Wednesday, September 13, 2006

IT systems (and their crummy pidgeon holes)

One of my favorite bloggers - Euan Semple at "The Obvious?" - speaks elloquently on the apparent disconnect between social networking and (IT) business as usual. From today's musings:

Much of corporate IT has been designed to replicate a heirarchical view of organisations which pidgeon holes people and bears little relation to the real world they work in.

Also most people are still pretty uninspired by computers and fail to make them work for them. They have given up a lot of their social interchanges in return for staring at computer screens and neatly lined up behind the view of them as meatware in a system.

If on the other hand they had been encouraged to grow up, take responsibility, and form relationships then the power to get things done would increase dramaticaly - as the ability to get things done relies heavily on relationship and communication - two things which conventional computing seems designed to limit.

Those of us engaged in building social software for librarians (to use themselves or with patrons) should take note, becasue I think we easily fall into the same unrealistic, role-based "holes". In a meeting today about potential design and systems updates for WebJunction, perhaps the most "social networky" of OCLC's current projects, we had a long conversation about whether or not we were (on the staff-side) getting too focused on the system (ours, and ultimately fitting people into it) and not enough on the actual working days and lives of the folks we aim to serve (in the alternative, their fitting the system into their daily activities).

Euan reminds me, as did other colleagues today, that if we stay focused on and committed to the relationships and communication required to "get things done" - we will be much better off in the long run.


Matt said...

Sometimes it is simple. Isn't it? Communications and relationships.

I know this is kind of off of your subject, but that is what I teach adults in our "MySpace for Parents" classes. The problems or perceived problems with MySpace are first dealt with in talking with your teen/tween children, i.e., developing that relationship.

We tend to want to solve problems that have a technology element with technology. When it is usually about communication and relationships.

Chrystie said...

Not off subject at all, you point out that it's around all of our interactions with technology that we could sometimes use the simple reminders! Thanks for your comments, -CRH