Wednesday, August 8, 2007

People Search beyond Web

New search engine Spock 'Search for People and Discover Where Your Friends Are On The Web' launched with a public beta today. It is next generation people search engine after and Linkedin. It is a marriage between wikipedia, Linkedin and social networking sites. Spock enables search to find friends, old acquaintances, favorite celebrities, or people you would like to know. With Spock you can discover people by searching for their name, or by using descriptive tags. For example if you type in "President" into the search box, Spock will pull back a presidents of all countries and companies. Then using tags, you can narrow down the results and find only "President of United States of America".

This next generation of people search engine indexes and organize all the public available data about individuals so that they can be discovered easily. It also enable enriching the public data using web 2.0 and social networking philosophy. Claiming your Spock search result allows you to add biographical information, tags (tags are just short keywords that describe someone), images, relationships, and other web content to make your search result more accurate. It will also allow you to receive alerts when Spock or another Spock user updates your search result.

The usability and relevance of the people search will increase as more intelligence is added by collaborating and networking with people. It is a self learning system after initial indexing.

I see lot of value of people search on public web in connecting people and finding old acquaintances, but also I recognize the value of people search in some type of organizations. For example, the research and consulting businesses are based on finding right people for the job.

Again referring to my previous assignment on knowledge management assessment for research organization, I had recommended people search similar in lines with Spock search as one of key initiatives in knowledge management practice implementation. This organization's core business is doing research in new technologies which has lot of economic and social obligations. The organization design its own research portfolio but outsource the work to the contractors who are experts in the respective fields. To get the research started, they normally rely on same set of contractors who had done similar work for them in the past or people in their professional network. They do not have means to find people based on subject matter expertize, skills or past work performances. Due to lack of people search, they do not know if they are finding the right expert to get the job done. There is no process data to substantiate their claim of delivering quality products and services using same set of experts. It was a concern for them but they do not have solution.

A similar kind of tool would not only benefit this organization but others who rely on expertize from outside and are always searching for people. I, being from consulting background, knows the pain of finding right people at right time to get work done. The best part about this search engine is that it is self served, individuals can claim themselves and own the node. Any information updated by others get moderated by the owner. The search tool is marriage between wikipedia and linkedin, providing best of both worlds.

I just hope Spock lives up to the expectations. I am afraid the site functionality is not working. It does not allow me to create user.

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