OK this is a quick one… I’ve just spend 1hr fixing my LinkedIn profile. One very nice feature of this service, is that it can import your contacts from Gmail, do a string match against its database, and if some of your email contacts are already in LinkedIn, send them requests to join your professional network.
I just realize now, how easy it would have been if I had all the emails from my company going to Gmail: I would be able to easily leverage the proffesional network tracking capabilities of the LinkedIn service, keeping connected with all the people I exchanged email for business, without any effort from my part (and besides I wouldn’t have to deal with Outlook madness daily, rather do some Gmail Fu).
All these might seem self-intuitive, but look behind the lines: as many of the people I’ve met for the past couple of years (both online and in real space) we have been saying to each other, when data stay closed behind the firewalls, they are siloed and they cannot gain in value by being connected.
So put everything on the biggest existing cloud out there, the internet, and let it be connected by the duct tape called Web 2.0. A devil’s advocate might bring up the issue of privacy, which is a significant one: for example many of my email contacts might not want their address being parsed by LinkedIn, because we don’t know what LinkedIn does with them…
Now I am eager to see if I can evade IT, and fwd all my email to my Gmail account….
…is Shareaholic. It’s a Firefox pluggin, and as you can see in this picture it allows you to post in a bunch of Web 2.0 sites… I find Shareaholic to be so practical since it gives you everything in one button, without having to fill your Firefox toobar with 4-5 different buttons (which you’ll have to aim and click for each different site you want to post). Only drawback is that it opens a new tab to show you the post you just did (haven’t found yet how to turn this behavior off), which for some people might be good, for others bad. I tend to work frantically within my browser, and that’s why I do not want more than one buttons or new tabs popping up…
… The next best tool for me is FriendFeed. I will not get here into many details on how it works, I’ll just say that whatever gets marked/posted/commented via Shareaholic and the APIs of the various Web 2.0 sites it supports, eventually ends up via aggregated feeds in FriendFeed, for discussion and sharing in online rooms where similarly-minded people hang-out.
For those of you who are already messing around with FriendFeed, let me say that a nice hack is to create a private room with only yourself as a member, where you can re-share the chuncks of your feeds that were commented and discussed by other people. I find this to be extremely useful, in the sense that I daily go about my fruit-picking around the Web, gather stuff that I find interesting by posting on the various sites via Shareaholic, pull them as feeds over at FriendFeed, and then keep track of what other people say about the various thingies I’ve posted around the web…
This last example specifically, for me shows how one’s ideas expressed though collection of related/supporting information from around the Web, can be echoed back, augmented and verified by other people thinking alike. Maybe that’s what it is to harness some Collective Intelligence….
This is a post adopted from a long email I wrote to a personal acquaintance of mine, where I went on to do some confessions on what I think about the nature of my current academic job. So here it goes:
” I did lots of introspection (and reading, and discussing with other geeks like me) this past semester, and lately my ideas finally started getting into full shape. I basically realized that I like to solve tricky problems. whether that has to do with analyzing results to find patterns, or reading about and understanding new methodologies and then applying them to my own data. But because I like to built stuff, I see best to make computer programs to accomplish this. And to make the long story short, I am repelled by the academic blah-blah-blah and lecturing, all the theorizing and writing papers, and in a sense making things on top of thin air… For me, it is better to build things (well even if you just type on a keyboard instead of using a hack & saw), things that you can hold with your own hands and see them become live and interact with the real world (even if they’re just operating inside a computer)… Academic papers and theses are just a bunch of ideas – even though they result from hard work – but it’s not a concrete thing, and somebody can use them only as part of their ideospace (see mental cloud, or space of ideas). But in the end, I think somebody can have an exhilarating experience by swimming through the ideospace of a programming language and its application towards the solution of a hard problem” .
So that was a paragraph of that email adapted. And I will close by saying about the importance of going after what fulfills you most. A very nice post related to this principle, that inspired me and I have read earlier this morning is here.