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Social Media and Architects

About Jody Brown, AIA, Leed AP BD+C: Jody Brown is an AIA architect member running INFILL, pllc. in Durham, North Carolina. INFILL, pllc. is an architectural and development firm specializing in urban infill projects, mixed-use, urban design, and urban renewal, with a strong dedication towards revitalizing the urban environment. In his remaining time, Jody blogs about his ideals at www.coffeewithanarchitect.com or finds time for coffee with someone at a coffee shop near you. He's probably that geeky guy over in the corner yammering on about Le Corbusier. Nice glasses though. 

Learn more about Jody Brown, Blogger and Architect.

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Social media has become pervasive in our global society. What do you see as the benefits towards this move to digital networking and online communications? What about any drawbacks?

Actually I don’t see Social media in terms of benefits or drawbacks… I just see it as another form of communication. I try not to think about the pros and cons of it, or worry about crafting a social media marketing approach–actually I’d have no idea what that is anyway. I just try to talk to people. I try to tell my own story and I ask people to share their own.

When the public thinks about what an architect does, leadership and advocacy may not come to mind. What is one way social media can help educate people on the full scope of an architect’s role in society?

Not only do leadership and advocacy not come to mind with people, they rarely have any idea what an Architect does at all.

I don’t think Architects have done a good job of telling our stories. In fact (in my opinion), I think Architects have slowly faded into the background of society. We’re just resting in our Charles Eames chair, wearing our round glasses, and waiting on the phone to ring. We rarely take a leadership role in our communities. We aren’t shaping the development in our cities. We’re not fully engaged with the public conscience at all. I’m afraid that we’ve comfortably resigned ourselves to being defined by other people’s ideas and passions.

This all became clear to me a few years ago when I was laid off along with 30%-40% of my fellow Architects. Suddenly, the intrinsic value of Architecture seemed in question to me. So, I’ve spent the last 2 years rebuilding my own image, starting my own practice, volunteering in my community, blogging about my ideals at www.coffeewithanarchitect.com, and doing everything I can to talk to people about the value of Architects.

Social media has become a platform for this conversation; you’d be surprised how many of us are going through the same challenges. Losing my job may have been the best thing that ever happened in my career.

What are your favorite social networking sites, and why?

I’m afraid I’ve totally fallen for Twitter. It’s just like Facebook except without the people you know. Someone said that Twitter makes you like people that you don’t know, and Facebook makes you stop liking people that you do know. I think that’s about right. I don’t need to know how many cows my 3rd cousin has in “Farmville.”

LinkedIn is a glorified resume, but the groups can be interesting at times. But, there’s just something about the casual conversational format of Twitter that makes it easy to find people with common interests and “meet” interesting people.

I’ve been amazed at the generosity and sheer fabulousness of all my Twitter friends. But, I’m totally not addicted to it... Hey, you can follow me @INFILLnc!

What is the AIA doing in terms of social media that you feel is valuable? What are some areas of improvement?

I’ve been pleased to see the AIA become more active in Social media over the last few years. I’ve sat in on a few of the AIA chats on Twitter, I joined in on some great conversations on the AIA group on LinkedIn, and I’ve lurked around the AIA’s Facebook page occasionally. But honestly, the Architects are slow to join in.

Maybe the AIA could help convince us that social media isn’t a fad, it is the place where the public is talking about their lives. Architects should be interested in joining that conversation.

And for fun: Your Facebook page… anything on there we shouldn’t know or see?

Oh, I’m sure there is… Last week I posted a photo of the broken candy cane cookies I made and a picture of the blanket fort my boys built in the living room. I think if you dig in there far enough you’ll find a picture of me wearing a big bow tie and a beer hat with fireworks in the background… maybe, I don’t really want to talk about that.

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“Maybe the AIA could help convince us that social media isn’t a fad, it is the place where the public is talking about their lives. Architects should be interested in joining that conversation.”

— Jody Brown, AIA

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