I'm seriously frustrated by work at the moment. I am supposed to be working for a world leading ICT research centre, yet I am being told that our intranet should be using technology from 2000 and before. My boss wants static web pages so he can tweak every little bit of appearance (using <font> tags, of course). He couldn't give damn about maintainability or clean HTML – so long as it looks exactly as he wants it.
Replacing the static page intranet with the Drupal content management system saved me at least two days a week in work. Okay, it hasn't been all roses, creating vanity url aliases for each page has slowed the system to a crawl and the navigation needs cleaning up, but it can be done, if I have the opportunity to do so.
I have used the additional time to develop web applications, such as software and conference registration systems. "IT should do that" was his reply. Yeah right. It's hard enough to get properly functioning web servers, let alone custom applications. Ideally, IT and communications should work together on such things, which is what happened before they centralised IT services.
My role is supposed to be managing content. I'm afraid that bores the hell out of me. It's the development work that keeps me sane. I can't see how managing content using archaic technology is ever going to develop my career. Things have moved on outside of our organisation and our 49 and 50 year old managers need to wake up and see that.
I'm not prepared to go back to a static site. I am suggesting that we upgrade and clean up Drupal for news, forms, forums and event display, Microsoft SharePoint for document collaboration and sharing Microsoft Office documents (so the support staff can use the infernal Word) and MediaWiki for the scientists to collaborate with. Yes it would be nice to have one system that does everything, but really there is only me to set it up, not an army of system architects, programmers, designers, usability experts as some organisations use to design super intranets.
Big meeting on Friday to hear what the users want. I'm dreading that as there is much to complain about and many half-finished projects that have been promised to users, but pushed back due to changing management priorities. But I'm not quitting yet. I want to give them the best systems that I can. My loyalty is not to the narrow views of the communicators, but to the scientists, the one who are making a difference to this world. As the organisation continues in its quest to pretend that it is a business I often think that the scientists, the heart of the organisation, are the forgotten ones.