The LinkedIn Conundrum

Every few weeks, I log into LinkedIn and to accept/reject connections and clear out the stupid notices of people who’ve said I can do something well.

(I don’t think the people are stupid. I think the notices are stupid and spammy. Which, I think, you could say about pretty much 99% of LinkedIn’s email communications.)

I clear all the notifications, flags, messages, requests for human blood from LinkedIn and then I notice my profile is out-of-date. As I go to update it, I encounter The LinkedIn Conundrum.

“What’s The LinkedIn Condundrum?”, you ask? Good question.

The LinkedIn Conundrum (or at least, what I see as the conundrum …) is the desire to update your profile so that it at least reflects reality, but then the fear to do so because you don’t want it to look to your colleagues that you’re shining up your resume to look for a job.[1] Some people clearly don’t have this fear, and they update their profile one hundred times a day, outlining every new thing they’ve done in their job (“skills: getting coffee four times a day without anyone noticing I’m away from my desk”). There are certainly others, and I fall into this category, where I struggle over whether to update my profile at all, fearing that someone will assume I’m looking for a job. So instead, my profile stays there, frozen in carbonite, forever out of date.


  1. The corollary to The LinkedIn Conundrum is the same fear whenever you accept the connection of a recruiter on LinkedIn, which clearly makes people think you’re talking to a recruiter, when in reality, you’re just accepting some connection to a recruiter who reached out to you, or you’re using for sourcing. Of course, none of this would be a problem if it was socially acceptable to not connect with everyone on LinkedIn, but that doesn’t seem to be the societal norm. Though, I do, on occasion, not accept a connection, if only to exert some feeble power over the LinkedIn borg.

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Tech Things I Want to Work in 2009

There’s lots of little things that, if tweaked, would just make life a lot nicer . . .

For instance . . .

The Google Calendar sync tool should support syncing Outlook to secondary Google Calendars, not just your primary calendar. That would mean I could drop SyncMyCal which runs in my Outlook-only Parallels Virtual Machine. I’d have a nifty, no-click workflow to sync my Work calendar to my secondary Work Google Calendar, which get sync’d down to iCal and to my iPhone.

Better yet . . .

The iPhone should support syncing both iCal and Outlook calendars. It’s sort of a dumb thing that if you turn on Outlook calendar and contact syncing, that’s the *only* calendars and contacts you get. Why not keep them separate? If Apple added the ability to have your Outlook calendar sit right along side your iCal calendars, then I wouldn’t even need to sync my Work calendar up. I could just accept meeting invites on my phone and have everything work nice and happy.

Oh, and same goes for Contacts. Just let me sync my Exchange contacts as a separate group. Seriously.

Even better . . .

Apple Mail and iCal should build in real Exchange support. Then I could actually not run Outlook in my virtual machine all day. Instead, I could just use Mail and iCal as Exchange clients and have the most simplified workflow of all. Supposedly, this is going to happen in Snow Leopard. That would be awesome.

Making life even sweeter . . .

Google should fix contact management. I love Gmail. I use it for everything. I hate Google’s Contact stuff. It is awful. They tried to make it better. It didn’t work very well. But they’ve got the keys right in their hands … Social Graph. Imagine you gave Google some information about you that they could use some OAuth or other authentication means to determine that it is really you. So you hand them some keys to Flickr and Twitter and (if they can work out their differences), Facebook. Now, Google pulls all that information together and makes a nifty contact for you. Name, picture, email address, home address, work address, phone number, Twitter, Flickr, etc, etc. You only get as much information as the contact allows (if we’re not friends on Facebook, you don’t get my phone # or address).

Now, Google can do all this behind the scenes and give you a little button to “add so-and-so” as a contact. If I add them, they go into my Contacts section. Then, I subscribe to my Google Contacts like they’re an LDAP source or however else they want to get hooked into your setup.

Boom. All of a sudden I’ve got a real contact solution that’s continually updated.

Ok, sure, that’s a lot like what Plaxo promises. Except Plaxo really doesn’t work all that well.

So. When all this happens, I’ll have my calendars all seamlessly syncing together to my computer and to my phone. On top of that, my contacts (work and personal) will all sync nicely as well. And stay up-to-date, thanks to something like Social Graph or the like. Plus, Snow Leopard will mean I don’t have to run a Virtual Machine just to use Outlook (and don’t tell me to use Entourage … it barely works).

With my work life (and personal contacts) working so seamlessly . . .

I’ve got time to kill. I want to get through some movies or TV while I’m out and about.

Give me Netflix Watch Instantly and Hulu on my iPhone! Now that they’re on my XBox and Mac, I’d love them remotely. When I’m out eating lunch or riding in a car, I don’t need HD video. I just need crappy streaming video that will let me knock off an old episode of Newsradio or watch 15 minutes of a crappy movie.

But, if I don’t want to watch something . . .

Sometimes I just want to listen. The fact that the new version of the iPhone firmware lets you download podcasts is great. By why doesn’t it sync my entire podcast list and let me just quickly scan for a new episode of something I listen to? Even better, why not do something similar to Genius and recommend me a podcast I might like?

All that would be very cool.

Oh, and why can’t I sync stuff over bluetooth. That would be good too.

Twitter

I didn’t know what to make of Twitter. If you’ve sort of missed out on what it is, figure a cross between blogging and updating your IM away message. It’s all about sort of micro-updates about what you’re doing. It’s limited to 140 characters, which forces you to stay concise, and allows you to do updates via a text message, or the web, or any sort of app you want to build that interfaces with Twitter.

Then, people can “follow” you or “friend” you, just like on pretty much any social network, and get updated to what you’re doing. People can have updates sent to their phone, IM, or just over the web (HTML or RSS). It sounds so egotistic and silly: who would want to know what you’re doing all the time? Do people care that much?

It sounded so stupid. I checked out some of the more famous Twitterings (?) online and I wasn’t sold. Then, I went to Vegas. I wanted to send notes back to people at home–you know, just silly stuff. I signed up for Twitter and gave it a shot. I really haven’t stopped using it since. The ability to just send a text message off to a phone number and have it update a little blog is pretty powerful, and can (depending on how many people use Twitter in your little network) be pretty helpful if you’re looking for some quick info from your friends.

I can think of a whole bunch of other uses (some of which I’m going to try to implement at work … we’ll see how that goes), but, fundamentally, it can be a useful way to get some information out when you don’t have enough in your brain to do anything too big (like update your blog …).

I’m guessing it’ll fade out, but Twitter is a handy fad. I’d almost like to sync my Twitter status to my IM status/info, so people can sort of follow me however they’d like.

The other good thing about Twitter is that it’s one way. It’s only outward communication (though you can use it to sort of carry on a conversation) which is nice, particularly these days when there’s just so much data flying at you (for instance, at work, I’m on 4 IM networks, plus two email accounts, plus normal web stuff). Twitter’s unidirectional (monodirectional?): I just spew and I don’t have to listen back. Not very friendly, but sometimes it’s what you need.

I’m going to try to add my Twitter feed to my blog (look that way —->). We’ll see how it goes.

Linkbaiting is Annoying

I’ve been reading a lot of search engine stuff in my feed reader recently. I used to be deep into the search engine optimization knowledge, but at some point, I realized that it was, at some level, just scummy. Not the idea that you’d understand how engines work and do the little things to make your site rank appropriately. No, it was the other stuff, like link exchanges and link buying and the general dishonesty that comes along with that. When I go to a search engine, I want to actually find what I’m looking for, not have to dig through a bunch of crappy sites that think they deserve my traffic.

It got worse when AdSense came along, and it got even worse as Digg, Facebook, MySpace, and the other social networking-type sites got big. Now, not only were people gaming the engines, they were throwing up lame articles and gaming other systems to get both the search juice and the traffic. Their spammy site gets the best of both worlds, and the rest of us deal with more spam–just not of the email variety.

This week was a big to-do about one of these SEO/SMO guys who got banned from now-Yahoo! owned blog widget because he was posting how to hack it (and, quite frankly, being an all-around douche). So, a guy who games the system for a living was bitching about being banned from a free tool that he’d been posting how to hack. Topping it off, a whole bunch of other SEO folks (many of whom I’ve been reading for a few years now) hopped on and defended the guy.

I just don’t get it.

I understand that the whole idea behind this widget (MyBlogLog) and behind other sites (like Digg, Flickr, etc.) is community. You build a community and you get more than just the functionality of the widget, you get the benefit/fun of the community. It’s all so Webtwopointohy.

Finally, a voice of reason came through my feed reader. I’m hoping we’re reaching a tipping point. I’m hoping we’re reaching the point where every sales and marketing guy out there looking to score some quick money doesn’t look at every new site and widget as something to game and make money. Now, I’m not against making money. I’d love to create a site that has some value to people and figure out a way (ads or not) to make some money. But the group of folks who exist solely to put up a site with ads, get it on Digg, and get enough sheep to click on it need to go away. They used to be called spammers, and it’s about time we go back to calling them that.

If Only I Weren’t So Lazy …

Remember back when I mentioned that I should build a little centralized social networking manager where you could manage your profile in one place?

Well, I don’t have to anymore. ProfileLinker did it for me.

TechCrunch pointed to them today, which means they’re bound to get a good bit of traffic today. Reading through the comments, folks are hitting on many of the reasons I never got energized to actually do anything about it: the networks could cut you off; users would have to really trust you to give you their login/pass; there are so many networks that you’d be constantly trying to keep up as new networks emerged (as well as keep old networks working).

Partnering with the networks is the only way to make it work long term, I think, and that’s a tall order given that any centralized management system removes page views from their site, thus removing ad views from their site, thus directly reducing their revenue stream.

Still, it’s an idea that needs to happen because managing multiple profiles is just silly.

My New Crappy Business Idea

When I was running the other day, I think I figured out one of those silly business ideas that people come up with and then other people go “that’s a really dumb idea … I bet people will pay for it.”

With the prevelence of social networking websites on the web, particularly the big three of MySpace, Friendster, and Orkut (or maybe LinkedIn), it seems like people are always encouraging you to the join the one they’re a member of. That usually means you start with like a Friendster account, get convinced to join Orkut (leaving your Friendster setup wilting …), then you move to MySpace (and they both wilt). Then one day you remember your Friendster setup, and you go back in there to find now there’s a bunch more people there.

Or at least I assume that’s what people do. I don’t have a MySpace account, but I do have an Orkut account (I don’t think I’ve logged in for over a year) and a Friendster account (which I check maybe once a month). But, if you really cared about these networks and keeping your data up-to-date, wouldn’t it be handy if you could update it in one place and have it magically update the rest?

That’s my idea: to build MyFriendKut.com (I should probably removes some vowels to make it very Web 2.0). You’d setup your account on the site, and then give the logins to your social networking accounts (yeah, privacy issues, but whatever, it’s all about convenience). The site would have a bunch of settings that are common to most of those sites. When you want to change something, you change it at the MyFriendKut.com site, and the site pushes it out. So then you keep all of your sites up to date through one interface, saving you time to stalk people on MySpace. Fun!

Better yet, maybe the site also throws up a tabbed interface or something that authenticates you to the social networking sites so that it’s one-login-shopping. See! Amazing idea!

Now I just have to get motivated and build it. And probably check to see that no one has already built it. Then figure out how to make money off it. Sell out and become a millionaire. Just like the Underpants Gnomes.