Paul Taylor of the Financial Times has been trying out some new search tools designed to find people or check their digital footprint. He seems to have found more use for Spock than I can (it’s still in beta).
I still find Google most useful because I have the toolbar on each PC I use, and because Google favours blog entries over static web content. One example should demonstrate this: take Katya Trubilova, a final year student who has blogged as part of her dissertation work. It helps that she doesn’t have a common anglo-saxon name, but she owns the Google search result on her name and we can learn quite a lot about the life of an Estonian studying in Yorkshire. She’s also on LinkedIn (though her profile is a year out of date).
Facebook has become such an unremarkable aspect of our everyday lives (sorry about us and them, but most people I come across exist on Facebook) that the efficiency of its search often goes unnoticed. It works because it does more than return names from a database; it filters these names through several layers. First, those I’m already friends with. Second, those in my existing networks (eg by location). Third, friends of friends and so on. It’s so efficient that it rarely lets me down – and then probably only because the Gillian I’m looking for calls herself Gill. What’s in a name? A whole lot of personal brand and reputation assets.