Over the last several weeks, I’ve received several e-mails informing me that someone I know has requested my trust on Spock. Not knowing anything about it, I ignored them until I could find the time to investigate. Today I found the time — and I am impressed.
Spock is a search tool for finding people. But it is also a social networking and tagging tool. This combination makes it far more useful than other people-search tools and far more targeted than a broad search tool such as Google. For lawyers and other professionals, a key feature is the ability to claim yourself within search results and then enhance your profile with information about yourself — Web links, RSS feeds, tags and contact information. In other words, you have significant control over the profile that others see in their search results.
Another key feature is the ability to search by a variety of parameters — name, e-mail address, tags, location, age and gender, for example. Even better, you can search by description, such as “massachusetts lawyer” or “massachusetts divorce lawyer,” for example. Spock draws its search results from a broad array of sources, including social networking sites such as Linkedin and MySpace.
Another key element, once you’ve registered (which costs nothing), is your search network. You build this network in several ways. One is to establish a “trust relationship” with a person, generally someone you know (thus those e-mails I was receiving). Another is to import your contacts and make those names part of your network. You can import contacts from Outlook, Gmail, Linkedin, Plaxo, AOL, Hotmail and other sources. Once you’ve established a search network, you can confine your searches to this network, resulting in more targeted and relevant results.
Other features of Spock include:
- Tagging. You can add tags to yourself and vote on others’ tags. This establishes and strengthens relationships between people.
- Related people. Allows you to define connections between people.
- News. Keep informed of news about people in various ways, from the RSS fees they add to status updates Spock supplies.
Spock is a people search engine that emphasizes the “people” part. I see it becoming a popular tool for searching for lawyers, whether by potential clients or by other lawyers, as well as for researching parties, witnesses, experts, job prospects and business associates.