This past weekend my wife and I, along with a group of six close friends, headed south to Nashville, TN, where four of us ran in the Country Music 1/2 Marathon. It was my first 1/2 marathon and I beat my personal goal by a solid 6 seconds, clocking in a chip time of 1:44:54.
The timing chips, from a company called ChampionChip, were fastened to each runner’s shoe, and ensure accurate start and finish times, triggering when one crosses the start and finish lines, where we all ran across magnetized mats that communicated with the chips. With 30,000 runners, some people didn’t even get to the finish line until as much as an hour after the race officially began. And with the help of this cool chip technology, friends at home and around the globe could monitor our progress in real time via the Web.
What if we all wore similar tracking devices in our everyday lives? Obviously there are oodles of privacy concerns with a proposition like that, but there are lots of cool benefits, too — see where your friends are; meet up with family members if your paths happen to cross; keep tabs on sneaky teenagers; safely monitor elderly grandparents with Alzheimer’s.
While running the race and while traveling to Nashville, I thought about the concept of six degrees of separation. How many of the people at my layover in Chicago had I crossed paths with before? How many of them would I see again? And in the race, besides my group of friends, did I know anyone else or have any connection to any of the 30,000 people?
It would be cool to see a dynamic race map that showed all runners’ positions as well as other stats like hometown, age, and maybe even how each runner is connected to the others. For example, while playing around with the race results search, I found that there was one other person not with our group who had traveled from our town; there was one other Gabe; there were 77 other Andersons (I placed 4th overall among Andersons); and there were 735 other people my age (264 other men).
With so much data available just based on simple vitals like name, hometown, age, and gender, how else could we all be connected?
Until we’re all wearing personal location devices, we can stay connected through sites like LinkedIn, which is a networking site for professionals; it’s like your online resume. Think MySpace or Facebook without all the clutter and social elements. LinkedIn is a truly useful tool for establishing and harvesting professional connections between you and your friends, your current and former colleagues, business associates, and more.
With LinkedIn, you can do things like the following:
- Establish 1st-degree direct connections with people
- Search your network based on name, company, location
- See how you’re connected to people
- Discover that you & someone else you know may be connected in a way you didn’t realize though a mutual contact
- Post job listings & find contractors who specialize in particular skills
- Search job listings
It’s similar to the type of data I was searching in my 1/2 marathon race results, but from a professional standpoint. In Chicago, my wife and I were debating with our friend traveling with us about the concept of six degrees of separation and how powerful it is.
For example, if you look at my LinkedIn profile page, you’ll see that I have 198 connections. Dive a little deeper and learn that my 198 connections “link (me) to 1,417,600+ professionals.” That’s a lot of people.
The power of networking, combined with searchable data, is pretty awesome. It’ll be interesting to see what the future brings.[ Subscribe to gabeanderson.com via email or RSS feed. ]