Amman Blocks News Websites

This is a fairly interesting tale on Ammon today. Mayor Maani has ordered for various sites including local news websites like Ammon itself, be blocked from Greater Amman Municipality computers. GAM employees seem to be spending way too much time reading online instead of working. It’s funny how government employees drinking coffee and reading newspapers can still be widely seen throughout the Kingdom’s public sector, and how that exercise seems to have moved online.

However, what is interesting is really the ceiling here. For while it may be understandable to block MSN Messenger or Facebook, which contribute to idle-time and are widely blocked in various companies all over the world – can the same be said of news websites?

Is there a slippery slope here to consider?

How many websites can be considered time-wasters? Do we block just the top five? Top ten? Twenty?

Does the banning of YouTube only increase the usage of Ikbis?

Does the banning of news websites means an increase in blog traffic?

Heck, speaking strictly from a productivity point of view, the whole Internet may be more trouble than its really worth. Should the Internet be banned all together?

Also, does prohibiting an activity that induces idle-time, only push an idle-worker to find another activity to fill his or her time?

Note that I am neither with nor against the blocking of sites for the sake of raising productivity. I understand the point of view of the employers. I’m merely suggesting that it’s not as easy as one might think, and that it warrants various considerations.

I’m guessing there are not many blog readers at the GAM and other government institutions, but if someone is reading this now. I feel your pain.

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  • I read that news this morning and laughed. Wasting time and non-committed public workers is a management and work environment problem. LIke you point out, what do you block, and what not? Where does it end? And if people want to waste time, not deliver against their work commitment, they will no matter what. They play solitaire and will find so many things to idle away thru. They’ll make hallway friends, engage in workplace affairs, and take the long way around the building to the conference room and back.

    Perhaps capacity building is a better strategy. Empowering good supervisors, team leaders, middle managers. Holding people accountable helps. Community building around people related issues of the GAM would do wonders. Get people engaged in their work and beyond in new ways that develop a sustainable healthy workplace environment. People are not machines. They need leaders, inspiration, motivation, a system of checks and balances, and an environment that nurtures.

    Block all you want. Censor all you want. That never was nor will ever be a viable, progressive solution.

    This is yet another frustrating move that pushes the structure away from being people oriented and only makes it fear oriented. It doesn’t work. It’s not healthy. But it is easy.

  • i worked at a company that only gave u a certain quota of kb u could use per day .. if u exceeded it the net bisakkir bi wijhak .. normally i got 5-10 min a day before i would max out :-/

    but now the company i work at gives us unlimited net but u cant install anything and since i dont have flash and cant install it i cant view flash animations such as youtube videos .. but facebook and msn are working .. even blogger 😀

  • I can see how a web site like Ammon could cause workers in Jordan to spend considerable amounts of time away from work. It’s not just a news site, it has a comments section too that people (including me) will always at least sift through.

    I wonder if it would be possible for companies that want to block even news web sites to at least find a way to get the employees RSS feeds from those news sites (excluding comment feeds).

  • That’s really sad, it hurts me to hear that, some companies even block Wikipedia in Jordan!
    At the office, there are no internet limitations, we also have a big LCD TV and Playstation, and i know the small team we have is efficient. As Nadine said, it is a management and work environment problem and people can waste their time doing other stuff.
    I always get shocked when i hear that Ikbis and other sites are blocked, even the University of Jordan blocked Ikbis, when art student were handing in their work through the site.
    So watch out, if your site becomes popular in a company, it will be blocked!

  • “Also, does prohibiting an activity that induces idle-time, only push an idle-worker to find another activity to fill his or her time?”

    Totally. I really don’t think internet news website is the primary reason beyond employment inproductivity. If it’s not net news sites it’ll be something else. Noone is 100% productive all the time but if there’s a recurrent issue with productivity then that specific cause should be addressed (i.e. why are the workers so unmotivated?)

    This sounds like something a principal will do to school children and not a mayor to government workers.

  • Hideous government style of management! Wait a second, do they call it public administration??
    They need new blood in management! Big brother style doesn’t work anymore, at least not in such issues.

  • Perhaps capacity building is a better strategy. Empowering good supervisors, team leaders, middle managers.

    that’s where I would start…

  • If one’s work doesn’t NEED internet connection for his job he simply shouldn’t have one to begin with!
    I just don’t understand why people are crying over this. It is not your right to waste time at work…You are being paid to actually work not just to show us your smile…

    …Or lack thereof 🙂 7allel Gershak as it is said…

    Don’t get me wrong, no one can be productive 100% of the time, that’s given, and I actually admire work places which don’t take themselves too seriously (Like George above, having a playstation for the workers is a great idea) because this environment actually raises morale and encourages productivity however reading newspapers and online chats are just a waste of time and bandwidth that your employer actually PAID for!

    And for the sake of full disclosure I am writing this from my work computer which is annoying me not my boss, but after begging for something to do I am still “workless”

  • For some reason or another ,Maani take the initiative to blog websites,but he never will block corruption in his department..

  • Nas, I guess I would take a slightly different view on this. The reality is that in order to have people who are responsible enough to handle things like internet connectivity without widespread abuse, you need to first change the culture. Cultural change in organizations is a long, drawn-out, and painful process. In an organization the size and nature of GAM, it will be even more challenging. They are working on this, but it isn’t the work of a day. And, while management is the foundation of what is needed, you may have noticed that few Jordanian companies have compentent (much less excellent) management. Unfortunately, culturally there seems to be a trend of people pushing to become managers because that’s when they get to sit back and do nothing (I offer as one point of evidence my bank branch where everyone is overloaded, trying to keep up with the rush and the manager is busy getting coffee).

    Will these people find other ways to waste time, yes. However, while you are changing both the management and worker mentality, I can absolutely understand blocking particularly popular time-wasters (and bandwidth stealers, frankly). After all, if everyone is out using Ammon, they’re stealing bandwidth from the one guy who’s actually trying to use the internet for work…

    By the way, you see the same type of conversations in American companies. However, overall the concept of work in the US is more professional. Given that most Americans start working in high school or college, we’ve had lots of experience in how doing something stupid like spending 90% of your time on the computer will get you fired. First you have to build the professional responsibility and ability to handle the freedom. Then, start giving the freedom.

    Oh, and I’m with Hameed on this one. Just go ahead and take away internet access unless it’s actually needed for the job until you’ve built the managerial and professional attitudes :).

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