Yesterday, in my short overview of the Web 2.0 practices of the main UK architecture, engineering and construction trade weeklies, I said that Architects’ Journal only appeared to have one Twitter user. Today, it seems almost the whole architecture profession has been somewhat slow to try out Twitter too.
Over the past couple of weeks, Su Butcher, a practice manager at East Anglian firm Barefoot & Gilles, has laboriously been compiling a list of architects (or architects’ practices) that Twitter – there are only about a dozen each in the UK and US and three in the rest of the world (though I expect Su will get some additional notifications over the days and weeks ahead). Based on this list, Su has also created the first Architects’ Twitter League, showing the most followed users. Some are clearly recent converts and have become frequent Tweeters; others appear to have dabbled a bit then drifted away, hardly making an impression at all….
Elsewhere, Staci Ford, who runs the Construction Twitter group has a list that is currently only 92-strong (by the way, this figure doesn’t include all the architects in Su’s list either).
Other AEC Tweeps
Using Tweepsearch, I did some searches for other architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) professions and some tradesmen (admittedly, the searches probably only applied to profiles written in English, but Tweepsearch has indexed over half a million profiles) and with a bit of filtering of non-relevant Tweeps, found (in no particular order):
- Quantity Surveyor (QS) = 2
- Building services engineer = 2
- Construction lawyer = 7
- Estimator = 9
- Structural engineer = 13
- Construction manager = 26
- Civil engineer = 70
- Mechanical engineer = 100 (only a few working in construction, though)
- Electrical engineer = 110 (as above)
- General contractor = 19
- Subcontractor = 1
- Bricklayer = 1
- Plasterer = 4
- Electrician = 30 (again, not all construction people)
- Plumber = 26 (excluding ‘digital plumber’, etc)
Ok, just a snapshot (and there may be AEC people using Twitter whose professions aren’t part of their profiles), but it does suggest that take-up of this Web 2.0 tool has only just about scratched the surface in the AEC sector.
AEC to go bonkers?
At a London conference (The Future of Social Media) today, a speaker from Orange apparently told delegates (including Phil Clark) that “Twitter will go bonkers this year” (see #fosm search). The Hudson River plane crash and recent celebrity exposure for Twitter (Jonathan Ross, Stephen Fry, even Richard & Judy) has apparently stimulated a surge in UK Twitter traffic, so it may yet become more mainstream.
However, I don’t expect Twitter to go bonkers this year in the construction sector.
- First, too many AEC businesses are battening down the hatches, shedding staff and struggling to stay afloat; the last thing on their minds will be learning to use a new form of social media (ditto, SaaS – see post).
- Second, to many construction people, despite its daily role in their everyday working lives (from mobile phone to email, etc) information and communication technology (ICT) is a necessary evil, to be endured rather than enjoyed.
- Third, to lots of people, social media will be something that is used – as that term suggests – for social purposes. Yesterday I outlined how the AEC media, influential in opinion-forming, are turning to Web 2.0 approaches, but it will take time for AEC people to notice, learn about and begin to use these tools for work-related purposes, and other industry organisations need to be seen to adopting them too.
- Finally, social media smacks of collaboration: too many people in the construction industry suffer from what I’ve termed ‘Collabora-phobia’.
(PS: Not sure if the events are connected, but since yesterday’s post about the UK AEC media, I’ve picked up a Twitter follower, @mhconstruction, from McGraw-Hill construction publications in the USA. Welcome, Lisa!)