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.
Therefore 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.