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23 December 2007


Sam Rose

Saying that they are basically doing the same thing as Google, or other search engines, is flat out wrong.

True, Spock is spidering and collecting data, like google does. But, Spock is then presenting that data in ways that are at times massively out of context, and often actually meaningless, or damaging, and then hoping that a "Community" of people will come along and re-contextualize.

This kind of "data vacuum" model is rather ham-fisted, and offers very little value up front. Basically, I don't have the time, or the will, or want to go manage my personal data presence on yet another social networking website, especially when we all now know that the business model for these sites is to "flip" them over to a bigger company, to cash in on our collective time and activity. Now, when I see an invite from almost *any* social networking site, I won't participate unless they are reciprocating back LOTS of value to me and other users.

So, what I can do with Spock? Looks like basically I can annotate mis-contextualized scraped data about myself and others, from SN sites, blogs and other websites. Once I clean it up, then what do I get out of it? Not much, really, from what I can see. "What's in it for me?" Not much, "Am I Being Used?" Yes, because the value is flowing in one direction (from me, to Spock).

Spock could actually be a valuable service, if it had some kin dof *valuable* way to contextualize the data. Hell, if Spock contextualized data in valuable, I would not even be so worried about the fact that they scraped my identities on other public sites and then re-posted that info without my permission.

Of the top of my head, I could think of some ways to add some kind of useful value:

* Maybe Spock could create some plausible/workable way to scrape data about me, and then recommend other people, information, resources, groups, etc to me?

* Maybe Spock could present data in a way that is more useful and re-usable, and invite people to participate in cleaning up data in a systematic way that turns the data into a real useful, and open licensed data commons? Spock might argue that this is what they are trying to do now, but I think that the "facets" of data presented are not so valuable, and are framing people in inaccurate ways. So, Spock could add value by *solving the problem of how to scrape data about people, and present that data in accurate ways*. Also, being careful to allow people to opt out, or even better, to opt0in in the first place.

The only reason to go the "big foist" route, and force people to come in and clean up, or to opt out after the fact, (that I can see) is that this is a race to make money as fast as possible.

Spock people, please help me understand where the value is in Spock? What good does it do me to see a mis-contextualized collection of web-based info about me, and why should I do the work of cleaning it up for you? What do I get out of it?

Andrey Golub

I think the comment of Sam is very deep and logical, and then at the end some great suggestions to Spock for how to make the service even better- way to go!
still for Sam- if you could have a serious wish to communicate some of your ideas to Spock, for how it could be useful better as an On-Line Identity Management tool (since I see you do not speak so much about Search Engine but mostly about Digital ID MGMT)- you may want to join the Spock Supporters Fan Club 2.0 :), a Facebook Group about Spock-

now my personal comment part-
of course Spock isn't doing "the same as Google", first of all because Google is a "classical" Search Engine, working very quickly and effectively- but able to look at the web pages only. Spock could be compared with Google 2.0 if such existed, but it does not (yet?) exist :)

I think it should be clear that on the first phase of the project launch, the most important for Spock was to collect a critical mass of profiles, then to convert them to users. w/o this it could never be possible to implement in a future a really good service for community, right?
So the guys were mostly concerned about Network expansion, at the same time polishing their main arm- PEOPLE SEARCH. Of course Spock is not a Social Network, it's something much bigger and complex, including also SN as a key component.
Community powered People Search- is what makes Spock really different from any other Pages/People Search Engine. And although we all know there exist already few People Search Engines, those are all (most) "closed boxes", the take-it-as-it-is service, so could never be considered as an Online Identity Management platform. Spock has made a step towards the real Search Engine 2.0- they opened Search to the Community, so everyone is able, as mentioned by Sam, cleaning up and filling properly the own data, and then take care of the other people's profiles. Today some other projects are becoming opened, and this just once again demonstrates that the vision was correct?
So with Spock we get a) people search engine + b) online identity management tool + c) search engine 2.0.
not too bad for a beta?

and if you could think about the spelling of SPOCK, that is "Single Point Of Contact (by) Keyword", and its mission to become the single point not only of Contact but in the future also of Entrance to the Web/ Web 2.0 world (that's easily possible today with help of OpenSocial, DataPortability etc)- you'd probably not looked at Spock as just a search engine, right?

Have a nice spocking :)
Kind Regards,
Andrey Golub- a Spock Evangelist and Blogger

Kenneth Udut

I don't think the sky is falling. Spock flavored fire & brimstone (if Spock were an "oops! evil"), would taste more like Skittles or gumdrops falling from the sky, not sulfur and heat.

Is there a potential for OTHER scrapers to come along and scoop up SPOCK data and reconstitute it into an evil blend? Sure, that's possible - but no worse than what is already done with Myspace or what Google does. Data scraping done by Spock works off of existing, already easily findable systems. It's just repackaged in a friendly web 2.0 format.

Perhaps I'm naive. I did have an old work associate grumble a little about my spock request, saying, "I'm concerned about the privacy issues of joining another network". And he does have a point. He need not join Spock.com. He's careful about what he releases online and it shows - he's a very hard man to find online.

But I don't see what spock is doing as anything different than wink, or zoominfo, or ziki. At least they're all free to play along with spock. Intelius is the one that I didn't care for. "Hey, here's you and everybody related to you, everybody's ages and past addresses. Give us $10 and we'll search court records too". Spock isn't digging any much deeper than what you could find on Google or Yahoo.

In any case, I LOVE Spock, so it is hard for me to find fault. I think the potential of spock is astounding, and while the potential for danger is there (as it is for most things in life) - I think it's minimal. The upbeat, positive attitude one has with Spock, the cheerful upbeat colors, the easy to use interface -- I just can't fault it.

Bad people will try to infiltrate every system. All you can do is take each case at a time and not be overly paranoid. If one worries about their online reputation, then they should watch what they post, and spock themselves once in a while.

It's more likely than not that nobody is out to get you.

The sky is still in the sky.

Kenneth Udut

Jim Benson

Thanks Kenneth,

I'm not sure what you are responding to.

I really wasn't worried about the issues you are describing.

I was more concerned with the inappropriate aggregation of unrelated information.


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Jim Benson

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Jim Benson is a collaborative management consultant. He is CEO of Modus Cooperandi, a consultancy which combines Lean, Agile Management and Social Media principles to develop sustainable teams.


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