Sunday, September 23, 2007

Suckered in

I've managed thus far to resist most social networking things online, not because I'm a luddite (PLEASE don't tell anyone THAT nastly little secret) but because I just wasn't into it - I have mentioned earlier that I have enough problems keeping up with physical friends, let alone virtual ones. But on the advice of someone I respect (I have to stop following this girl's advice, I think) I signed up to Facebook.

Yeeha! It's fun! So many people...but this blog isn't meant to be just about fun things, so I'll take a professional view of this.

The first question that occurs to me is whether Facebook can legitimately be used in the workplace. I've heard tell of teams using it, but I'm not sure how. I guess it could be cool if you have a team of people spread across different locations, but...how do they use Facebook for work? Surely just knowing that someone is online doesn't do much. So how is it used? Any comments would be appreciated!

This leads me to the second issue - blocking access to websites from work. Being all about free flow of information, I'm generally against any kind of blocking, regardless of what it is. I also kind of feel that if you can't trust your staff not to waste all their time chatting online to their friends, then you have a staff management issue - either they don't have enough work to do or they don't want to do the work they do have. Facebook isn't the problem.

At my current POW, Facebook is blocked, as are any websites that are based predominately on blog software. So I can't, for instance, read my own blog from work. Okay, not such a big deal, right? Well, yes, it is. I also can't access the website for the Information Online conference, or the Library Association of Ireland, because they're using blog software in their websites. I'm just a temp, but if I envisaged my future there, these things would bug me.

It wasn't too long ago that most people had mobile phone numbers blocked in their workplace - some still do, which amazes me (I've got a friend who's in a pretty senior position at State Transit, and she can't call any of her client's mobile numbers - it's insane). Personally I was never in that situation because I was working in a call centre, and we needed to call all kinds of numbers. But I'm thinking blogs are the new mobile phone numbers - organisations are trying to block access to them because they're not seeing how they can be used professionally, but this will obviously have to change as more and more professional websites introduce blog software.

Have any of my readers ever had to justify the removal of blocks on websites in their workplace? I'd love to hear about your experiences.

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