At work I wanted to get access to enrolment numbers by course, so we could have a better idea of how effective the library’s presence is in the university’s course management system.
A few weeks ago I met with A, who works in an administrative office that manages data like this.
He said I should talk to B, who runs the systems where the data lives. A would join the meeting.
Later I ran into C, B’s boss’s boss, who said he’d be there too, because B’s boss was too busy.
Today I met with A, B and C. After some discussion they decided they couldn’t give me the data, but I should talk to D in the registrar’s office.
While we were talking, C messaged D, who said that A should give me the numbers.
A, somewhat surprised by this, said he’d talk to his boss.
All that sounds pretty ridiculous, and it is, but not only am I going to get the data, during the course of the meeting when I explained why I wanted the data B and C said there was some other data that would solve another problem I had, B showed me a network profiling tool they’re using to find bottlenecks that would be useful for my colleagues V and W, A said he’d pull me into some other meetings about different kinds of data, B told me about a Moodle usage database I’ll get access to so I can pull out data I had no idea was being tracked, and I told all of them about some library data we can share with them.
Academia can work very slowly, but in the large private companies I worked at, A wouldn’t have even met with me in the first place, and in a meeting like this, B and C would have been defending their turf, not opening up other data to me I didn’t even know existed. Don’t give me the story about private enterprise always being more efficient.