Transparency. We all talk about how companies, politicians, journalists, and even bloggers should strive for it. As a strangely intriguing way to maintain transparent business practices at marketing and PR firm lisapmaxwell.com, staff members go about their workday in front of a live Internet webcam. Can you picture (so to speak) how that would work in an IT department?
At first I thought that no one (or perhaps everyone) would like to see how tech workers respond to distress phone calls from non-tech staffers who are befuddled by how to insert a DVD in the slot-drive of their company-issued MacBook. After all, you don't want to own up to how many times during the course of the call you roll your eyes at the caller, right? Then I realized that perhaps webcams at the IT help desk might not be such a funny idea after all.
Remote desktop access is pretty standard fare across networks these days. Mousing around the screen of someone two floors, or even two states, away is nothing special.
How about describing to someone which cords will connect their new BlackBerry to their desktop PC? What about the ability to walk someone through hooking up a new printer? That's where webcams would come in pretty handy.
I recently saw a very interesting use of webcam video when sysadmin Shawn Powers took people behind the scenes in his server room during a town-wide brownout.
Noah Everett, the developer of TwitPic, recently posted a photo of the servers running his service that lets people post images directly to Twitter. Many people were surprised that the equipment only takes up about as much space as a standard DVD player.
It seems to me that letting webcams peer into the more obscure corners of IT might remove some of the mystery, and perhaps even fear, people have of technology. They could also be used to help IT departments troubleshoot tech support issues and give non-tech employees a look at just how complex some trouble tickets can be.
Just beware of the eyeroll.