Today I decided to sign up to LinkedIn. A couple of years ago, I might’ve been a little more reluctant to join a professional social utility. Where are all the photos from last Friday? Is Friend A definitely still in a relationship with LoveRat B? Can I not even ‘poke’ anyone?!
Linked In, according to a comparative article against Facebook written by Papacharissi, is a ‘business-oriented social networking site.’ Its focus is on generating a ‘network of contacts to maintain communications, trade information and refer each other.’
The potential of such a utility has been nationally acknowledged according to journalist Whitehead. Membership in the UK alone has hit around 3m as victims of the unemployment crisis invest their hope in Linkedin. Software company Micro Focus has the same trust in the network, creating a group as part of a government supported manifesto to create 250,000 jobs in technology this week.
New Media theorists like Castells might find this ironic: phasing out the manual worker in favour of technology is ‘a centuries old fear’ which has been realised time and time again. Can innovation in this same field really offer a solution? Blogger O’ Carroll makes the prospect look bleak: LinkedIn itself is allegedly cutting 36 jobs in the UK office.
Papacharissi does conclude, however, that LinkedIn lends itself far more for those with professional goals than purely social ones. The pages and profiles are ‘more static’ and without the tools to entice ‘fláneuring.’
Facebook encourages users to snoop through user profiles, whilst expressing a more ‘flamboyant’ self with the use of ‘props’/applications such as food-fight or super-poke. I would never consider throwing a virtual guinea-pig at a potential employer and, with LinkedIn, that danger doesn’t arise.
However, as the Groundswell team warn, ‘social technologies are social’; distinguishing between being an individual and representing a company requires some practice, just ask anyone in PR or Communications.