Without wishing to bring a fatwa on myself it always struck me that the great irony of the banning of the book The Satanic Verses was that it thrust it, and it’s author, into the spotlight and did for sales what no marketing campaign could ever have. This, I’m assuming, wasn’t the intention of the Ayatollah Khomeini when he issued his fatwa. It is probably one of the most famous books of the last 20 years now but I’m pretty certain if it had simply been ignored it would have been long forgotten about by now. Likewise even a very brief study of the prohibition period in the US can surely show what folly banning something that people actually want is. Not only is it counterproductive in terms of its objective but it runs the risk of creating criminals of people who would normally not be.
At the other end of the banning spectrum were a couple of emails I received this morning. The first is from a company called IT Security Bulletin and is helpfully titled – Why You Should BAN Facebook – An IT Manager’s Guide to Internet Abuse. I get emails from these people regularly, I don’t know why, I’m IT illiterate and talk of servers and ram and the like just leads me to glaze over. A cursory click on their email shows they have me working at an address we left nearly 3 years ago and my job title as IT Manager. I can’t decide if that is libellous or not, but it is certainly inaccurate. Anyone sending me an email that attempts to explain why you should ban Facebook might as well send me one explaining why the earth is flat. Yes, they think my company’s policy should be to ban the most popular social media site in the world. In a further attempt to show our colleagues we don’t trust them we’ll be carrying out random searches of their homes and subjecting them to water-boarding at lunchtime.
Minutes later I received an email from Corporate IT Strategy Bulletin with the following content – How To Keep The Chaos Of Facebook At Bay! Corporate Strategies Guide – Virtually all companies will need to allow a greater degree of technology freedom than exists at present, as completely controlling employees’ use of a burgeoning number of devices, websites and applications is simply not feasible.Although, it presents IT teams with the headache of having to find new ways of providing a secure working environment.

Well, well, a change in strategy, and a welcome one too. IT professionals can spend all day telling me how dangerous social media sites potentially are, but it’s simply head in the sand stuff. They exist, people are using them, deal with it.

Whenever I use Wikipedia or we benefit from something on Open Source I’m struck by the notion that IT people must have been involved in its creation at some point. How do they go from the genius and openness of that to trying to ban access to Facebook?

On further investigation I clicked on the second, more sensible email. Guess what, it’s from the same people; same wrong address, same wrong job title but entirely different message. Maybe this is just clever marketing. Send me a stupid email then send me a slightly less stupid one shortly after safe in the knowledge that the second one is going to get a receptive audience. Clever that. I take all the wrong I’ve said about IT people back, the world of marketing is clearly safe in their hands, just as long as you don’t want to tell any of your friends about it.