Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tools? The Purpose of Social Media

Image courtesy of Wired Magazine.

by Jamie Crawley, AIA, LEED AP
Hamilton & Associates
TSA New Media Committee

How many times have you heard (or told) the following story? 
“…I remember when you could only take the licensing exam once a year…and it certainly wasn’t given on a computer. You had to really draw!”

Well, times and technology continue to evolve (and I’ll admit I still like hearing the story), but today architects are venturing into another new digital realm: social media. Many view this landscape of internet marketing, social networks, tweets, and meet-up groups as a matrix - unfamiliar, unfocused, and without purpose. The intention of the  “Purpose of Social Media for Architects” seminar at the upcoming Texas Society of Architects Convention is to dispel some of the myths, illustrate tools for navigating Web 2.0, and provide techniques for engagement with a broader network of peers, clients, and allied professionals. Discussions with a panel of four architects (@falloutstudio/@abadi_access / @bobborson / @hpdarchitecture ) will attempt to dismantle the myths, generate dialogue, and ultimately empower attendees to utilize social media to achieve real-world business objectives. The revolution has already started, and it's only 140 characters in length!

Whether its Twitter, Facebook, blogs, meet-up groups, rss feeds, discussion forums, Flickr albums, or the trending application of the moment, these are all just tools--tools architects need to know and utilize in their modern practice. I still draw every day in a sketchbook that I carry alongside my iphone, and I feel just as comfortable working on an Apple or pc-based CAD system – all tools, all part of an evolving practice.

Peers have asked “Why is this topic so important?” There are several things to consider, but I will highlight two core concepts: relevance and dialogue. One of our panelists indicated to me that the reason they became immersed in the social media learning curve was out of fear of becoming irrelevant and not being able to communicate in an evolving digital practice. Sound familiar? No more drawing on the boards, now we look over someone’s shoulder at colored lines on a monitor and later at a building information model on a handheld device at a job site… We are in an eternally optimistic profession that revels in sharing our theories and work, often in dialogue with ourselves. But, the advent and proliferation of social networks allows us to engage a broader dialogue, filtering the stream of irrelevant information and building networks of actual people with thoughts, feelings, and ideas -- about us, our companies, and the world around us. Interested?

There is a new LinkedIn group called Social Media for Architects that will act as an online threaded dialogue, populated by the panelists as well as many others interested and immersed in this new social web. Additionally, the hash tag #TSAConv on Twitter will provide a live, filtered dialogue about things going on at the TSA Convention. Seeing is believing, and I welcome your input in advance of the seminar (Comment here on the TSA blog or via the LinkedIn group). I encourage your attendance. See you in San Antonio!

I promise the panelists are pretty lively, just saying.

***Jamie Crawley, AIA, LEED AP is the Director of Architecture for Hamilton & Associates and is a member of the TSA New Media Committee. On twitter: @falloutstudio and @ha_architecture ***


Laura Davis, AIA said...

Great post, Jamie. Correct me if I'm a little off in this comparison... CAD did for drafting what social media is doing for the company website and brochures. It's making the conversation about architecture sharable, interactive, personable, immediate, and global. This is not the social site that your teenager gets on after school to buy and sell things in Farmville. This is a valuable way to build your company brand and reach potential clients. I look forward to hearing the discussion and participating in the panel. See you in San Antonio!

Jamie Crawley, AIA said...

Thanks Laura. I believe your analogy could even be expanded to highlight: all businesses (including architects) seek to create ongoing and valuable relationships with their clients, consultants, their peers and the public -- for referrals, repeat business and good results (i.e. design that matters.) Social Media at its core (and at its best)is a dialogue. The change is the immediacy and reach but the core objectives are the same...merely evolving tools in the toolbox, just like CAD and BIM.