff??). I set up a web site which not surprisingly was a mixture of stuff on my research and teaching. Chemistry by the way was one of the leading areas in terms of teaching innovations on the web – such as use of RasMol which enabled you to render real data in 3-D, on the web, real time – amazing!! I also had a short ‘about me’ section and that of course was my downfall…

The powers that be in the institution began to get wind of this ‘Internet’ thing; suddenly it began to appear on senior management’s agenda. One of the deans apparently was particularly concerned that ‘some academics even had pictures of their cats on their web sites!’ – guess who? ;-)

The solution – roll in marketing to set up a working group, to take control of the ‘out of control situation’, make sure the head of marketing has read the latest airport paperback book on ‘The Internet’ so that he is totally au fait with the whole thing and hey presto problem solved!!! And the rest is history – what followed was a period of stagnation and the creation of over centralized, bureaucratic, institutional web presences, with policies and procedures and dos and don’ts as long as your arm. Brian clearly has alarms bells ringing…

And this time, unlike the early 1990s, will it be the marketing people who are keen to establish a presence in this popular social networking service with the techies warning about the dangers of data lockin and lack of interoperability?

5 Responses to “Putting an official stamp on things”

  1. David |Andrew Says:

    The morality story of the danger of the cat on the web was repeated by a senior manager of the institution this year! The last cycle hasn’t finished.

  2. Gráinne Says:

    Lol lol lol what goes round comes around!!! It’s any wonder that we don’t all become cynical and give up!!!!

  3. Paul Walk Says:

    I can vouch for the fact that Gráinne’s Cat, much like Schrödinger’s, has become an established part of academic folklore, at least at that particular institution ;-)

  4. Gráinne Says:

    Aah fame at last!!! ;-) as an aside one of the three original cats is still alive!!!

  5. Don’t Look Back In Anger « UK Web Focus Says:

    […] by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 16 November 2007 In a post on Putting an official stamp on things Grainne Conole, professor of e-learning at the Open University responses to my post on UK […]

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