Whilst attending the Museums Mashup which preceded the UK Museums and the Web 2007 conference recently I spotted the following notice which was pinned on the wall in several of the PC cluster rooms (and thanks to Jim O’Donnell for taking this and other photos at the event).

Strictly Forbidden notice.

As someone who used to work in a number of IT Service departments I’m aware of potential security implications. But the tone of this notice strikes me as inappropriate.

Michael Nolan's PowerPoint slidesAnd it also seems to be out of sync with the trend towards more user-focussed IT Service departments, articulated in the introduction to the UCISA IT Support Staff Symposium 2007 given by David Harrison, UCISA chair who argued that IT Services departments need to stop saying that they are user-focussed and actually mean it.

Michael Nowlan, Director of Information Systems Services at Trinity College Dublin made a similar point at the TERENA Networking the Network 2007 conference recently. As can be seen from his opening three slides (PowerPoint format) in a session on The Weakest Link? – a panel discussion on campus networks Michael suggested that the IT Centre might actually be the weakest link within an institution, focussing on its role in protecting the infrastructure by denying access to services to the detriment of the user community. And Michael challenged the notion of bans on technologies such as Skype and prohibitting students from attaching devices to the campus network.

In an email Michael recently summarised what being user-focussed means to the IT services department at Trinity College Dublin:

  • Yes before No
  • Allow before disallow
  • Open rather than closed
  • Connect to the network on a device-agnostic basis

I think this is a great summary of what “IT Services 2.0” should be about. And personally I think it should be strictly forbidden to put up notices containing the words “strictly forbidden” on campuses 🙂

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