Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sue Davis takes the hook. Tip of the hat to Glenn Poshard.

Looks like Glenn Poshard is serious about cleaning up SIUC. Sue Davis has been fired from her job and pushed off the side like an old can of beans (she is in charge of myspace?). Poshard put one of his smart guys in to clean up the mess while they look for someone competent to take over.

They seem to be looking for suggestions on how to fix the PR problems. Sounds like a cattle call to me.
Mike Ruiz, communications director for the Office of the President, said he will temporarily take over all of Davis' duties except as spokesperson. "If anyone within the university community has an idea or a suggestion, they shouldn't hesitate to contact me," Ruiz said.
His phone number is 453-5404, and other contact info on this link. They list his cell phone number, are they crazy?

Hey Mike, how about outsourcing the whole webpage project to an outside company? For half of what they pay now, an outside company could give them a world class webpage. That is how kids shop for a college now and SIUC's really sucks.


sthorne said...

Was talking with a friend who works a lot in civic affairs who was quite pleased to hear about Davis' reassignment. They figure that communication between SIUC and C'dale will improve quite a bit now.

Anonymous said...

>> how about outsourcing the whole webpage project to an outside company?

Could a remote - i.e. nonlocal - company maintain the webpage or do you still need hands on people near by? Thought you might know.

Peter in Carbondale said...

About outsourcing the SIU webpage. Sure, you could outsource it to someone who wasn't in the area. It would be better and worse, better because there is more talent in the big cities then here, but worse because the people involved wouldn't understand the place and love it the same way. If you gave that project to the Arthur Agency or Boundless Gallery and any of us decided to really make it happen, you would get a great result.

I don't see how you could do it without talking to lots of people in person. Finding a marketing story and a tempo of the place. Someone from your out of town company would need to be here or travel here a lot. Of course, most support could be done online and those people don't have to be in town.

The best result would be a local company with enough talent. If SIU gave the work to anyone and allowed them to grow a team based on that revenue stream, that company would do better for SIU on day one and after a few years there is some chance of a wonderful result. There is no chance for a wonderful result if you stay in house.

Kind of interesting to think about what I could do with SIU's webpage given some staff and a year or two. World class technology could be brought to bear. I would run screaming away from the Microsoft crap technology they are using now and do an open source/Linux deal like BoundlessGallery.com (it is so much cheaper and easier to maintain). The SIU webpage could be the best webpage of any University. Of course, almost every other university's webpage sucks rocks. The bar is pretty low. It isn't that hard, just need to use the pro's from Dover instead of petty bureaucrats.

Anonymous said...

We use no Microsoft products. We have Solaris boxes, but use opensource Apache, a Tomcat cluster, and MySQL.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I moved here two years ago from Houston and do some work with websites (as a writer). From what I've seen, there is plenty of talent locally to do a great website.

Peter in Carbondale said...

> From what I've seen, there is plenty of talent locally to do a great website.

I guess this is kind of true, if all you want to do is a little, simple webpage there is plenty of talent. If you want to have a true software development team, then no, there are very few people in Southern Illinois (heck, there aren't many in the midwest) capable of running such an organization. Further, if the top people existed, filling in the middle level folks would be impossible from the local talent pool. Once the organization goes beyond 10 or 12 people doing development, the wheels are coming off.

In a way we can point to the SIU web page as an example of this. In its simplest form, it would be easy to construct something, make some templates, choose some colors, etc and get it running. The problems start when you need to find a marketing message, segment the viewers, then you have the problems of if art and engineering really want the same template. When you go further, who is going to figure out how to really make it work right and choose the new technology. Even if you could, without the senior talent to delegate implementation to it is real hard. Clearly, Sue Davis wasn't up to this (but we knew that from reading the resume). The more people that are involved, the harder it gets.

Only by going to a place where the real pro's are will you begin to understand how much better the Silicon Valley type senior talent is then Southern Illinois talent. One of my big shocks at 21 was arriving at my first job in Silicon Valley and realizing that being the best programmer in the CS department at SIU got me to the level of sucking.

If you have a CS degree or equivalent and 10 or 20 years of work experience at every sized company, multiple OS's, multiple development environments, good managers and bad, products that made money and made nothing, have read and understand "Peopleware", "Mythical Man Month" and "Good to Great", you might be a senior technical performer. Otherwise, you are trying to climb up there and complete.

When you are a few years out of college and working on easy problems, you start to get the idea you know something. Doesn't matter how high your IQ is, you just don't know much yet. If you are working at a job where you do know it all at 25, you are like a 8th grade basketball player who thinks they can hang in there with NBA players. Of undergraduate students who think they have something deep to add to a professor. One of the problems in Carbondale is the competition is so easy, you start to think you know something (heck, watch me manage SIU from my office a few miles off campus).

I'm going to write up what SIU should do with their website in the new few days and you guys can have fun with that.

Mary Beth Perring said...

Hi ex-Houstonite again. OK, UNCLE!

Perhaps I was too quick to pop in. I am not a programmer, so I defer to your obviously more knowledgeable view. I work mostly with a few "simple" sites and have been pleased with the quality of the design, including open source maintenance tools and SEO expertise I have found here. It's certainly at the level that I have found in many shops in Houston, but I plead ignorance when it comes to judging the back-end stuff.

For the record, however, I am not a stars in my eyes newbie. I do have 20 years managing firm-wide marketing efforts up to $45M (not huge, but not inconsequential either) mostly for civil engineering firms of various sizes. The first strategic planning effort I ever led, back in 1995, resulted in my firm developing a website that came in second in a city-wide competition, beating out folks like NASA, Houston Chronicle and the Astros. (OK, competition wasn't too stiff in those days) It also led us to to the develop the first Project Management website for TxDOT for highway design (as well as one of the first in the nation). I still remember telling one of the Bentleys (as in Microstation) that our programmer thought their new $30K platform was elegant, but that we had done the job with a $50 program called "File Dog."

Two years ago my husband and I were driving through Southern Illinois. Fell in love and said "why not?" Bought a house and here we are. This area has a lot to offer. Just because we don't have all of the talent doesn't mean we can't attract it. Or that we can't do something that will "get the job done" without the perfect Silicon Valley team. Or that we can't do some parts and outsource others.

What is the engineer's mantra? "Anything worth doing is worth over-doing." I guess I'm just trying to say there's a danger in setting the bar too high. You could end up defeating an effort before it even gets started.

Peter in Carbondale said...

I agree with "ratbert" that it can done. It is much more likely to be done outside of SIU with SIU's money. Just think if SIU could randomly attract about 5 people like "ratbert" why are just passing through, then cut through the bureurcratic holdups, displace the established players who know nothing and put the new people in charge, there is a chance in heck they could do a rich website.

This sure is a beautiful place, the people are nice and the bike riding is world class. With the exception of my hay fever killing me in the fall, Carbondale and the people make me happy (but, I have been pretty happy everywhere I have lived). Our problem is lack of 30 to 50 year old college graduates with professional skills. Basically, we are missing all the gold collar workers who allow knowledge based companies to thrive.

Sorry for going over the top on my last comment. I should think hard about writing before bed, posting and going to sleep. I'm wiser first thing in the morning. :)

Thanks for writing in and making me think. Nothing better then having smart people to write back and forth with.

I'm working up to a manifesto for redoing the SIU webpage. Here is the first thought I have, the webpage should be aimed at two groups - prospective students and their families; and people inside of SIU. Currently, it is only aimed at people inside of SIU (staff and current students). Most likely it would be better to refocus into two paths and work with that Terry Clark TV spot as the student attractor.

Anonymous said...

Some of those 30 to 50 year old college grads can be found in Carbondale. They are the faculty spouses who are deciding between becoming permanent stay-at-home parents and moving somewhere else.