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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Thursday, April 25, 2024

LinkedIn Identity

Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, May 26, 2005
6:20 am

In yesterday’s blog, I mentioned that I had been contacted by

Curt Monash

. (Please note that most links in this blog require that you log in to LinkedIn. There is no charge to register if you would like to take a look.)

Curt had read my blog and posted a request for introduction through a common colleague,

Kent Petzold
, who passed Curt’s request to me. That’s how LinkedIn works – people passing requests through a network of acquaintances to other people who are of interest. In some cases like the Curt-Kent-Mark chain, only one intermediary exists. Other requests can pass through up to three people before they are delivered to the final destination. Any participant in the referral chain can choose to pass the request along or reject the request.

LinkedIn is actually an interesting case of user-managed Identity sharing.

Some users, like

, choose to bare their souls on their LinkedIn profile so people can find them based on any facet of a diverse background.

choose to expose the bare minimum of Identity information. Contact information is not shared unless a member grants specific permission. The distinction between contact information (private) and profile information (selectively published) allows people to be easily found, but not contacted without permission.

Users can either allow people to contact them directly, or can require that contacts be made only by referral. I used to allow anyone to contact me, until I received too many connection requests from people I didn’t know and with whom I had little in common.

People becomed “connected” if one person initiates a connection request and the other accepts it. Some people have many connections. For example,

Ed Nusbaum
, the Phoenix entrepreneur who invited me to join, has over 750 direct connections.

are connected only to the the person who invited them to join. I can find people in the LinkedIn universe who are up to four contact steps away from me. Theoretically, that is over 1.3 million people in my network (about half the LinkedIn total), according to LinkedIn calculations.

So, what has it done for me – other than provide an interesting exercise in evaluating social software? The results so far are admitedly limited. A few examples: I once found a consultant in Washington State who advised me on the merits of an interesting technology I had not heard of before. I connected with a prior colleague,

Chuck Day
, who is now a sales manager for a key Sun partner. I have connected with a couple of former co-workers whom I hadn’t talked with in over 15 years. It turns out that one guy,

Steve Carter
, is the lead architect for Novell’s Identity Management product line. And I connected with Curt Monash a couple of days ago.

I’m encouraged by the complementary interaction between my blog and LinkedIn. Both are mechanisms to expose information to a potentially large audience. LinkedIn publishes Identity information and blogs publish user-generated content, both in user-controlled ways. Both provide connection mechanisms without exposing private contact information. Both foster the formation of community among people of common interests. And the central thing that makes both work is people – individuals with unique identities and ideas who are reaching out to connect with the world.



3 Responses to “LinkedIn Identity”

    I have blogged about linkedin. I get requests to link from others I have never heard of. That’s makes me worry about the value of linkedin. I turn them down. I don’t want to link to anyone that I do not know and haven’t worked with.

    Comment by John Clingan on May 26, 2005 at 9:17 am

    I take LinkedIn very seriously – as you can see from my LinkedIn profile. I consider it an extremely valuable tool for networking and managing connections. One of the great things is that it’s an address book that is self-updating. As people move around the industry, they update their own profile, so you always have a current email address. I guess that’s an example of the value of maintaining a pointer to data, rather than a copy of the data – just like Identity Manager <img src=”http://blogs.sun.com/roller/images/smileys/smile.gif”/>.

    Like John, I’ve had a few requests to connect from people I’ve never heard of – most often, people who manage email newsletters – they have a huge list of industry email addresses. I also turn them down. My rule for connecting on LinkedIn is that I connect if and only if I would recommend that person for a project/job/whatever. To do otherwise devalues the whole system.

    Anyway – here’s a positive LinkedIn story about how my friend and former Sun co-worker got his current job via LinkedIn.

    Comment by Superpat on May 26, 2005 at 9:53 am

    John, Pat:

    Thanks for your comments about LinkedIn. I agree wholeheartedly that connections should me made only with people with whom one has a legitimate connection. Just accepting many connections to pump up the connection number dilutes the effectiveness of ones network.



    Comment by Mark Dixon on May 26, 2005 at 7:25 pm

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