Random ruminations as I figure out and deal with life, grad school, being an engineer and a product manger; learn more about technology, marketing, economics, news, writing short stories and other stuff that distracts me from doing whatever I'm supposed to be doing....
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Profile surfing and anonymity: Linkedin feature change
One of the reasons I ended up visiting LinkedIn often (recent comment from an engineer looking at "My most visited " list - "LinkedIn shows up twice..really?") is their "Who's viewed My Profile" box.
Clicking through on the link a few weeks ago, gave you a snippet of people that had viewed your profile. The information was deliberately vague ("Someone at Google", "Someone in the IT industry" etc. ), but interesting in the voyeuristic ways these things tend to be.
So I was intrigued when LinkedIn changed this feature a couple of weeks ago. Now, the only way you get to see this information is if you opt to make your own information completely public (i.e. clicking on the profile above would show the person's actual name; link to their profile etc.)
This change simultaneously makes the the feature more interesting, and less likely to be used. I'd love to see the internal stats on how users have reacted to this change.
This approach is somewhere right in the middle. The extremes are the way Orkut used to be and no longer is (you could always see the full information on who'd viewed your profile) and the Facebook approach (that information was never available to you.)
On balance the results suggest Facebook got it right. The externality (i.e. evidence that people know you saw their profile) prevents people from spending more time on the site and actually surfing profiles. Perhaps the fact that LinkedIn surfing tends to be more professional and the fact that they have a user base used to this behavior will allow them to make this successful.
If anyone picks this data up or has other ideas about this, do let me know. :)
Every once in a while, I'm reminded that humans can be completely lacking in humanity.
My wife had the following experience yesterday on her ride back home. She got on the train and found a seat. The train was unusually crowded and it looked a lot of people had to stand for a long ride. An elderly Asian gentleman carrying a few things in both hands, was looking for spot, started to complain smilingly about the train being so full and stood in the aisle at the back of the carriage some seats away from her.
She expected someone closer to gentleman in the aisle (lots of younger people on the train) to give him their seat.
No one did.
The train started, and it was clear the man was having a lot of trouble standing up. Then at the next stop there was actually an announcement saying the train was full so please give up your seats to people who needed them.
Still nobody moved.
My wife got up walked to the end of the train and asked the gentleman to go over to her seat. She still couldn…
I've been really enjoying the Freakonomics podcast of late. This episode and the lesson we should take a away from it, was a stark reminder of one of the most important things we should be doing - but often don't - in building products or making any decisions: measuring the impact of absolutely everything we do, including the things that seem obviously good.
I recommend listening to the podcast if you have the time, but here's the summary. Stephen Dubner describes the Cambridge Sommerville Youth Study. The impact of social intervention programs in general is hard to measure and so they seldom are. This was the first attempt at measuring the impact over a long period of time.
It's a great story and there are a few good take-aways, but here's the main one: troubled or at-risk youth that received mentoring (good mentoring!) had worse life outcomes across every dimension than the kids that were left alone. Despite the recipients saying that the mentoring was incredibl…