Linked in, or hacked off?

March 15, 2008

Linked In while having general utility is starting to irritate me as people use it to send me unwanted questions and offers. I have instituted a policy of two strikes and out in this respect. The first time I receive such an intrusion I advise that any recurrence will result in my deleting the linkage. I am happy to relax this rule if the originator is a friend or if they provide some stimulation. One such event happened today. I got an email asking for my advise on marketing two products that summarise text. Now anyone who knows me will be aware that I think such tools have limited utility and may actually make things worse. Below I repeat the request, which I have anonymised and summarised (sic) together with my response.

The request
Please forgive my direct approach but I read your LinkedIn profile and decided to drop you a line. I need great deal of help with marketing our new products: XXX andYYY.

In essence, both applications instantly summarize web pages and office documents. They are meant for people needing to rapidly absorb large amount of information without being lost in unnecessary details

Just mouse over the hyperlinks to see the summaries. YYY is meant to help the reader to get the essential info at a glance without leaving the page.

My response
I am reasonably well known for arguing that summarisers have limited utility given necessary limits in the capability of any semantic approach. I have also argued extensively that human linkages, fragmented references and the capability of social computing provide more effective means of linking and connecting people with key information/knowledge.

All my work in sense-making and knowledge management over the best part of two decades argues that people need to engage in the detail if they are to gain insight and pay attention to weak signals. To handle this we need to fragmented material not aggregated material and technology can help us do that.

So I am happy to forgive your direct approach. Hopefully in return you will accept my rejection of the approach you are advocating. You also provided useful stimulation for a blog so for that my thanks

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