Today I wish to preach about the work-oriented social network known as LinkedIn.

It has many thousands of users, many of whom willingly disclose tremendous detail about where they worked, what they worked on, whom they worked with. Some of them pay for the privilege by buying a higher level account. With all the ads and data mining, it’s obvious what LinkedIn gets out of the deal. But what do the users get out of it?

  • notification of job changes of ex-co-workers. OK, I guess, but if one hasn’t been in sufficient contact with that person to be told directly, then chances are the impact of the change on you is miniscule.
  • trivia scavenger hunt. Play “Where are they now?”. “Who else went to this ag. school?”. “How long do people stay directors at company X?”. Fun for five minutes.
  • social butterfly. Collect the most “connections” … feel the warmth … magic happens … profit!

What do the users not get out of it?

  • any plausible value in the references posted by others. This is because all references are clamped to be positive: phrased as “recommendations” by LinkedIn, and subject to approval of the subject. So all feedback is positive: “everyone is special, so no one is”. This makes the recommendations meaningless for candidate-evaluation purposes.

Gentle reader, if you have found a positive use for the thing, please consider mentioning it below.

There now, I’m done. How about a dancing monkey?