This semester, I am taking a comprehensive advanced business plan writing course, in which I am writing the plan for the long awaited new platform for Land Surveyors United. As most of you know by now, my dad Skip Farrow passed away last June and because this network is something that we built together, I have been doing a lot of work on my own in attempts of getting the new site up and running. While doing so a lot of time has been spent digging up pages and archived information about the site to create a more comprehensive and understandable reason for why we are all here. For example, tonight I stumble across a page archived long ago which told the story of our community philosophy circa 2010 and I thought it might be interesting to see what you all think of it today.
I am going to share it as it was written then and if you are interested, share your thoughts on how much has changed in the industry in the past 8 years
As a kid, I spent the majority of my time outside of school working in a reprographics shop owned by my father where surveyors and engineers were in and out all day. Somewhere along the line, I learned a lot about the needs of surveyors in getting their work done. At times, I worked really hard to help him meet deadlines by assisting with blueprinting, delivering and servicing equipment or whatever was necessary to get the job done. As an adult and college graduate, I found myself gravitating back to this feeling of obligation and commitment to the surveying industry, but why?Anthropology.
Surveyors Need More than a Sounding Board. They need a Community
In 2007, when I started building LSU, my goal was to reach a critical mass of activity amongst the members i had. My goal was to build slowly, for example I hoped for 5000 interactions per month at this time, because Land Surveyors United had only 100 members. But in the future I projected 25,000 interactions when LSU came to 500 members. At this point I began to finally start looking around at other social networks for possible ways of 'generating' interactivity and discussions, but discovered quickly that nothing these other communities were driven by could ever power a serious network of professional land surveyors. And because no such online environment existed for surveyors, I had nothing else to work with or compare my vision to and thus, no other source of inspiration. The only online destinations where surveyors could congregate at this time were lacking the features that surveyors so desperately needed. And with the advent of social media, someone needed to assume the responsibility of enlightening surveying professionals in the industry to the multitude of ways in which social tools can be used for building reputation and supporting one another online. I assumed that position. My inspiration would have to be based upon my own list of objectives. Those objectives were fuel by anthropology, not advertising.Surveyors communicate in highly specific ways- and those ways are not typical to other online social networks. I began to move away from the whole idea of building a "social network" for land surveyors and began to gravitate more towards a network built on "social support". Therefore I decided that a transformation of a social network environment into a social support system was the way to proceed with building a global community. Land Surveyors United should always be free to the individual surveyor and geospatial community because (in my opinion) surveyors should not have to pay for the following:
- Voicing an opinion on the surveying industry as a whole;
- Building a reputation online by sharing their expertise and experiences;
- Finding Answers to their problems in the field;
- Finding updates, tips and tricks for the equipment that they already use;
- Ability to share what they know and do so with rich media.
When I began building Land Surveyors United, there were a few inherently counter-productive trends that seemed to be haunting the surveying industry.
- Every time a surveyor tried to find support from a dealer, they always tried to sell them a new piece of equipment
- Every time a surveyor called the manufacturer for training and support, they told them to call a dealer.
- Every time a surveyor could actually find support, they needed to be at an office
- Every time a surveyor actually needed support, they were out in the field.
Now, only five years later, Land Surveyors United has changed much of this in the surveying industry.
Land Surveyors United has a National AND an International VoiceThe lack of an effective international voice can be directly attributed to the fact that information that keeps surveyors informed in this industry has been monetized to the fullest extent. They want you to have to pay for it therefore they control it and release it upon payment. Surveyors (both new school and old school) really should have direct access to one another and a place to utilize these tools of communication to both improve their business and build their reputation online. Surveyors are among the most technologically driven professionals in the world. And although the information that they gather day to day in the field is so vitally important to our understanding of the earth and our growth as a society, it isn't hard to imagine how difficult it must be for surveyors to stay up to date in respect to changes in technology. I hope to eventually have created a few useful avenues of exploration and sharing for the everyday surveyor. Communication among these valued professionals in the field, in my opinion, should not be limited to the outdoors. When the day is over and you're back at the office uploading data from the field, what better way to get advice, share stories and get support (burning that company time), than simply logging into an environment full of like-minded individuals who know what they are talking about? It takes a mere 5 minutes to set up a profile and announce who you are. In the very least, you may have learned something new, while preparing for new avenues of networking within the industry. On Land Surveyors United, our growing cross-cultural community is empowered to communicate across geographical borders and the language barriers have been transcended. For the first time in history, member of the surveying industry are united.
Land surveying as a profession is the oldest in human history, as we all know. Surveyors use the most advanced technology and equipment known to man and day to day play the part of both the artist and the scientist. It should not be so difficult to get the information needed to learn the proper ways of utilizing the latest technological advances in this profession, but it is. That is why i created Land Surveyors United.
History of Land Surveyors United
If you'd like to learn more about the history of Land Surveyors United, take a dive into some Happy Birthday Posts    which explain many of the original ideas behind when and why the greatest network on the planet for professional land surveyors was born.
Land Surveyors United Circa 2008
What are your thoughts on the matter?