Unblocking the blockers

Jan 28, 2009 14:57 · 343 words · 2 minute read socialmedia

[![door] Controversy over whether time spent on social media sites is wasted or productive is nothing new - anyone who’s been around the block for long enough will remember similar discussions around email rollouts.  And no doubt there will have been the same arguments about putting electric telephones on people’s desks.

The problem is often manifested when someone, somewhere, takes the decision to block access to one or other tool.  At best, that reaction is down to a lack of understanding that social tools are becoming increasingly important to the way that people work.   At worst, it’s a symptom of the way IT - particularly in larger organisations - has a tendency to attract a section of the population that can only be described as petty control freaks.  They know who they are…

Going down the blocking route is fraught with problems, though - not least the fact that consistently blocking social media and collaboration tools resembles a game of whack-a-mole.   Block YouTube, and you’ve not stopped Vimeo getting through.  Clamp down on Google Docs, and you’ll still have missed Basecamp.  And so on.   Each different organisation has a different approach, which makes collaborating across organisational boundaries trickier that it otherwise should be.

Steph Gray, who’s the Social Media Manager at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills is on the front line of this - it’s pretty damn difficult to innovate if the innovative tools are off-limits.   So he’s come up with the Social Media Test Suite, which runs you rapidly through a selection of common social media service and tests access to each one via your current internet connection.

By aggregating the results across a range of organisations, he’s going to be able to build up a better picture of what’s available from where - and hopefully identify the best and worst of practices.  Although it’s aimed primarily at the public sector, there’s no reason why commercial organisations can’t be involved as well - after all, the need for collaboration and innovation is common regardless of sector.

[cross-posted from the Headshift blog]