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Jesse Randall Warden

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My Website + Google = My Online Identity

Google is the only company that got Identity 2.0 correct

I just got an e-mail from a recruiter of sorts. They want me to do phone Flex/Flash consultation for a 20-40 minute paid phone call. Apparently, Ether (www.ether.com) could make money if they employed some sales teams. It seems all of California is reaching out worldwide, looking for people to come to live and work there. The reason? To be tech lead in their startup and manage contractors and outsourced individuals to make bling and fame in Web Deux Point OMG. If my hunch on what this call is about is correct, this'll be the third startup this month looking for Flexcoder meat.

While I'm glad the resurgence in tech is creating a plethora of new companies and re-energizing budgets of old ones, one thing is abundantly clear: Google is the only company who inadvertently got Identity 2.0 (www.identity20.com/media/OSCON2005/) remotely correct.

Case in point, the recruiter wants me to fill out a form on their website with my personal information. Usually, I'm all for this. As long as my address and phone number isn't required, I don't care what you have documented about me. The address you can easily get on the Internet, but when I put my digits out on the Net a few years back, I got some whack phone calls.

The phone number being a required field made me panic, and I gave up. I merely replied to her e-mail with my digits. Four years ago, the paragraphs from a multitude of job websites, and the advice of being professional from a variety of role models would resound\ loudly in my head. I would have read the e-mail three times, followed the instructions in my head, then followed them for real, and hand-crafted a response. Now that I'm not starving? Totally different. Granted, I'm still professional as can be, but I'm so sick of filling out my information on websites. In 2002, I polluted the Internet like the pollen of Georgia does the atmosphere, and inputted my info on every job website I could find. Only Monster.com came through in the end (three times in a row, w00t!).

Nowadays? My website. Jessewarden.com has everything I need: contact information, blog entries in great supply to showcase code aptitude as well as a structure that gets me into search engines. While I still occasionally get an e-mail from a recruiter who found me on Monster, most nowadays find me via e-mail lists, referrals, or Google, typically the latter for the ones I only hear from once in my life.

The time invested my personal website now provides more of a return on investment than time spent putting my information into OTHER websites years ago. My content equals more context. More context is more food for Google (and other engines, but who cares about them?) to parse. More relevant context means higher placement for relevant keywords. Those looking for things I want to be found for will find me and I don't have to pay for Google AdWords either. I already get more potential opportunity than I can handle from just spouting my mouth off about technology and other things I think are cool.

So, while the e-mail from the recruiter stated I should follow the link to fill out my information on their website to "register for our network of industry professionals," I unprofessionally replied with just my phone number. I mean, if a company that on it's about page states:

[the company]...differentiates itself by its adeptness at finding the 'tough-to-find' industry specialist[s]...

Then isn't it logical to assume that if they are capable enough to type in "flex consultant" in a text field and pressing the enter key on Google.com, then they are more than capable of inputting the rest of my information into their database as well? Maybe it is quite a skillset jump from 1 text field to 12 for their web form, but I mean... seriously? Let's define legwork here. You give the impression you are doing "hard work" by using Google when THEY are the ones who found me with MY help... they least you can do is transpose what is on my website into your database. If some info is missing, just call me or send me an e-mail with the understanding I'll part with it if it's for a business transaction. Suddenly, there is no panic at me giving my information to yet another database out of my control and long term memory. I don't even have to remember yet another password!

You gotta give her credit though; I AM the unlucky #13 for those search results AND the description for the link goes something like:

...still, f'me this is frustrating. Flex? You my bitch. Consulting? :: WHAP! :: Thank you... can I have another?

Anyone willing to put faith in me after that rant certainly has perseverance.

Heck, just re-read the email... apparently unless I fill out the form, I can't get the consulting job. Give and take I guess.

I just obtained new bank debit card this week. My old one was getting pounded by a few services I don't use and are hard to cancel. One in particular, eFax and I took no faith in their automated chat saying that "this chat is your confirmation of cancellation". Words are cheap, bro, especially ones written for you as you click a button to automate everything you've said to me. You can't block their monthly charges because they raise their price a few cents every month, thus dodging the flags the bank imposes.

This was done because the banker I talked to was young, pragmatic, and already cynical to identify theft and other unblockable Internet charges. Most bankers older than the woman I've spoken too tell me to contact the company in question; they don't understand internet businesses don't usually have brick and mortar locations I can waltz to in order to throttle idiots. Updating those services that matter isn't so hard; most let me know they need to be updated when they try to charge and they can't. For example, my Flashcom hosting was totally cool with giving me more time and not charging a late fee, but if history is any indication, someday soon my blog will stop working and my email will stop working in the middle of the day because Mediatemple takes no crap. To the point; these various companies inadvertently ask for my permission to do so. That's cool; I'm in control and in this case, I'm the epicenter.

When my e-mail or website changes, however, that contact only information isn't updated. All the countless sites I put contact info on is now inaccurate. Again, Google solves this problem. I just wait a week for it to re-index my site.

While I think it'd be neat for some website run by a private company that exposed controlled access to your information globally to those who wanted it per your permission, right now Google already does that. I put on my website what information I want people to have access to, in this case, my email address, age, geographical location, date of birth, and profession. Google then exposes that information as relevant to those who usually need to know. When I update it, so does Google. Again, when that information changes (which isn't often), so too does Google within a week or so. My website combined with Google's ability to index it is my Identity 2.0 ...I guess (haven't watched the presentation Tony told me to: www.jessewarden.com/archives/2006/02/pay_for_anonymity.html#comments - who has time for such things?).

Why do recruiters then scour Google only to take out contact information of individuals to put into their database which in turn is usually not ever updated? Why not just leave it where it's fresh, up to date (at least for me), and always accessible? You don't need an on or off-site IT staff to manage your data; Google does it for you. Furthermore, this allows the individual to control what information is exposed, and if more is needed, you can e-mail the person, in this case me.

As I glance at another un-read email from LinkedIn.com, I ask the same question I ask myself every time, "What's the point?" For those who don't have an online presence (personal/professional website, LiveJournal, Blogger, MySpace profile, etc.) I can understand the need to "get yourself into" these places to increase your exposure, accessibility, and chance of positive opportunity. Not for me, though.

I guess I'll follow instructions and do what she asked. I'm probably a faster typist anyway, and I love to talk about Flex with people so what the heck. If my cell number gets hijacked, it's all good, I didn't like the look of it anyway; a stylish phone needs a stylish set of digits to go with it.

More Stories By Jesse Randall Warden

Jesse R. Warden, a member of the Editorial Board of Web Developer's & Designer's Journal, is a Flex, Flash and Flash Lite consultant for Universal Mind. A professional multimedia developer, he maintains a Website at jessewarden.com where he writes about technical topics that relate to Flash and Flex.

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