Friday, September 26, 2008

Linking In

Last Wednesday at 7 AM, I received an email notification from LinkedIn informing me that a former colleague from think-tank-land wanted to be my friend.

"Oh," I thought to myself, noticing that this colleague would be my first and only contact. "I should probably try to make more friends, since this is all about social-networking." So I updated my profile and uploaded my Gmail contacts, carefully selecting friends and trusted acquaintances from the list.

When I pressed "Accept," LinkedIn asked me to choose the correct email address for contacts who listed multiple emails on the site -- but there was some sort of error, and my contacts were linked to the email addresses of different people. I pressed "Back," and was returned to a complete list of my contacts, with all contacts selected. I pressed "Deselect All," and then, thinking twice, pressed the "Forward" button in my browser to try to get back to the next step.

And then, a giant cockroach crawled up my curtain, and I was drawn away from my computer into an epic battle with nature. I resolved that I'd worry more about LinkedIn when I got to my office at school.

I arrived at Annenberg at 8:30 AM, hoping to get some reading done before class. I logged into Outlook. And saw 20 emails.

Yes, friends. LinkedIn malfunctioned, and invited all of my contacts -- yes, that would be everyone I have ever emailed from my Gmail account -- to be my "friend" on LinkedIn. This includes faculty, former friends and flames, and an assortment of random strangers who I'd interacted with once or twice via email, years ago. (Think "Craigslist.")

The downside? Eternal mortification.

The upside? Several faculty members, including the Dean of Annenberg and the head of Media Studies at UVA, accepted the offer to be "contacts." Perhaps they credit me with gutsiness that I don't actually possess -- or perhaps, in rapturous participation as enthusiasts of new technology, they think I'm a fellow web pioneer. One can only hope.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This reminds of a recent article I came across titled "Old People Facebook Disasters."

http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2008/09/29/old_people/index.html

I think they summed it up nicely: "...with great convenience can come great embarrassment."