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This is my personal blog which I began in February 2001. I called it The Obvious? when I wrote anonymously and chose the name to reflect the fact I have to overcome my inhibitions about stating the obvious!

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Me and Linkedin

Chris Brogan blogged recently about his decision to close his Linkedin account. This got me thinking, yet again, about whether I should do the same. 

I have been in Linked in for nine years, having been user number 1400 or so out of 100 million. It is useful for keeping up to date with the people I know's changes of circumstance but little more.

I keep trying to get involved in the various Linkedin groups I am a member of but a few things drive me away.

The first is the interface which throws away nearly thirty years of experience with online forums and either doesn't do, or does badly, most of the basics of online discussions.

The second is the feeling that it is slipping into the Ecademy nightmare of desperate out of work consultants pouncing on corporate folks like piranhas seeing meat. Many otherwise interesting threads end up either spammy or "me too". 

Ironically the third thing that drives me away is the thing that I suspect makes it appealing to others. It is too safe and too corporate. It feels bland and lifeless. Despite having no great affection for Facebook I spend more time in there because at least the discussions are more free flowing and lively. 

Unlike Chris I am going to keep my account, and make the most of having a self updating address book, but it is a shame it never became more for me.  

Reader Comments (8)

Whilst I use it for little more than an address book, it's a massively scaled and networked address book, and that's what makes it so useful as a service. Discussions - well, occasionally (and we're finding it's useful for private groups) - but there is a plethora of places for discussion. No where else does the address book thing quite like it.

It was brought home to me a few years back when the company I then worked for outsourced a large swathe of its IT department. Overnight people were either cut out of internal people information systems, or the data was made meaningless (for example - all 500 staff impacted appeared to "report" to one of two vendor management people on the host company's Active Directory address book). That was the point I realised that managing people and relationship data in any place other than a third-party service was crackers in this age of virtual organisations.

So it's an address book. Let's not knock that - it's a great address book!

May 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Ballantine

Agreed - but it could have been more!

May 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterEuan

I have been out of work for a while as a result of illness and I never felt comfortable with LinkedIn because it does not value the experiences I have learned to value as a result of having time out. LinkedIn seems to be built for people who have never taken a break. My life is not like that.

There are lots of other people in the same boat. The rigid format of sites like LinkedIn do not necessarily help such people present their skills and capabilities in the best possible way. A rigid format may draw attention to a career gap but you may want to emphasise the work you have done to date and the skills you have at the moment.

My own hunch is this. I think career returners like are probably better off creating small online groups to provide each other with peer support. I am aiming to do this with people I already know. A computer scientist gave me a list of collaborative tools which I could use for free and I am experimenting with these tools. I want to use them for groups of people who already meet in real life and such networks will never have the fame or status of bigger networks like LinkedIn but I have a hunch that a small group focused on the needs of the group might serve us better than an account on an anonymous network of millions of people who do not really know each other at all.

May 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeatrice Bray

Spot on Beatrice. Even the categories of relationships when you first try to connect with someone in Linkedin feel wrong. Funnily enough I am advising a startup building just the sort of solution you describe ...

May 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterEuan

Whist I agree that the platform basically fails as an online discussion forum its position as The Professional Network i.e. the one to which contains and connects most of the people I need to connect to makes it really useful for other services.

We use a combination of Rapportive / Google Apps / Batchbook to run Whitefuse. Connecting all these services particularly through Linkedin provides instant info and the opportunity to connect through Rapportive. Perhaps this is more the future for Linkedin - like the RSS of professional social networking?

May 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrispin Read


The endless quest for revenues 'ruins' so very many things online (just a personal opinion). There are other ways (I believe) to go about finding revenue that do not involve annoying, intruding on or basically ignoring people once they register for something online.

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJon Husband

I have had many frustrations with LinkedIn over the years. I even posted a 2 part explaination of what they were doing well and that they really missed and didn't (often still don't) grasp (http://www.personalinfocloud.com/2009/02/linkedin-social-interaction-design-lessons-learned-not-to-follow-1-of-2.html).

I used to leave LinkedIn used to be an always open tab in my browser. Now I check it occasionally, when I am connecting with someone I have not talked with in a while about work. I also use it to connect after meeting people, which is much better than Facebook for things work related.

Their connection interaction design is broken at times and at times you end up in the LinkedIn dog house where you can not connect to anybody unless you have their email address. Yes, an email address in a day when Twitter and Facebook connections often trump any exchange of email addresses. The world changed on LinkedIn's model and LinkedIn hasn't quite sorted that one out quite yet.

LinkedIn's groups are not places I have ever found pleasant and have been missing the usual helpful group interaction constructs that have been around for 10 to 20 years.

Thanks for the post. I'm keeping my account as the value out ways the utter pain and frustration not only the loss of great value they have squandered, but the difficulty in doing the needed.

May 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commentervanderwal

I think LinkedIn reflects the corporate world. Don't shoot the messenger. Most of the comments about it could more usefully be considered comments about the corporate world.
It appears to be considered 'safe' by the corporate world, unlike (I hope) Facebook, which makes it a valuable asset.

May 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrianSJ

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