From professional to confessional

Back when I was a practicing architect, I was already seeing signs of professions in decline. The need for a professional architect was getting replaced by the use of construction managers. Knowing the ins and outs of bidding, procurement, permits and construction was getting valued by clients more than design expertise. Since then, residential CADD programs (computer aided drafting/deign) have migrated to desktop versions for sale in office supply stores. Builder supply retailers offer free CADD services for designing decks, kitchens and other remodeling projects. There have been similar DIY transitions in portions of law, medicine, real estate, publishing, video editing and music production.

Professions appear to me as a byproduct of information scarcity and the storage of expertise with ink on paper. These contributing factors maintained barriers to keep amateurs from competing with professionals without comparable qualifications, credentials and fees paid. Credibility was earned by gaining privileged access to the scarce information, studying some of the expert texts, and grasping the internally consistent paradigm of a chosen profession. Professionalism has lasted for centuries, just like printed pages have endured.

Now that we have attention scarcity, information abundance and digitized expertise, professionalism is losing ground. The viewpoint of non-consumers I've conveyed here and here reveals how professional credentials are losing their credibility. We're becoming more oral, tribal and cyclically minded as digital media take effect on our outlooks and ways of organizing our impressions. Cred comes from transparency nowadays, not certificates, licenses and diplomas. Confessional expertise is far more credible than professional knowledge when we have access to the info, and need a viewpoint to orient ourselves.

Some journalists have made the transition away from professionalism that many bloggers have already accomplished. Readers feel like they know these writers personally. It's apparent where the "reporter" is coming from. It's significant how they're feeling as they write their latest piece. Their own back story plays into their perceptions as much as the background of the story they write about. They make it seem like their subjectivity is equal to their objectivity when weighing the relative value of verified facts and personal frames of reference. They realize there's no way to escape "writing as biography". These are confessional journalists.


  1. One of my mantras is that professionalism is a state of mind not a state of money ( & one could add credentials)

    I use it in my training of volunteer tutors to refugee families. It is often resisted but leads to useful discussions around areas of commitment, competence, reliability, thoughtfulness & attitude.


  2. Thanks for this minh. If all processionals took your recommended approach,there would be many fewer problems in the world. :-)