LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner wrote an interesting post on “the future of LinkedIn and the economic graph“. There’s a lot to like about his vision. The part about making education and career choices better informed by data especially resonates with me:
With the existence of an economic graph, we could look at where the jobs are in any given locality, identify the fastest growing jobs in that area, the skills required to obtain those jobs, the skills of the existing aggregate workforce there, and then quantify the size of the gap. Even more importantly, we could then provide a feed of that data to local vocational training facilities, junior colleges, etc. so they could develop a just-in-time curriculum that provides local job seekers the skills they need to obtain the jobs that are and will be, and not just the jobs that once were.
I consider myself very lucky. I happened to like computers and enjoy programming them. This eventually lead me to an engineering degree, a specialization in Computer Science and a very enjoyable career in an attractive industry. I could have been similarly attracted by other domains which would have been unlikely to give me such great professional options. Not everyone is so lucky, and better data could help make better career and education choices. The benefits, both at the individual and societal levels, could be immense.
Of course, like for every Big Data example, you can’t expect a crystal ball either. It’s unlikely that the “economic graph” for France in 1994 would have told me: “this would be a good time to install Linux Slackware, learn Python and write your first CGI script”. It’s also debatable whether that “economic graph” would have been able to avoid one of the worst talent waste of recent time, when too many science and engineering graduates went into banking. The “economic graph” might actually have encouraged that.
But, even under moderate expectations, there is a lot of potential for better informed education and career decision (both on the part of the training profession and the students themselves) and I am glad that LinkedIn is going after that. Along with the choice of a life partner (and other companies are after that problem), this is maybe the most important and least informed decision people will make in their lifetime.
Jeff Weiner also made proclamation of openness in that same article:
Once realized, we then want to get out of the way and allow all of the nodes on this network to connect seamlessly by removing as much friction as possible and allowing all forms of capital, e.g. working capital, intellectual capital, and human capital, to flow to where it can best be leveraged.
I’m naturally suspicious of such claims. And a few hours later, I get a nice email from LinkedIn, announcing that as of tomorrow they are dropping the “blog link” application which, as far as I can tell, fetches recent posts form my blog and includes them on my LinkedIn profile. Seems to me that this was a nice and easy way to “allow all of the nodes on this network to connect seamlessly by removing as much friction as possible”…