On Monday evening you can listen to me in Katoomba

This coming Monday 4 June, I’m leading a discussion entitled Surviving and thriving as a freelancer in a globalised market for Publish! Blue Mountains, “a non-profit association of the region’s top creative and publishing professionals”.

The event is subtitled “How to avoid being outsourced to the lowest bidder (or worse still, a robot!)”

Radical changes will hit a freelancer’s world over the next two years or so as we move to a globalised marketplace. Firstly there is the rapid rise of internet-enabled outsourcing through sites like Freelancer.com, allowing projects to be advertised globally and often awarded to the lowest bidder who may be in a country where $10 is a decent day’s wage.

Secondly, increasingly sophisticated and intelligent automated systems are now taking over many tasks that historically required human creative input. Just in the writing field alone, we already have US college sports coverage written completely by computer.

Where will this technology (and the marketplace driving it) take us? And what can we creatives do to ensure we’re not replaced by cut-price doppelgangers and robo-scribes?

The discussion will be held at Clarendon Guesthouse, 68 Lurline St, Katoomba from 5.30 to 7.00pm. My guest speaker slot and the open discussion runs from from 5.45 to 6.30pm, with drinks and networking to follow. It’s free, but you should RSVP to connect@publishbluemountains.com.au. The bar will be open.

So LinkedIn is a giant Rolodex, eh?

The other day I expressed my confusion over the point to LinkedIn. I now have the answer, thanks to an overwhelming number of comments. It’s a giant self-updating Rolodex. And it’s main use is recruitment — employees or freelancers finding work, or recruiters looking for staff.

That explains why it wasn’t making sense to me: I’m not in any of those categories. And when I am looking for work, well, I do media stuff. The people I’d want to contact are very public and easy to find. And I’m not wanting to “grow my business”. Fuck I hate that phrase.

That said, I can see that LinkedIn might be a useful tool for keeping track of the various people I interview for my media projects. Provided that LinkedIn allows me to add my own private notes to contacts — does it? — I’ll give it a go for a couple months and report back.

What also intrigued me is that having my comments posted on Hacker News led to a 2300% spike in traffic overnight — as well as a few people pimping their own internet start-ups. A different culture. Personally, I find the idea of drive-by commenting on a stranger’s website to promote your business to be… tasteless.

I agree with several people’s point that as a social network there isn’t much social in LinkedIn. People only checked back infrequently — such as when they were looking for jobs. I can see that LinkedIn is trying to encourage you to use the site more often, what with groups and stuff, but I got the feeling that this isn’t the way most people use the site. Am I right there?

Finally, as one person put it on Twitter, LinkedIn seems most useful for people who use “network” as a verb. Harsh, but fair.

[Update 30 March 2011: I’ve received a briefing session on LinkedIn, which I’ve now written about in Getting to grips with LinkedIn. I’ll close comments here and you can continue the conversation over there.]

I just don’t get LinkedIn, do you?

I’ve tried. I’ve tried several times. And every time I try looking at LinkedIn I always end up staring at it and thinking, “What is the point?”

OK, I do get part of it, that it’s sharing your network of contacts so that everyone can benefit. But to me it seems like a lot of overhead for an as-yet-undefined benefit. It’s Yet Another Database To Maintain.

That, and I get frustrated because there doesn’t seem to be a neat way of saying that I’m a freelancer, working for myself and not a company, and that I want to connect to people in that capacity. See what I mean?

So are you using LinkedIn? How do you get value from it? What am I missing?

[Update 30 March 2011: I’ve closed comments on this post, and on the follow-up post, So LinkedIn is a giant Rolodex, eh? You can continue the conversation at my most recent post, Getting to grips with LinkedIn.]