Wednesday, January 30, 2008


This blog is basically an addendum to Impersonal Greetings.

Today I got a greeting on Facebook through a new app. However, when I went to claim my greeting, I found I would not be able to get it unless I sent a greeting to 15 of my friends.

I was immediately filled with doubt regarding the greeting I got. Was it really a personal greeting for me? Or did my friend need to greet me in order to get the greeting from his friend? Frankly, the thought that someone was forced to greet me is even worse than getting a holiday card from someone who just sent it to his whole mailing list. At least it was intentional and not sent to me under duress.

Needless to say, I logged out of that app, so I don't know what greeting I got. Or didn't get.

BTW, if you are wondering how many of my colleagues contacted me after my last post regarding the meeting my company is attending this week, the answer is none. I hereby officially concede that I am ahead of the curve.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


If you are reading this blog because, like me, your company is attending the MEF forum next week, and you saw my name on the attendees list, and you are doing your homework before the meeting -- by all means, please drop me an e-mail. You have officially made my list of "people who get it." I'd be honored to make your acquaintance.


In anticipation of an industry meeting my company is attending, I went through the list of attendees and googled the ones I was interested in finding out about. Several interesting findings are appearing from this exercise, one of which relates to the different social networks my colleagues use. More about that in my next blog.

The main finding of interest is how googlable people are, and how much information is available on people. About half of the people I am looking for are in marketing and about half are in technical fields. Most of them do not do well in search engines. So far, none of them have blogs. Almost none of them have any personal information available: not flickr accounts, not book reviews on Amazon, not even a resume.

In other words, the only way I am able to find out about my colleagues in the telecommunications industry is if they have written a feature article, are using LinkedIn or Spoke (the other social networks Google poorly), or have published a professional paper or contributed to a standards body.

On the one hand, I think, more power to them, they have managed to keep their personal lives to themselves, unlike yours truly. OTOH, I think, what losers: don't they have a life? What kind of marketing person are you if I can barely find your title online? Who are you if I can't find you online at all?

The other thing that strikes me is the huge advantage to having a relatively unique name. For those of my colleagues named John Smith, I had to search with their company name, which is fine for my purposes. However, if someone is searching for them after finding them on or on their neighborhood watch committee, there is little chance that person can find out anything about them.

Thankfully, my last name is fairly unique, because my first name is not. If I had thought about online search 10 years ago, I probably would have thought twice before naming my daughter Maya, which is very popular these days. She could potentially marry someone with a common name and be virtually invisible, or at least virtually hard-to-find.

For all of you future parents, I am perfectly serious. If your family name is common, think hard about giving your child a fairly original first name. Phone books and local searches are a thing of the past; today reputations are global and your life-long unique identifier will have a significant value.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Impersonal Greetings

With a new year inevitably come New Year's Greetings.

Nobody reading a blog remembers this, but once upon a time if you got a holiday greeting card (the kind made of dead trees), and the person hadn't scribbled some kind of personal message, you felt a tad insulted.

At least that was the case in the States, when I lived there. For almost two decades, I've lived in a culture where the only people who send holiday cards are salespeople. So, for years and years, I have not sent greeting cards. I feel guilty about the friends I didn't keep in touch with, but on the upside, I've saved a few trees.

Over the past few years, greeting cards come, by the dozen, through e-mail. There's something incredibly impersonal about not even getting your card with your name at the top of it. Despite being in charge of the design of the company greeting cards, I don't make a habit of sending cards out, but to the actual humans who send me cards, I tend to reply.

This year's innovation is cards through social networking. I get season's greetings through Facebook and Plaxo. Now these greeting cards are, in some ways, even less work and less personal than the e-mail greeting card. OTOH, they do have your name and picture on them, and they did come from your (semi-)closed network of declared "friends".

It is with great embarrassment that I admit to enjoying receipt of these impersonal social-network-generated greetings. I get that instant pleasure of believing that for a split second, a friend of mine was thinking of me. And they were, because they had to look at my picture for a second (Unless they chose "Select All", but none of my friends are dorks, so I am pretending that option doesn't exist.)

I still haven't been able to bring myself to return the greetings, because it seems too impersonal. But social networking has allowed me to send birthday cards at the appropriate dates, something I have never been capable of tracking previously. Despite the impersonal nature of an e-greeting, it's an upgrade from the mass-holiday-greeting-card. I hope you understand.

I still get the holiday greeting cards of the physical kind, always from my ex-roommates from college. They don't have anything personal scribbled at the bottom, but they always have a picture of their kids. I hang those up in the kitchen, where I can see them, for the whole year, until the next one comes.