KDnuggets : News : 2003 : n14 : item17 < PREVIOUS | NEXT >


Relationship data mining or Six Degrees of Exploitation?

Wall Street Journal (08/04/03) P. B1, writes about "Six Degrees of Exploitation?"

Bulkeley, William M.; Wong, Wailin

Visible Path, Spoke Software, and ZeroDegrees are readying software that can analyze the email correspondence, electronic calendars, address books, and instant-message buddy lists of a company's employees to trace their relationships with outside contacts that could potentially generate new business. Visible Path President Anthony Brydon says the proliferation of cell phones and 10-digit dialing has helped make relationship-mining programs more valuable by spurring users to computerize contact information rather than memorize the data. Visible Path's offering can, for instance, allow a company salesperson to find a co-worker with a potentially valuable outside contact; the software identifies the contact, but keeps the co-worker's identity anonymous. The salesperson can then email the co-worker a request to introduce him to their contact, which the co-worker can either accept or refuse.

Both Spoke and Visible Path's software boast denial options, which makes them less intrusive than earlier sales-software programs that tried to force workers into giving up their contact data, notes New York University telecommunications professor Clay Shirky. Another key selling point of relationship-mining software is its ability to evaluate the strength of the relationship between the worker and his contacts--Visible Path, for example, features a Relationship Mining Engine that assigns a stronger relationship if the worker possesses the contact's cell-phone number rather than just an office number, or if the contact responds regularly to the employee's emails. More sophisticated relationship-mining programs are expected to be able to find contacts separated by more than one degree. The privacy implications of such software are likely to provoke controversy, although Stan Wasserman of the University of Illinois joins Shirky in praising Visible Path for its privacy safeguards.

See www.visiblepath.com, www.zerodegrees.com, and www.spoke.com

KDnuggets : News : 2003 : n14 : item17 < PREVIOUS | NEXT >

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