Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Separate Professional and Personal Networks?

There's an interesting post to check out by the Fortune technology staff that discusses whether people will maintain separate profiles for their personal and professional lives--and whether those profiles will reside on separate social networks. The discussion builds on an interview with LinkedIn CEO Dan Nye in which he said

said people will build one profile for their personal life and another for their professional life. The argument, self serving as it is, makes a certain amount of sense. Not good to have a prospective employer stumble on to those photos of you freshman year in Delta Kappa Epsilon.

Now, I'm sure that some of the radical transparency/Web 2.0/etc. advocates would argue that there is no such thing as separate professional and personal lives. At some level, I suppose that's true if by "not separate" one means that there are any guarantees that wild drinking stories posed on the Web aren't going to be found by a prospective employer. However, I'm unconvinced that for most people personal and professional lives are quite as intertwined and inseparable as the blogging crowd and others in the coastal high-tech bubbles think they are.

In any case, the Fortune post then goes on to wonder whether such separation need be achieved by a standalone company like LinkedIn or whether it might be more logically implemented as an application on a social network like Facebook.

Wouldn’t it at least be smart, then, for LinkedIn to deploy itself as an application on Facebook, given Facebook’s new open API strategy? Quite possibly, said Nye who pointed out that [LinkedIn founder] Hoffman was an early investor in Facebook, and that Facebook backer Peter Thiel also has money in LinkedIn. “We know each other well,” said Nye. “We like each other.”

Bottom line: the jury is still divided on how much consolidation to expect in social networks, but it will be interesting to see how all these real world social networks hold up when their virtual counterparts begin to merge, or falter….

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