As I do after each conference I am currently busy finding people on-line and adding them to my ‘social filter’ after BlogTalk Reloaded. Basically that means finding their on-line presences and adding them to my feedreader, and connecting to them in different environments such as Plazes, Skype, Flickr, OpenBC/Xing, LinkedIn, 43People etc. Weaving them into my social web so to speak.

Weaving a social web. Image by Pandiyan V, license CC BY NC

I don’t mind to spend the time to think of who I actually want to stay connected to. That after all is part of digesting the event I have visited and part of weaving new relationships. This can be time-consuming but that is not to be helped (except take better notes during an event). For instance today I have spent some time to find out who Marc Barrot is. He seemed familiar from a previous BlogTalk, seamed to know Paolo pretty well, and we had fun conversations. I have looked at his nametag a number of times, resolved to remember his name, but back home I drew a blank. Googling around a bit for him in combination with what I did know about him soon revealed his name.

What I do mind is how much time it actually takes to preserve a bit of context around having met somebody, by trying to find out if somebody is part of an environment where that context can be preserved. When I first started doing that it was fun as sort of a detective story, but nowadays I find it simply is too time consuming, and it really sounds like something a tool can do for me just as well.

Hence my question. Would there be a way to create a search agent that takes the name of a person you’ve met? Ideally you would provide such a search agent with your own account data of all the environments you are part of that you want to have searched. And then it comes back with a number of likely search results that might contain any or all of the following for instance:

Possible blogs of that person
Possible Flickr Feed, or 23 feed
Possible Skypename
Possible IM names
Profile in
Profile in
Profile at
Possible Plazes account
Possible account

So that I could have a look if it indeed is the person I am looking for, and then connect or subscribe. Connecting and subscribing would be manual again. Only I can send out personal messages, only I decide what to add to the feedreader.
Any suggestions, or a sudden inspiration to start coding?
Or any stories on how you do this yourself?

10 reactions on “Weaving Webs: How to Quickly Find Somebody’s Online Traces?

  1. It sounds like you want a combination of
    – easy group forming, so you can clump related people you met at the same time together
    – something visual, so that you can pick people out by faces and not just by names
    – something interconnected to the nth degree so that you can pull out tendrils from people’s increasingly spread out web presences
    The one tool you didn’t mention that might actually help in some of this is Facebook – if you were in a world where enough people were using it – where it’s easy to create a group and to mark up photos with links to people in the group. Natually it helps to have critical mass there already, of course, so it won’t be useful for everything.

  2. Edward, I hadn’t yet time to test Facebook, but as far as I understand it you have to host everything there. What if I created all my online data before on different services (e.g. photos on flickr, contacts on xing, rss on bloglines, videos on youtube…)? It would require a big step to move all that content to another host/service and it doesn’t make any sense to me.
    Maybe the openID project goes in the right direction:
    Kind regards,

  3. I’ve been banging on about this for a while now. I don’t want a great “MyPortal” page. I want a great “AboutMe 2.0” page that is indexed by Google. It should have links to everything I belong to and ideally links to everything I post on the net, anywhere. are going in this direction.

  4. Marc Canter also adds his thoughts
    The different suggestions on what tools to use for this, mostly point to another ‘central’ spot where one can create a profile etc. I don’t think this is the way to go. I merely need something to aid my searches. I have a LinkedIn account so I can search there. I need my searchtool to be able to use my own account info to search for me.
    The mentioned internetaddressbook looks like what I had in mind, but then something that lives in my browser toolbar.
    Trying out the internetaddressbook it misses my LinkedIn account. It does find my 2 ICQ accounts (my old lost one, and my new one), but then cannot display them.

  5. Hi Ton,
    what I most like about your thoughts is the fact that you still prefer to do the registration manually and that you want to decide for yourself what to add to your feedreader. The “search support” sounds nice. In our iCamp project ( a small group is actually now looking into how to improve Flock – the social webbrowser (
    I am not sure about what the next version will include in terms of features, but I have heard that it will be more “person-oriented” (whatever that means).
    My problems with following up on people I meet, by the way, is still more basic ;-). Too often I get carried away by looking at interesting links that I find during my search and time is tjust flying by.

  6. Ton, I just ran into ClaimID – a sort of personal index page you can build that has a bunch of links to all of your profiles and services etc.
    It appeared to be about an hour’s work to get something I was happy with, and I didn’t have the hour at the time I saw it, so I let it pass.
    I’m not sure that we can expect the online world’s unveiling of a persona to be any less complex than the in-person world. So many people have a story that’s longer than fits on a page and pretending that the digital makes it otherwise is asking too much.

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