Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Same talk, different audience

Today I've been to the Oxford ICT Forum Conference to speak on the challenges facing an IT Director in HE. The conference is open to all IT support staff in Oxford (and Cambridge) - those employed by the central IT service, the departments, and the colleges. The set up is very different to that found in Sheffield - the central IT service only provide the network up the outside of buildings for example. And I discovered that no-one knows how many university web servers there are as anyone can set one up (unlike in Sheffield where the firewall prevents web traffic going out unless you specifically apply for an exemption). **edit - I may have got this wrong - see comments

There were a LOT of people there - maybe 350? I gave the same talk as the one I gave to IWMW on Monday, (although I did remove the picture of Brian Kelly dressed as a woman on a bike) and it seemed to go down well, with a lot of comments and questions afterwards. I did think I might need a police escort out after suggesting that IT should be seen as a shared service within the institution before we start to look outside, given that they are so devolved - not even the business systems are in the IT department for example. However, perhaps I can get away with mentioning the unmentionable. It does seem to me, as an outsider, to be a remarkably inefficient way of running things.

During lunch I managed to catch up with the live stream of the closing session from IWMW10, to hear Brian Kelly making me out to be some sort of saint, and then Owen Stephens bringing me back down to earth with some good criticisms of my talk. You see, I have blackmail-able photos of Brian, but none, as yet, of Owen.....

PS - thanks to Tony Brett for the photo - but as he pointed out, it does look as though I'm having a Time Warp moment, and a jump to the left is about to happen!


Anonymous said...

Great talk yesterday Chris - time we got our act together here in Oxford. You said what many of us think.

Tony Brett said...

Actually you can't just run a web server in Oxford Uni and have it visible to the world without a firewall exemption. See

Chris Sexton said...

Apologies Tony - I stand corrected - someone, and I can't remember who, told me that anyone could set up a web server and there were many, many hundreds. I assumed therefore that the firewall didn't prevent this. Although I suppose I cold have been talking to someone from Cambridge.....

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris
The comments on your talk my myself and Owen was a staged dou7ble-act. I had agree to say goo talks with Owen then critiquing it, followed my Owen's positive comments about Patrick Lauke's talk and my critique.

The point of this approach was to demonstrate the conventional approach of concluding summaries of talks at conferences (typically bland comments) and to encourage a discussion on Twitter by providing differing perspectives on a talk.

Next time I get to criticise your talk :-)

Brian Kelly, UKOLN

Chris Sexton said...

What??? You mean you didn't mean all of those nice things you said about me?

jw35 said...

Hm, ironic:

You don't have permission to access /network/firewall/http.xml on this server."

It is the case that most people with a public IP address at Cambridge can set up a Web (or in principle any other) server without even having to ask, though departments and colleges may frown on or prohibit this. In addition, individuals increasingly get private addresses which can't be used to run externally visible servers.

The University search engine is currently indexing about 790 sites, but it is generally limited to 'more or less official' sites - there will be lots more.

Jon Warbrick