Wednesday, January 09, 2013

The frightening internet

Because my employer urged me to -- it seems we are all being urged to "connect with customers" over social media, not that I have any intention of doing so (I'm sure they would be the worse for it) -- I finally joined a social network called LinkedIn. And as soon as you join, they ask permission to slurp up your contacts list. No, I replied, skip it. And yet even though I had denied them the right to know my email contacts, they proceeded to present me with about 200 people who might know me. And damned if about 40% of them weren't accurate.

How the hell did that happen, I wondered. How did they get the name of someone who contributed to Frighten the Horses, the sex-and-politics zine Cris and I did over 20 years ago -- an era before email and the internet -- and whom I've corresponded through email exactly once since then? It was fucking eerie.

This blog entry helped me understand. Both the entry itself and, especially, the fourth comment, which points out that those people are already on LinkedIn and they did share their email contacts list. So that artist who did the piercing layout for us in 1992 was actually on LinkedIn before me, and shared my email address, so when I popped up, there she was as one of the people I possibly knew.

I was glad that I recognized only 40% of those 200 people (which is still a lot). Because that means that 60% of them know some other Mark Pritchard. And they can have him.

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