Wouldn’t it be weird if Google, KS blocked Google from their own computers?
Unfortunately, that just happened.
OK – it’s really Topeka, KS (Topeka renamed the city for that Google Fiber project). And they didn’t really block Google – they blocked Youtube (which Google owns).
But still – there’s some irony there, is there not?
Go read this newspaper article, City tightens control of employee Internet use. Then come back here, and let’s discuss.
Here’s what I find odd about the city’s recent decision to block staff access to social media sites:
“City spokesman David Bevens said the city prohibits employees from using their work computers to access YouTube, as well as the Facebook and Twitter social media sites, but some employees have nevertheless accessed YouTube on those computers … “
That’s got nothing to do with social media, and everything to do with employee performance. That’s sorta like saying “obesity has become a health issue at our organization, so we blocked employee lunches.” In other words, the city is dealing with the symptom, rather than with the real problem – in this case, employee performance. Blocking Youtube won’t fix that problem, I’m afraid.
“Stanley [interim city manager] said he was disappointed to learn the problem was directly related to the perceived need by some employees to access popular social media websites, such as YouTube and Facebook.”
And since those social media sites are essentially official city channels, I’d go so far as to say all city employees need access to them. At work. Otherwise, the city is blocking official city communications … from city employees. Nicely done, Google, KS!
IT manager Mark Biswell is quoted as saying this: “While these websites have value in terms of information transfer and marketing, they also pose an organizational risk in terms of lost productivity and through the potential introduction of viruses and worms … “
First off, let’s deal with that perceived “lost productivity” thing. Recent studies actually show that employees have increased productivity if they have access to social media. Want more productive employees? Give em access to Facebook and Youtube.
Second, that virus and worms thing. Social media sites like Facebook and Youtube don’t become popular if they’re sending out tons of viruses – instead, they get sued (thanks for that thought, @billludwig!). I sincerely hope that most IT managers know that “viruses and worms” generally don’t come from social media sites like Youtube or Facebook. They come from spoofed sites, rogue links in forwarded emails … and from uneducated staff. A better way to approach computer security would be to 1. unblock Facebook and Youtube, and 2. Train staff on appropriate use of web technology, and how to NOT click on those weird links or ads.
One last thing. The IT manager is also quoted as saying this: “Biswell said that to balance risks with the informational value of using such sites, the city was taking a proactive approach by cataloguing and safely providing employees access to YouTube videos that have business value related to training and education … The approach is the same one used by educational institutions, he said.”
That’s because the people at “educational institutions” are, for the most part, kids. Don’t treat your adult employees like kids. ‘Nuff said.
So why write this?
Thankfully, I don’t work at a city library, so I haven’t had to deal with this. But some of you librarians have dealt with this, head on. Library Directors – don’t let this happen to you! At least be informed, so you can intelligently argue your points to city administrators, city IT managers, or a city attorney. I’d love to hear from some libraries who successfully argued their points, and were able to keep or get library access to social media sites.
In other news, on Friday I tweeted a question to the City via their official Twitter channel, asking them how they were going to respond to my question, since they are now blocked from using Twitter.
Still no Twitter reply. I wonder why?