People search with Spock


Spock’s got an interesting take on people search. They troll social networks for profiles. In other words, Spock aggregates content from LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, et. al., and blends it with user generated comments, posts, pictures, etc… Anyone is free to append to someone else’s profile.

One of the public databases that Spock taps into are records of political contributors. Political affiliation is an interesting facet of some peoples lives. I find it useful to know what side of the political fence they’re on before meeting them. I’m not sure that everyone wants to show their affiliation so openly, but that’s the price we pay for transparency.

A bigger question is what will drive traffic to Spock? It’s this… in 2007, it’s up to you to police your public profile. People will visit Spock just to vet their aggregated record. You assumed that your profile was going to be shared with only classmates when you joined Facebook, but that rule melted more quickly than the polar ice cap. Now that some social networks offer APIs that expose profile data you are open to the world.

To Spock’s credit, their privacy policy summarizes social networking dos and don’ts regarding privacy:

  • Never display personally identifiable information on your profiles such as home address, phone number, birth date, social security number, or email address.
  • If you do not want your profile to be indexed by search engines, make your profile private. Most social networks allow you to make your profile private in their account settings page.
  • If other search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN) are displaying web search results that are inaccurate or reveal personally identifiable information, please work with the search engine directly to remove those results from their index and work with the source website to remove your information.
  • Never give out personally identifiable information in public online discussion groups, blogs, or chat rooms.

Spock’s ambition is to index everyone on the planet. I guess social networks are a good place to start, but it begs the question. When will digital social networking reach 100% global market penetration?


Dogs in dogpatch

A tribute to the dog…

I thought I knew what I was doing when I tried to make a Chicago style dog. Then I searched Flickr. Hot dogs are an artform…

Intel’s Developer Confab

I’m headed up to San Francisco this morning to sample the panels and products at Intel’s Developer Forum. Why is a software guy like me hanging out with hardware guys? It’s because Intel has been leveraging social media platforms to better serve their constituencies. From establishing three developer communities in Second Life to marketing Suite Two, Intel is showing the rest of corporate America how enterprises can benefit by richer online interaction with employees, customers and partners.

Intel recently put its money where its mouth is with the acquisition of Havok, the makers of the tools that create 3D virtual spaces like Second Life and Halo. Clearly, Intel sees a bright future for those that embrace the digital lifestyle.

Intel will be using Ustream to webcast some of the noteable panels. You can catch Gordon Moore‘s keynote at noon Pacific time here. There’s also an interesting panel called “Social Media: Friend or Foe of the IT Organization?” That panel will also be on Ustream today 9/18 at 3pm Pacific time.
I’m looking forward to meeting new folks, learning new things, generating a few new posts and maybe even a few BlogTalkRadio shows. Should be fun….

Quechup: Anti-Social Software (ASS)

I spend a lot of time with social networking/media platforms. Since my consulting work involves engaging emerging online communities, I play with new offerings all the time.

When Chris Heuer’s Quechup invite hit my inbox, I thought it might be worth a look. Chris knows a lot about social media, so when I get an invite from him I assume that he’s inviting me to something that has merit and possibly value. Not in this case. Chris, me, and a cast of tens of thousands got caught up in Quechup’s spammy bullshit.

This is the bullshit in question:


I’m a busy person. That’s why I take headlines seriously. Despite my misgivings about giving a stranger the password to my email account, I really wanted to know who in my Gmail address book was on Quechup. I gave the miscreants my email address and password. I clicked continue. A list of those that have joined and those that you may want to invite appears.

I started by deselecting an ex-girlfriend and moved on to deselecting most. I clicked continue, not realizing that I just unleashed a torrent of invite spam. The spam included an invite to the ex-girlfriend I had just deselected…I really never wanted to hear from her again, but thanks to the assholes at Quechup she got an “invite.” What’s worse is that she wrote back. Crap.

How did this happen? I have several theories. First, I have 2 email addresses for the ex-date. Maybe I just unchecked one and didn’t see the other. Another sloppy anomaly of Quechup’s list is that it shows those that have joined as well as those you may want to invite. Many of my friends are on both lists.

Finally, there is downright deception. Chris’s invite originally piqued my interest yet he does not show up as a contact that is already part of the network. Should I spam him back to keep the score even? I don’t know…

This episode of misanthropic social software is an utter disaster in my opinion. Not only did it stoke the expectations of an ex-lover it added to the daily burden of crap that we get in our inboxes. I hate Quechup. Please avoid it. Pass it on!

The Open Social Web


The Social Computing panel at Office 2.0 failed to deliver on the premise of exploring the impact of Social Computing on the Enterprise. I was planning on ducking out when John McCrea of Plaxo started talking about the Open Social Web. The topic was far more important than any of the other panel blather.

John said “What I’m seeing reminds me now of a very exciting time in 1994, when the web emerged. We could see how the web would change the enterprise. What we’re seeing now is the impact of the social web. It’s not just interesting and fun. It’s something fundamental and important. It needs to be as open as the web.”

Users of social networking platforms are familiar with some of the symptoms of the walled gardens we inhabit. I’ll call it the Hotel California syndrome; your data goes in, but never checks out. All those photos on Flickr? Fergitaboutit, there’s no easy batch export. Tired of filling out yet another profile? That information is rarely portable. Same with your list of friends and contacts. In all too many cases, they can’t be easily transferred to your next social network.

That’s why the current set of social networks will never realize their full potential unless they become open. After all, Reed’s Law states that the utility of social networks increases exponentially when subgroups are able to connect. Today, that kind of connectivity is poorly served by limited APIs and less than open transport of data in and out of major platforms.

So how important is the Social Open Web? Critically important if we want to maximize the utility and value of all that’s been built so far. I just hope that the economic incentives are powerful enough to erode the garden walls.

Awareness Networks on BlogTalkRadio


Date: Friday, September 7, 2007
Time: 9.30am pst
Call in number: (646) 716-9346

Tune in Friday 9/7/7 at 9.30 am pst to the Social Media Club‘s interview with David Carter, founder and CTO of Awareness Networks. Their Social Media platform has been adopted by brands like Cannondale and McDonalds to support the needs of their online communities. Learn how major brands are finding highly engaged customers and driving brand loyalty with social media tools.

ODD Lexicon

Ross Mayfield is running a session at the Office 2.0 Unconference tomorrow morning. It’s called Catalytics, How to be an Agent of Change in a Large Organization. Ross has asked attendees to read Strategy Creation in Turbulent Times. I’m still digesting the paper, but was immediately drawn to the lexicon developed by AT&T’s Opportunity Discovery Department (ODD). It’s familiar territory to anyone that’s experienced large organizational behavior.


Lexicon of ODDisms
canary n. a person who detects signs of dangerous strategy/behavior; a person who tests a situation for the safe entry of followers

confusopoly n. a version of “management by regulated incompetence”; the modus operandi of telco incumbents (aka clusterfuck)

data bomb n. a statistic with disturbing implications

dead squirrel n. a strategy that has encountered the arrival of a freight train

empty suits n. pl. up-and-coming executives who need ideas to advance their careers (I doubt they coined the phrase)

freight trains n. a trend that is going to flatten a company unless the company changes its strategy (see immutable trend)

GNOST abbrev. Grass-Roots Network of Strategic Thinkers; an informal community of support

humbitious adj. a state that combines the humility to recognize that one does not know everything with the ambition to be bold in fulfillment of one’s mission

ignorance map n. a map that charts the critical information of which a company is ignorant

jester n. a person who employs humor and self-ridicule to force executives to acknowledge difficult strategic issues

learning journey n. a journey of discovery to an unfamiliar area or context
magic feathers n pl. implicitly and intentionally indefinable concepts that companies believe are necessary for success, e.g. middleware, platform [From Disney’s “Dumbo and the Magic Feather” in which Dumbo believes that he needs a magic feather to fly, whereas he already has all that he needs to fly—namely, his big ears]. Offering a “magic feather” as a solution stops all useful strategic discussion.

naked emperors n. pl. misguided executives with delicate egos whom no one is willing to confront

ODD abbrev. Opportunity Discovery Department; Opportunity Deficit Disorder; Organized Despair and Disillusionment

ODDventure n. see learning journey reboot camp n. a learning journey that is designed to “chock and fix” unsuspecting executives stink tank n. a place such as ODD where dangerous, combustible ideas are generated.

Strategic infection point n. a suitable point in an organizational process at which one can introduce a new strategic perspective

strategic rubber chicken n. an indigestible attempt at strategy; usually served to lower level employees by upper management

stratlets n. pl. hallway or elevator strategies; small pieces of strategy with the potential to grow into something larger

substitute brain n. an external consultant

Trojan hearse n. a vehicle used to engineer the departure of a naked emperor

Unamailer n. a disgruntled knowledge worker who breaks the corporate code of silence concerning mismanagement and incompetence