From the Depths of Obscurity

There is a constant flow of information on every conceivable topic and from every possible outlet. Mainstream mass media, online publishers and social site curators all scramble to remain omnipresent.

Back in October 2012 LinkedIn launched its influencer program. An elite collection of “experts” made up this in-crowd considered to be thought-leaders. Now, in-line with LI’s branding they are labeled “in”fluencers.

As part of a broader content publishing direction many believe LinkedIn is aiming for as they strive to further monetize their member base, initial influencers helped drive traffic to the site, generate activity and increase cross-sharing of articles. Aside from obvious fame and fortune of the original influencer group, the selection process for the hundreds of newer, presumably less notorious influencers has remained a mystery.

Fast forward to February 2014 for news that LinkedIn intends to open the publishing functionality to EVERYONE. That’s right. Not just Sir Richard Branson, but those of us who never founded a billion dollar business empire now get to spread the wealth and wisdom of our words.

Several weeks following the announcement of the pending wide-open posting platform, access still seems to be quite limited. To my knowledge, only one person in my immediate network was granted a pencil (permission) to post. Luckily that person writes extraordinarily well. And based on much of the influencer content viewed thus far, he is probably far more deserving of that privilege than many of his predecessors.

Whether this latest site “enhancement” will improve the user experience or simply achieve LinkedIn’s growth and visibility goals remains to be seen. Enabling such access along with an implied edict that EVERYONE should have a blog could mean more recycling of the same trite drivel already abundantly available elsewhere. One concern expressed by many is the fear we will experience a deluge of inane and repetitious pontifications courtesy of Captain Obvious, Inarticulate Irene, Redundant Randy and Clueless Claire.

Examples of potential new writings and evidence of anticipated content quality are plentiful in LinkedIn’s countless discussion groups. A particularly prominent category selected by such writers is personal branding. Another impossible to miss, yet impossible to understand the attraction to it, is any subject related to generational generalities. And of course no one can escape assorted varieties of vacuous, vapid and virulent career expertise.

In some cases producers and publishers of the above and similar material overlap and blend it all together. It would appear that individual writers have become inspired to correspond with prospective readers due to aspirations of acquiring expert or thought-leader status. They put out copious amounts of regurgitated or erroneous copy as if it includes miraculous revelations.

The low barrier to entry along with lack of scrutiny means much of these ideas consist of distinctions that don’t need to be made or solutions to problems that don’t exist. That combined with the common journalistic practice of broadening readership by writing for audiences with 6th to 9th grade comprehension abilities doesn’t seem like a recipe for riveting or influential thoughts. Purveyors of provocative conversations about complex concepts are apparently not the target demographic for the majority of content currently populating the wired and wireless world.

From my solid footing deep down in the depths of obscurity I have mixed opinions, but generally lean to believing more may not better in this context. On the optimistic side, we may eventually discover the publishing prowess and originality of those cultivating their craft cleverly and creatively.

Article contributed by Kelly Blokdijk (block-dyke) — Leveraging her unique perspective as a progressive thinker with a well-rounded background from diverse corporate settings, Kelly consults with the business community on innovative, leading-edge human resource, recruiting and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs.