Social Computing in Business

With some recent buzz concerning social computing applications specifically targeted at making business connections, and I think some of them deserve a mention here (at the very least).

  • LinkedIn – I got the chance to play around with this site and really enjoy this one concept: endorsements. To make a connection with someone, you must ‘endorse’ someone’s work. This is very interesting: You end up getting this network built purely on trust. My assumption is that you won’t add someone unless you feel completely secure in the fact that they’ll be a good reference for you. Then, when it comes time to search for people to fill a position at a job you can easily see which people are most trusted and respected. I like this a lot. The amount of information that LinkedIn allows you to put up is impressive too, it gives you a better feel of who someone is. I’m definitely going to play around with this more and report back. (My Profile)
  • Orkut – Google’s semi-failed social computing application. One notable difference between this and the rest of the generic social applications is the ability to add business contact information. Profils have three views: Social, Romantic, and Business. This is interesting because Orkut has obviously pinpointed three target groups for their application and are hoping to provide specific information for each. Their business information leaves a lot to be desired, but it’s a start in the right direction, I suppose. (Username: jeresig)
  • Ryze – Another application similar to LinkedIn, with a notable difference: The amount of information that you are able to provide is severly limited. For example, there is no way to list skills that you may possess, clubs that you participate in, or even any information concerning your schooling. I’m not very pleased with the interface or with the way that personal information is presented. I really recommend LinkedIn over this application. (My Profile)
  • Eliyon – This isn’t purely social computing, per se, but more of an advanced search engine (and feels very scammy, but anyway). I was contacted a while back by one of their spiders requesting that I provide more information for my profile – I was intrigured. What this web site does is spider around the Internet looking for references to people and when they may have worked at a certain company – it seems to be very effective at doing this and is rather exciting! For example, I was able to find my old boss (when I worked at BrandLogic), even though no information was physically entered by him. The big issue with this ‘service’, however, is that in order to search for everyone from a corporation you must pay money, which kind of puts a crimp in the ‘social’ aspect of this application. (My Profile)

One interesting point about all of these applications: They all implement utilities to restrict the amount of communication (and potential spam) that you could receive. They set it up such that you can limit the number of connections away someone can be to view your profile, or even contact you. For the time being, I’ve placed no restrictions on my accounts to see the level of spam that is received.

Posted: March 6th, 2005

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