Somewhere is Linkedin for the new way of work

The world of work is changing very quickly, and much of the cultural and societal apparatus that surrounds and supports work is out of date with the emerging realities. As McLuhan said,

Because of the invisibility of any environment during the period of its innovation, man is only consciously aware of the environment that has preceded it; in other words, an environment becomes fully visible only when it has been superseded by a new environment; thus we are always one step behind in our view of the world. The present is always invisible because it’s environmental and saturates the whole field of attention so overwhelmingly; thus everyone is alive in an earlier day.

Those of us who are trying hard to stay at the very edge of the change in work are still somewhat behind the times, but the majority of people are operating based on assumptions about work, the workplace, the workforce, and work tech that are years or decades out of date.

Linkedin is like that. It is based on very old school thinking about the presentation of self and the nature of business relationships. It’s very corporate, and dominated by the getting of jobs. I seldom go there, except to read messages and tell people to use email instead.


It’s a running joke that we’ve got to the stage of people you don’t know endorsing you for skills you don’t have

Which is why I find Somewhere — a new social take on business networks — attractive.

In the new way of working, work isn’t a place you go, it’s a thing you do. It is you. We are — to a great extent — shaped and defined by how we choose to spend our time, the work we take on because we are called to it.

At Somewhere’s blog, Justin McMurray, co-founder of Somewhere, wrote this:

When we started out on this journey, we spoke to dozens of people around the world about their work.

We learned three important things, which when taken together, make up a kind of Bermuda triangle of people’s work lives.

Firstly, work matters. Your work is an integral and crucial part of your life. Only the other day I was chatting to JP Rangaswami, Chief Scientist at Salesforce.com, who said,

“People who talk about work-life balance don’t get it. There is only life.”

This insight explains the second element of the puzzle. That people are hugely driven to find, pursue and do work that matters to them. In fact, some spend large parts of their lives in this pursuit.

The third side of the triangle is the slightly sad fact that a large majority of people have not found that fit and are disengaged with their work; a global waste of immense proportions.

And he directly takes on the presentation of self as realized at Linkedin:

More than 500 years after the invention of the CV, a LinkedIn profile still shows what you did, not what you really do or who you are. Where is the innovation in how people can represent themselves? It’s a running joke that we’ve got to the stage of people you don’t know endorsing you for skills you don’t have.

And Somewhere is an experiment to counter that. Instead of a CV and the paperchase of endorsements, Somewhere is a highly visual, social, and story-filled way to learn about others, and present yourself in your own way.

Here’s my profile, when I selected ‘How I Work’ as a view, and that pulls two posts I wrote, on ‘Surroundings Matter’ and ‘Personal Time Management’ topics.

Screenshot 2014-01-24 10.29.42Note that I selected the header, which is people blurred in a public place.


Instead of a CV and the paperchase of endorsements, Somewhere is a highly visual, social, and story-filled way to learn about others, and present yourself in your own way.

The stories are teased out of Somewhere’s users by answering ‘provocations’ — as shown in the blue button below my head shot — and which is a long list of topics like those above, or ‘what was your first job’ or the like. Users get to decide which to answer, and what to say. Each post requires an image, which makes it highly visual.

I found myself wandering around, getting to know people, and reencountering old friends, like Thomas Madsen-Mygdal, the convenor of Reboot, Trine-Marie Kristiansen, and Nicholas Dengler; and new ones, like Justin McMurray.

Screenshot 2014-01-24 11.41.15

And getting drawn into topics and subjects that define me:

Screenshot 2014-01-24 11.51.55

We’ll have to see where this winds up, but I think this could be the start of something, as Somewhere says in its notifications when someone opts to follow you.

Relevant Analyst
Stowe Boyd

Stowe Boyd

Lead analyst, future of work Gigaom Research and stoweboyd.com

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