There has been quite a bit of response on my posting where I thought out loud about a search tool to help me find on-line traces of people I met face to face, so that I can follow up.
A large part of the comments seem to implicitly assume the creation of an on-line service where you type in the name of the person you are searching for, and that then comes up with the results from different sources.
Lilia Efimova voices her worry that it should not be too easy to combine all the traces of somebody on-line. There might be a very good reason after all to keep traces seperated. In Lilia’s case that would be the division between private and business life. Not that she thinks it should not be possible to combine those traces, but because it should take some effort to do so. I agree with that. That effort is the investment you make into forming a relationship, and when a relationship grows and deepens it becomes easier to track and interpret traces, as you start seeing what is there between the lines.
Continueing social interaction by combining online tracesTherefore what I envision is not something like the internetaddressbook.com where the one being sought maintains a list of all public traces, nor is it any other one-stop-shop like tool.
I simply need a tool to help me search. I get tired of having to go through many different search screens for each tool and platform in which I want to find if someone has a profile there, filling in the same information each time.
I do not mind that it takes time to get to know somebody, I do not mind that traces might be deliberately hard to connect and that I need to invest in a relationship to see the whole picture. I do mind that the time I spend filling in search forms might be time spent on building those relationships.
So it is precisely as Barbara Kieslinger says in the comments, I still want to be the one searching and deciding myself.
I want a search aid that is completely dumb, unlike the internetaddressbook.com, and does not remember or register anything, nor shares or republishes search results. But a search tool I control that I can give what I already know and then looks where I point it to look. It’s just plain old search really, that can dig as deep as the current level of trust between me and the person the search revolves around allows.

2 reactions on “Weaving Webs: How to Combine Online Traces, Part II

  1. Hi Ton,
    a very interesting post *s*
    wouldn’t problems be solved if you could define ( I don’t know, maybe from a client or something in your adressbook on your desktop) what is searchable and what isn’t ?
    I mean my limit for my business and private life is probably smaller than other people ( I mean I am, basically all over the place)..
    and what is riccardo doing in this post ? *GG*

  2. Hi Henriette, thanks for commenting.
    Well, Riccardo’s cameo appearance in this post is just as an illustration of what I’d like to do.
    You go to an event, where you have interesting and inspiring exchanges with fun people (in this case Martin, Riccardo and Anne) and afterwards you would like to follow up, and start weaving threads between you and the other. That starting point in real life and face to face meetings for the search tool I would like to have is important. I am not interested in doing that for people I never met, but whose name comes up in an article e.g. That is a different dynamic. The photo is there to illustrate that connection to face to face interaction, and keep the discussion focussed on ‘real’ people, and not let it drift to more abstract dreaming about tools.
    As to you suggestion. Do you mean that I could specify what others could search for about me? In that case I think it would be hard to do. What I allow others to see depends on different dimensions, trust, but also context and point in time, and notions of how long that info will be available. If it means that I could indicate which platforms to search for somebody else (such as: all those three steps away from me in OpenBC.com, or all those in the contact lists of those I subscribe to in 23), then that would make sense to me yes.

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