Googling for people
According to founder Allen Searls, GlobeAlive "at its core aims at being the first opt-in, comprehensive, keyword-searchable database of people available for interaction on the web." This week Allen goes for a Big Passionate Argument to try and generate enthusiasm around this initiative: (emphasis mine)
[...] we need to remember that about half the population feels undiscovered (or at least not sufficiently discovered). Many people feel that too few people are looking for them to hear what they have to say, what they have to sell, what they specifcially specialize in, what makes them valuable. Most people would feel stupid advertising themselves, and yet know damn well they are the foremost expert on something (such as our Seinfeld-episode expert at GlobeAlive), and they probably are, but besides their immediate network, the rest of the world doesnít recognize them as such, even though the rest of the world needs them, they canít fill that hole, because they simply canít be found, at least not as easily as a web page on Google. [...]
The bottom line is that when we restrict our interactions to people we already know or the people that happen to be in the chat room or community we join, it's like restricting our information-gathering to the books in our personal libraries at home, it's a mathematical certainty that weíre selling ourselves utterly short. The island mentality is the root of this problem. Thereís an infinitely better way of going about our interpersonal interactions. It would change the web by making it live; it would change the economy by making it personal; it would change the world by making it smaller; and it would change you and I... by helping us meet.
While it's not clear to me that there's money to be made from this, it sounds like it would be a greatly useful tool from a collective standpoint. Making the cake lift seems like a major challenge, however, because it amounts to growing a culture of what we might call non-islanders: people who actually welcome calls from strangers. But given reasonable confidence that those calls will be filtered adequately, yes, that is something I would gladly participate in.
I suspect that the elicitation of keywords (that is, figuring out "What words precisely characterize me as a person?") and the formulation of queries (that is, figuring out "What words would precisely characterize the person I need to talk to?") will both be significant hurdles to overcome, however.
Finally, I note that blogging itself is actually in the process of making people as easy to find as web pages on Google -- it turns them into web pages!
Allen draws a slew of interesting connections to other initiatives in an earlier post.