I have mentioned previously about the rather restrictive IT and communications policy at my new work place. Having actually started there now, I thought I might comment on how it works in practice.
The first point to note is that an awful lot of sites are actually blocked. There doesn’t seem to be a particularly consistent policy in place for this though: for example, Gmail and Hotmail are blocked, but Yahoo! Mail isn’t. I can’t get into Google Docs or YouTube, but I can access Flickr, Twitter and Google Reader without problems.
I don’t really understand the logic behind what is blocked and what isn’t. To be honest, I’ve never really understood the necessity behind blocking sites in the first place: I understand that you don’t want your staff spending all their work time messing around on the Internet, but wouldn’t it be better to trust people not to and just have a quiet word with anyone who was clearly not getting their work done? Maybe I’m just being naive.
I also think that there’s an additional point to bear in mind here when it comes to information work: sometimes, you will genuinely need to get into some blocked sites for your research. In a previous job, the IT staff eventually took off all the filters from the library PCs, because sites that our users needed for their legal research kept being caught by the “inappropriate content” filters. A colleague in my new job also mentioned one occasion when she’d needed to get into the French version of eBay to check something on behalf of a fee-earner, but because eBay is on the blocked list it took several days for the IT department to enable access for her. That, to me, is unacceptable – we can’t provide a useful information service if the network keeps throwing obstacles in our path.
Other than that small complaint, the new job is going really well! Really interesting so far, and the people I’m working with are lovely. Dissertation is not going so well, though – I haven’t really touched it since before I left for Washington. Was hoping to crack on with it this weekend, but I keep finding other things to do (like this blog for example, oops…). I will crack on with it tomorrow and next week though, promise!