Summary: architects, landscape designers and construction engineers are finding new ways to herd on the internet. Social media are maturing and their users are self-policing. They’re making professional use of online information more relevant, reliable and time-efficient.
An interesting post doing the rounds: KDPaine’s PR Measurement Blog: Social Media is Making Measurement More Vertical. In short, it discusses the importance of sector-specific information on the internet.
The notion of online communities was always held up as a virtuous principle in website design. The reality for online publishers has often been more prosaic, especially as dotcom-bubble idealism gave way to the urgent need for sustainable business models.
More recently, though, the basic commercial building blocks have bedded in. Robust business-to-consumer and business-to-business websites have found their feet, search technologies have become more sophisticated, and user interfaces have become more intuitive.
So, the possibility of web-based networks has returned to the foreground, albeit in different forms to those anticipated a few years ago. Now they’re usually characterised by behaviour that people have developed in their leisure time migrating to their professional practices.
In the architecture, landscape design and construction professions, social media models are starting to provide effective lines of communication. Linkedin professional groups, Twitter lists, the nascent Construction Network (tCn), Google Wave, YouTube product demonstrations and other facilities have a self-organising quality that means the useful flourish while the useless flounder.
Professional Twitter users, for example, are impatient and vocal when it comes to heavy-handed co-opting by marketeers. Interaction, conversation and informed personal opinion are seen as valuable. Overuse of shortened links and piggy-backing press releases on tweets and blog posts are taking on the same kind of stigma as spam emails. But here they are punishable by ‘unfollowing’.
More generally, the emerging use of social media for work is a tonic against some of the internet’s less practical traits. When an architect, designer or engineer needs relevant and reliable information quickly, general web searches can throw up information overload. Fragmented, anonymous and unaccountable data are not a basis for professional decisions or commercial transactions.
And while indexing by search engines and web crawlers might continue to improve exponentially, an online equivalent to word-of-mouth recommendations will provide an interesting human-scale check.