Are you suffering from profile overload?

I've got profiles everywhere these days, and not just on the internet, but on the intranet as well. I'm sure we've all got a variety of external faces, whether on Yahoo, MSN Spaces, Facebook, myspace.com, LinkedIn*, or the myriad of other social networking sites out there.

But what about on the corporate intranet? It can get just as complicated there, especially if you are trying to find someone who knows something about something that no one in your organization knows anything about!

We're starting to see social networking tools for the enterprise show up in evaluations, and I really do hope we implement something within the company - there's incredible value in knowing that I could search for organization development and find a person who is in another division that did an OD project last year that's exactly what I'm trying to do now. But we're not quite there.

Right now I've got a pseudo-profile on my internal blog, another on our internal wiki, another on our document collaboration environment, another that's part of my email signature line, and I'm sure there's yet another floating around somewhere. If someone wanted to know what I've been up to for the last 12 years at Intel, they would have to look around in three or four different places to get the full story, or just ask me for a copy of my resume.

Part of that is my fault - I just need to pick one place to keep updated and point everything else to it, but the problem there is that now I'm sending people to sites that might not be their PREFERRED location for social networking. As an external example, let's say you've got a personal blog on wordpress.org, but you've also got a myspace account and another on MSN Spaces. All three have blog functionality, which do you pick? Do you post to all three at the same time, or do you point people to one or the other? What if one of your friends prefers MSN Spaces, but you keep sending them to wordpress.org to read your blog?

It's profile overload! Not only do you have profile/personal info in 10 different places, but you're trying to communicate redundantly based on other people's preferences. Stop the madness!

I'm now to the point where I'm shutting down my profiles on sites that are just secondary or tertiary, and if people want to know who I am and what I'm wearing, they will go to the one site that has it all, because realistically, whichever site you choose will have another competitor in 6 months that everyone will flock to and add 500 friends they've never actually met before. In my mind, I'm seeing a group huddled together moving in unison from one corner of the room to the next as the latest social media site pops up.

Will it settle any time soon? I doubt it. There are many competitors that are getting into niche areas and offering more for your money (which in most cases is free). It's a challenge outside and a challenge inside. At least within the company you can create a "mandate" that says here is the site to create your profile and it's what the company is going to use.

Maybe some day everyone on the planet will have an ID number and their own website. I want to be 0100100001000101010000010101010001001000.com.

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