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Monday, December 05, 2005

We Are the Craigslisters

The folks at ZoomInfo are adding social networking to their people search site. ZoomInfo generates a profile based on publicly available information, and uses that information to link to others who have worked at the same places.

ZoomInfo's guesses at my social network were about one-third accurate as I've never met the majority of my supposed former co-workers. Social networking sites reinforce the importance of maintaining good relations and the advantages of having experience and personal connections. I've had several leads for work from my LinkedIn profile, and it has helped me to say hello to friends from years past.

ZoomInfo collected a fair amount of information about my employment history, although the search algorithm needs some tuning as a Google gives you a more accurate picture of my current projects. ZoomInfo also caches content from pages that have been taken offline years ago. So folks who work in public arenas won't be able to hide from jobs that may have ended badly. This is a plus for prospective employers, but maybe not for individuals.

I'm happy that ZoomInfo doesn't list my phone number or email address even though finding such information isn't difficult. I would bet that algorithms for collecting all of that information is already in the making.

The spread of blogs, social networking and community sites are tightening the bonds of community over large geographic areas, but they are also widening the distinction between the groups of those who do or don't actively participate online.

Everyone reading this is by definition what I call a "Craigslister," someone who gets how the Internet is used to stay steps ahead of people who rely on TV and print for their news and personal and professional growth. While the circle is growing larger, for those outside, it is becoming harder to compete. For example, why should a company seek to hire strangers when a posting on LinkedIn or Friendster can find someone with connections to its universe? It's the 21st century version of the "old boy" network.

While you can find out much about my ideas and experiences online, according to the Google and ZoomInfo, I have many friends and family members who don't exist. We should keep this in mind as we refine our message and assume that the world at large is watching.

In the future, historians may use the Internet Archive to record humanity's evolution based on the cached pages of our generation. As always, what's left out can be as important was what is inside.

By John Gartner at 01:32 PM | Comments (0)

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