On Friday afternoon I’ll be live blogging the Honest Buildings debate about Architects and the Internet that I mentioned in my post last week.
It’s a small, exclusive event as far as the venue is concerned, at the Open Data Institute, where Honest Buildings are based in the UK. But we expect it to be a much larger event online than face to face. Already 21 people have mentioned the event on twitter, you can see what they are saying here and join in using the #webarchitects hashtag.
The main part of the event is a panel debate where we have asked some interesting industry figures and thinkers to come together and discuss their thoughts about how architects are using the internet, what they do themselves, and how they think it might develop.
But of course as this is social media, we want to hear from more than just the panel, we want to hear from you. So here is an opportunity for you to answer the questions, and perhaps to ask your own.
- Do you use the internet in your work?
- Why do you use the internet in your work?
- What benefits have you had from using the internet – tangible or intangible (i.e. contacts, leads, business, information, opportunities)?
- How do you measure the benefits you get – if you measure, what do you measure?
- What tools do you use online, and why?
- Have you changed your mind about the internet, about social media? What has surprised you the most?, and finally
- If you could ask the panel what question, what would it be?
Please feel free to answer all or any of these questions in your own way, in the comments below and online using the twitter hashtag #webarchitects in your tweets so we can pick them up. We’ll share a selection of the answers, and your questions, on Friday. We’ll be listening!
Su Butcher says
Interesting link to a survey by Darryl Store:
I’m surprised that so many architects (note they are not the only participants in the survey) have unrestricted access to social platforms, but would be interested to hear your experience.
Su Butcher says
Darryl’s survey (set back in February) asked respondents what access their company IT department gave them to social media sites.
We’ve set up a new version of it, with a few extra questions.
Please take a minute to complete the survey here:
AEC Social Media Policy Survey v2
You can see the results after you’ve completed the survey, and can check back later to see how they change.
I’ve been using the Internet for many years to get product information, but I don’t think that’s unusual.
I have a Twitter account, but I have yet to see the value. I’m too busy to watch the feed, and most of the tweets are meaningless unless the contained links are opened. The already limited space is often used for hashtags and handles, forcing the sender to use abbreviations, and that’s before leaving the recommended twenty characters for retweeting. Many tweets are simply a few people having a discussion, further clogging the feed; why not use e-mail or, better yet, use the phone and get the job done.
Some claim tweet chats (if that’s the right term) at seminars are fabulous, but I don’t understand why. They’re typically just a collection of phrases from the presentation, side conversations, funny comments, irrelevant thoughts, and what I’m sure are considered profound comments.
The Storify summaries that follow, at least the ones I have seen, rarely are edited to remove the extraneous comments, and don’t make use of the ability to add other information from the web. Far better would be a well-written report that summarized the main points and offered a brief analysis.
Su Butcher says
Thanks so much for commenting on this post, I welcome your insights, and its always particularly exciting to have a completely new contributor.
I’m sorry to hear that your experience of Twitter has been somewhat frustrating. Twitter doesn’t make it easy for people to understand how to find value in it, which is something that frustrates me! I hope that other readers of this blog might share their ideas about how this can be overcome. I also hope our activity tomorrow might change your mind about Storify…as with all of these tools, they can be used to waste time and obfuscate, as well as to save time and illuminate.
I notice you’re a blogger – indeed looking back in the archives I see you posted up an article about online collaboration that you wrote way back in 1999! Do you still use online tools to collaborate? Collaboration is a continuing subject over here in the UK, especially given our increasingly dispersed workforce.
I’m following you on Twitter and would introduce you to Paul Wilkinson, modern collaboration software is one of his specialisms.
Your blogs are a treasure trove of insight and expertise, and its good to see a strong community around them, and elsewhere online. Thank you for your comment Sheldon, and welcome.
Im interested in how our industry can utilize social media to cultivate business, but I have share some of the same thoughts as Sheldon. Recently however I’ve been exposed to many architects developing a networking community through social media and podcasting. Leaders such as @buildllc @EntreArchitect @BusinessofArch are having these conversations right now.
Su Butcher says
Thanks Max, and thanks for sharing those twitter accounts. There is a growing group of people talking about how architects can get business online, which is great. I hope some of you will join us this afternoon 4-6pm (or this morning over in the US – 11am-1pm EST) to debate these issues.
Liz Walder says
Not sure that I’m properly qualified to answer these questions (as [email protected] not an architect), but what I can tell you is that the architects that I know here in Wales, that’s the ones who are aged 40 +, are not keen on spending time learning how to write websites and engage in social media. They just can’t see the benefits that social media and online communication can bring them. When I’ve shared that the twitter campaign that I ran in 2011 raised financial support for the conference (via Su Butcher and bulthaup), their mouths have generally dropped open in amazement.
But then on the other hand, I know architects who are in their 60s and can’t manage email and have no idea about social media at all.
Su Butcher says
Lol Liz that’s true!
And you’re being very modest, you know hundreds of architects..
Its a continuing bugbear isn’t it. How do you find the time and money to market your business. How do you learn how to do it effectively?
I was looking back at some of the posts I’ve written in recent years about this subject last night, and came across this one
‘A Businesslike Practice vs Design Quality – how to get both’
which refers to evidence that architects spend much too little time and resource on marketing and business development.
I think this attitude creates a vicious circle.
If your practice is so busy trying to deliver and not stepping back and looking at the business, you won’t be able to see beyond the end of your nose, won’t see the dry periods coming, and certainly won’t be in a position to do anything about it.
If you can make the space to work on your business, you can identify gaps in your abilities, find ways to fill them (with outside help, or even finding the person in the office who is good at it) and start generating more profitable work, which will make more time for you to do the same.
Those solutions don’t have to be more time consuming, they an actually save you time. For example,
– when your client says thank you, if they do it on Linkedin they are telling everyone they know what a great job you did;
– when you put your actual expertise on a site like Honest Buildings, potential commercial clients who know nothing about you can be matched with that expertise without you having to do anything else.
This afternoon we’re hoping to hear many more examples of how architects can and are using the internet in profitable ways – whether it be time saving, lead generating or money making.
Bruce Stonehouse says
Hello Su: I’m not an architect but I did study architecture in university as part of a fine arts degree. Not surprising,there are a number of architects mainly in the U.S.A. who are champions in social media. Much to my delight they develop and distribute materials on a daily and weekly basis. Through the wise and creative use of Tweets, blogs and posts they reach out to a broad international audience and always encourage feedback. My assumption is that most are employed in smaller firms and practices. They address a variety of topics re: Architecture: history, community planning, current trends and issues, education, employment, leadership etc. All topics fall clearly under the title of public education and awareness and therefore certainly give the receiver like myself great benefits. I’m not certain what advantage there is for the architect other than sharpening and honing their skills and creative powers. But in my view their social consciousness does not go unnoticed and elevates the posture of their profession.
Also I believe there are many other architects out there that would be worthwhile hearing from. These are the folks that are fully occupied designing and building yet may not have the resources but they do have so much to share with us: e.g., successes, innovation, new products and services, and meaningful lessons from history. However their practices are not big enough to hire communications staff. Perhaps they would benefit from a special app and/or consulting services to develop their messages and reach out to new audiences while raising their profile in the community they serve.
Thanks Su and I certain hope your conference yields a rich crop of ideas and solutions.
Su Butcher says
Thanks so much for this comment. You’re absolutely right, it is good to hear from architects at the ‘coal face’. I hope you found my writeup useful in this regard, and that it will bring more insight from that group.
Many thanks for sharing the post with your network in the US too.
Tara Imani says
Here is my gargantuan response (the good, the bad, and the ugly) to your questions from above:
Friday, July 26, 2013
Su Butcher’s questions for the Honest Buildings survey:
1. Do you use the internet in your work?
This assumes one is working at a paid gig. Either way, yes I use the Internet when I have work, to find work, to communicate with work teams, and to find the latest information and techniques to stay ahead in my profession/ industry. #Aec
2. Why do you use the internet in your work?
I don’t think it’s possible to accomplish much work without it. If I need to communicate with a building department and get the results of my plans submittal, everything is now online and the agencies encourage that as the initial point of contact. Researching for design projects and selecting materials is easily done online. Being a tactile person, I still prefer to browse the local design center to see what’s new. Colors vary on different computer devices, so a tangible piece of fabric is a must, for ex.
3. What benefits have you had from using the internet – tangible or intangible (i.e. contacts, leads, business, information, opportunities)?
For me personally, it has bridged the gap between knowing what’s going on in my field versus being out in left field or totally out of the loop.
After the Great Recession, I happened along Facebook, then found AIA KnowledgeNet on the http://www.aia.org website and decided to become interactive on LinkedIn to get my online resume up to par. I credit an AIA- led tweet chat on Twitter (that I found out about via another architect’s blog) for my joining Twitter (which has been and still is my favorite social media platform for the quality of communications and efficiency it supports. From Twitter interactions and links, I’ve learned and utilized such platforms as Slideshare.com, About.me, Architizer, Houzz, etc…
On LinkedIn, I met an author who solicited me to co-author a book with him on architecture.
Via Twitter, I’ve hired two emerging architects on a per project basis to assist me with getting two projects successfully completed last fall 2012.
From contacts I’ve made online via Twitter, I’ve made new IRL (in real life) friends that I’ve met up with at professional conferences.
4. How do you measure the benefits you get – if you measure, what do you measure?
I am not concerned strictly with monetary ROI as much as I am in meeting new people, learning new things, and researching many topics that relate to architecture.
Our field, like most other fields, has been going through a huge transition and social media has been the primary way I’ve been able to connect the dots, make sense out of what’s happening, and find new ways to employ my capabilities.
For example, through AIA KnowledgeNet, I was able to blog about my ideas regarding the changes affecting our profession; one of my posts was number one for months and has had over 4000 views or more to date. And this put me on the radar and empowered me to request an invitation to the coveted Design Future’s Council leadership conference held annually in La Jolla, CA. I was invited to participate in their January 2011 conference where I met Biosphere creator Jane Poynter, DFC fellow Michael Schrage, former AIA president and DFC and http://www.di.net founder James Cramer, and the CEO of OldCastle Building Products to name a few. It was a thrilling experience.
Since then, I’ve made many connections with high profile people– mostly on Twitter– such as Tom Peters, Kathy Ireland, and Julie Morgenstern who all follow me (huge ego strokes ;)).
To me, Twitter is the only platform where ideas are shared freely and intelligently without rash judgment.
5. What tools do you use online, and why?
The line is getting blurred between what is a tool, an app, a software program, and the person performing the work. I recently joined Instagram (mainly because many of my interior design friends and colleagues were there and I wanted to see how it was being used). It is like a mini Facebook– all pictures with minimal yet meaningful texts/posts. And it’s not only all pictures compared to Pinterest (which I am on, too, but seldom use thus far because it is not interactive enough for me).
I require feedback in my online interactions. Relationships are a two-way street– even and especially online.
I am serving on a new media committee and one of our main assignments is to research various apps that architects use. There are so many: Revu by Bluebeam for editing PDFs, Dropbox, GotoMeeting, and now the mega firm SOM has joined with CASE, Inc out of NYC to create a website strictly for architecture-related apps. I think its Twitter handle is @AEC_APPS. My Twitter handle is @Parthenon1.
I am currently using Yahoo email but prefer Outlook for it’s filing capacity. However, today during the @honestbuilding’s tweetchat under hashtag #WebArchitects, I learned of what might be an even better email filing platform via an extranet that I am going to check out. (Readers can check your @Storify version of today’s chat to find out the name).
6. Have you changed your mind about the internet, about social media? What has surprised you the most?
In the faraway past, I had been bothered by email requests inviting me to join LinkedIn and I had the impression that MySpace was pure evil and only 19-25 year olds used “social media”– kind of a hyper “me- generation” activity.
But, after joining LinkedIn and getting involved in the professional group forums, I began to see the benefit of social media. In fact, I didn’t refer to it as such. I always felt I was working, researching, networking, getting stuff done, helping others and myself, learning about new technology, work methods, and economy-related changes, and most importantly engaging in the Grand Conversation.
Some of my most enjoyable and fruitful conversations have been on LinkedIn forums such as the AIA’s forum and the group forums run by Architect magazine. One book recommendation thread that I created was catapulted to Manager’s Choice and remained active for over 1-1/2 years.
One let down that I experienced when comparing online living to IRL face to face engagements was on a recent job interview. I’d done my online research but was still blindsided when the firm told me they had not transitioned to BIM/Revit as their clients’ projects precluded they remain with AutoCAD software. After being online continuously since 2010, I was of the impression that most of the bigger firms had adopted BIM, but this simply is not the case. Better to not make broad assumptions nor think that everyone is as up-to-date as people are who post on Twitter (see: @randydeutsch).
7. If you could ask the panel what question, what would it be?
Why are you hosting this chat? What is your main goal?
As I see it, firms and sole practitioners are still in competition with one another (as it should be) and, as such, cannot afford to give their intellectual capital away freely online to just anyone.
Social media for architects will best serve us when we can learn how to harness interactions with potential clients and have more transparent, helpful conversations with the general public on real world issues that matter to all of us.
Thank you for your time and efforts toward this new way of communicating with one another.
Tara Imani, AIA, CSI
Su Butcher says
Thanks so much for putting this together. I’m sure it has served as a thought provoking read for many already. I also appreciate your participation in our debate online, we hope it will help to shed light on where architects are at the moment in their use of this technology, and encourage others to take it seriously and investigate how it might benefit them.
The internet helps the Architects as much as it helps everyone. It helps them build ideas and informations that they might have forgotten.