In response to: On not taking LinkedIn too seriously by Andy Matthews

Andy’s post. Firstly, I’m not saying there’s any harm in having some fun with your LinkedIn profile page, and so salute the endorsements that you’ve collected for Laughter Yoga, Dogs and Making Coffee.

But I think your frustration with LinkedIn posing the question “Does Andy know about Architecture?” is giving the automated system too much credit and getting in the way of what it actually achieves.

It’s not asking the question consciously, with any decent awareness of the fact that you actually are a fully qualified Architect. Nor does it comprehend how difficult it is to train as an Architect. And I very much doubt it has any inkling of Section 20 of the Architects Act:

(1) A person shall not practise or carry on business under any name, style or title containing the word “architect” unless he is a person registered under this Act.

Architecture is an edge case profession that simply falls outside of the softly crowdsourced method of endorsement that LinkedIn has implemented in this feature.

It doesn’t intend to disrespect or qualify you with the endorsements it lists, but rather to show how your professional peers view and rate your entire skill set. It’s about endorsements after all, not qualifications.

Let’s put ‘Architect’ to one side for a moment and use another example: The word I have to deal with (as previously moaned about): ‘Designer’.

Having graduated as a Graphic Designer, I described myself as one for a few years, before realising I wasn’t that specialised / narrow. I did graphic, user, experience and even just general design. I designed, decorated, adorned, planned, created, tweaked and made, things. And stuff.

In short, I didn’t know which flavour of ‘design’ title suited me, until recently, and thanks to LinkedIn endorsements / my peers. Firstly, Graphic Design doesn’t even feature in my list.

Number 3 on my profile page, with 7 votes, is ‘User Experience’, and along with ‘User Interface’ which also features on my list, I happily hold my hand up.

Number 2 endorsement, with 11 votes, funnily enough, is ‘Information Architecture’ which I remember hearing ‘real’ Architects like yourself getting quite angry about once for Section 20 reasons.

Personally, if I was told it was illegal to say I did that, then fine, but let’s be realistic for the record and make clear that ‘Information Architecture’ uses the word almost metaphorically and does not for a second expect anything like the credit awarded to a ‘proper’ Architect.

Back to the chart and my number 1 endorsement on LinkedIn: ‘Interaction Design’. Something I’ve never introduced myself as or written on a business card or added to an email signature. But it’s actually pretty spot on.

That 18 of my peers have attributed that definition to me then is great, and it’s actually helped me punctuate the fact that I’m not a Graphic Designer but that I’m recognised for a kind of design I actually enjoy.

The point is, you may well be an Architect by qualification and years clocked, but people click that button because they think you’re good at it. If you were shit, they wouldn’t click, and all you’d have would be a CV saying one thing, and group of people that you respect, passively encouraging you to spend more time on your Yoga practice!

People aren’t clicking my Graphic Design button for this exact reason. In support of my personal dislike of the practice, it’s a message that I’m not actually all that good at it, despite what it say on the certificate my Mum has on her wall (sorry Mum).

I think these endorsements then are more about peer review than an attempt to qualify us academically. A supportive nod from people we know. Which is where your more irreverent entires come back into play perfectly, because if I had a dog, I would totally trust you with it. I clicked that button for real!