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Spock People Search

April 19, 2007

Earlier this week during the Web2.0 Expo keynote a new ‘people’ search engine called Spock was demoed.   Spock holds true to the ‘Web2.0’ form by allowing users to add custom tags to describe the people searched for.  All the tags associated with a single person are shown as tag clouds and lists when viewing that person’s result.  The most often used tags bubble to the top in a del.icio.us format.  Users can vote ‘yes/no’ on the tags associated with a person.  Tags that people
agree with are moved higher in a person’s profile while tags that
people don’t agree with move lower.  This will allow you to search on a person’s name and/or any other piece of specific information that has been associated with that person  The demonstration showed the results of ‘Drunk Driving’ which returned both Dick Cheney and George Bush among others.  Cheney was at the top because he has more arrests then Bush.  Interesting stuff.

Right now you can often locate information about a person by googling them.  However, the results must be pulled together manually and a summation of that person made on the disparate results which isn’t always easy or time efficient.  Spock promises to aggregate all the information good and bad about a person on a single page allowing for fast estimation of what a person stands for and has done with their life. 

For public personalities this probably won’t be anything new, but for the average Joe this might be troubling and even embarrassing.  Everyone knows George Bush was arrested for DUI, but not everyone knows about Fred who lives down the street, paid his debt to society and just wants to move on with his life.  Suddenly anyone who searches for Fred Jones can see that he was also arrested for DUI because an ex-girlfriend added a tag to his name after a particularly nasty breakup.   

It is doubtful that everyone (or even anyone) will stop and think before they do something because it might show up on their permanent ‘Spock’ record, but it does make one wonder what it will be like when even the people that say ‘nay’ to MySpace have a page with everything anyone knows about them all summed up in a nice tag cloud.

Josh Brewer
Senior Software Engineer
SFI

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