Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Social Media Community

I expanded my social media horizons last October by signing up for Twitter. Since then, I’ve been amazed by how active and vibrant the design and construction community is online. It isn’t just Twitter of course. I previously marveled at the huge number of blogs about architecture. There’s also LinkedIn. And AIA’s Knowledge Communities and CSI’s member forums are the places to go when you need to find others who share your interests or questions regarding professional practice.

The Construction Specifications Institute and many of its members have been particularly enthusiastic adopters of web- and mobile-based technologies which provide a medium for interactive and wide-ranging discourse. Much of the reason is attributable to CSI’s Communications/Community/Web Director, Joy Davis, CSI, CCPR (@CSIConstruction is Joy’s Twitter handle). I have yet to meet Joy in person, but it’s clear to me she is doing a terrific job of cultivating and expanding a pool of informative CSI members who are highly active online.

Some of the more prolific and notable CSI Twitterers and bloggers include:

Eric D. Lussier, CSI, CDT (@EricDLussier on Twitter) is Pennsylvania Regional Manager for Advantage Sport USA. His blog is

Tara Imani, AIA, CSI (@Parthenon1 on Twitter) is a registered architect and owner of Tara Imani Designs, LLC. Tara blogs at

John Guill, CSI, CCS, CCCA, AIA, SCIP (@SpecmonkeyNorth on Twitter) is a specifications writer and Associate of DTR Consulting Services in Santa Rosa, CA.

John W. O’Neil, CSI, CCS, CCCA, LEED AP (@specologist on Twitter) is a construction specifier at Larson & Darby Group in Rockford, Illinois. You can find John’s blog at

Liz O’Sullivan, AIA, CSI, CDT, CCS, CCCA (@LizOSullivanAIA on Twitter) is an architectural specifications writer in Denver, Colorado. The URL for Liz’s excellent blog is

David Stutzman, CSI, CCS (@dstutzman) practices as an independent specifications consultant with his company Conspectus. The Conspectus blog is SpecWords. Find it at

These are just a few of the individuals whose instructive blog posts and timely tweets I regularly look forward to reading. I know I’ve failed to list others who are equally deserving of mention; to them I apologize. 

With Joy’s tutelage and cajoling, this active group is quickly assuming a leadership mantle within CSI. There’s nothing “virtual” about its influence. Its effect is very real and illuminating one possible path toward the Institute’s future. CSI’s membership declined when the “Great Recession” struck back in 2008. It has yet to pick up appreciably. I predict the organization will rebound but it will be as a result of the exponential development of its social media ecosystem.  

One reason for the rapid growth of CSI’s online community may be found in the organization’s DNA: the founders of Construction Specifications Institute sought to improve the quality of construction specifications. Today, CSI’s mission is broader, including the advancement of building information management and education of project teams to improve facility performance. The mission encompasses the advancement of construction communications in all forms.

Another reason is the relationships built upon platforms like Twitter and member forums. Networking within the social media universe is less time-consuming, more convenient, and (in my opinion) as effective as meeting people in the old-fashioned way. It is easier to leverage relationships, spread news, and share ideas. Social media do not replace the benefits of meeting face-to-face at gatherings like the upcoming CONSTRUCT taking place in Phoenix this September. Instead, they augment them and reinforce bonds among the active members. I’d love to meet each of the CSI social media mavens I list above in person. Thanks to their online personas, I already feel I know who they are. 

Joy Davis deserves kudos for broadening and enriching the online connections between CSI members. There are those who criticize the contribution of our digital culture to information over-saturation. The truth is CSI’s social media outlets are providing value-rich channels. The Institute’s prospects are rosy. Far from being an organization lost in a search for relevance, CSI is well-positioned to play its part in tomorrow’s hyper-connected and interactive world.

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