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Mind My Social

I received an invitation to take part in an alpha test for SocialMinder, and being an incurable chip-head, I accepted. SocialMinder is an interesting tool that maps your Gmail contacts against your LinkedIn network, builds a profile of your core business network, and gives you updates on the contacts you’re out of touch with. On this level it’s a great sales and career networking tool.

But what really elevated my alert level was my first email "report" from SocialMinder, which told me I was overdue to contact two people in my core network, one of whom I've known since college, the other since grad school. Their calculation for overdue is based, presumably, on an algorithm that takes into account the frequency of my past contact with them. The message followed each overdue contact's name and email address with links to three news items directly related to each contact's hometown or place of work—probably to give you some talking points for when you reach out to the person you're in danger of losing touch with.

Can news get more local or personalized? Probably. Assuming SocialMinder is capturing and processing this data—and, really, of course they are, because such data is their most valuable asset and their only way to refine their mapping methods—and will add other email systems and social networks to their tool, then the semantic accuracy of their matches and the things they can do with such mapping will only increase.

Even as the content of the Web explodes, our respective places in it will seem that much cozier and intimate.


Without The H said...

Are you concerned at all about privacy as the mapping of all the data increases? I agree that 'our respective places will SEEM much cozier and intimate' but what if we don't want to be cozy? Is it a loosing battle - join or be left out? Or is there a way to balance privacy, professional development and semantic use of the web.

librarian@play said...

Of course I'm concerned, but isn't there a trade off with every technology? Having a cell phone means my friends and job expect to reach me 24/7 - and get pissed off when they can't. But when I fantasize about ditching my cell, I also recall being away without one while my father was dying and my siblings had no way to reach me. So there is a penalty for opting out.

The semantic Web is about connections - between concepts and between people, all for the purpose of getting machines to do some of our thinking for us. If you use email or instant messaging or a social networking site, whom you're connected to is already out there, placed freely by you, and waiting to be accessed using Google's or Facebook's or LinkedIn's open APIs. So that element of your privacy is already a myth.

And if you're a person currently without any Web-based communications, even email, you have to weigh the inherent pleasures of engagement (and there are clearly pleasures or else no one would ever have signed up) against the pain of continuing to opt out.

Anonymous said...

Reach out, Reach out and touch someone...

Without The H said...

That's a solid answer. Thank you.