I wanted to like Hashable. At first it seemed useful to me: you can use it to document the people you meet, and to introduce others. It’s like Foursquare or Whrrl, except for checking in with people instead of into places. As it describes itself: “Every time you connect with someone – like having breakfast, drinks, or just running into a friend on the street – you can save it on Hashable — and build your true network along the way.”
But something about it rubs me the wrong way. A few things do, actually. For everything it does for you, there’s a price. Not in actual dollars and cents, perhaps, but in privacy and in business intelligence.
Introductions. Hashable lets you “introduce” two people you think should meet, and then track their interactions afterwards. Honestly: when have you needed a third-party service or app to introduce two people you think should meet? You can email them, tweet them, Facebook them. Or call them, or make sure they meet up at a conference or event you’re all attending.
But, Hashable would say, we present a snapshot profile of them to each other for you, thereby making it easier for the people you’re introducing to find out about each other. Perhaps. But it’s nothing that a quick Google or LinkedIn search can’t do. And it can’t replace the context or reason for which you’re making the introduction, which presumably you’d have to provide manually anyway.
Privacy. Do you really want a public record of everyone you’re communicating with, and when, and where? Have you no concerns about others knowing the companies or clients with whom you’re meeting, or the events you are (or aren’t) attending? Fine, Hashable says, keep the updates private. In that case, what’s the point? So you can look back and see who you met with? Can’t you do that via your own calendar, or Things, or Evernote? Why do you need to give a third party app/service that info? And if you’re only making some of your interactions public, isn’t that defeating the point of having connections see what you’re doing?
Well, you might argue, anyone could look on LinkedIn or Facebook or my Twitter feed and see who I know. Sure. But that’s different than knowing that you’ve met with them at a specific time or place. If you’re meeting with prospective clients or vendors or employers, you might prefer to keep that information discreet.
Commonsense. I work with a surprisingly large number of people I never see face to face. Our interactions happen over email, phone or online. Am I supposed to note it in Hashable every time I send an email or have a conference call?
Analysis. Hashable analyzes your connections and tells you who you interact with the most. Do you need a website to tell you that?
Convenience. Hashable says it gives you a unified online address book – everyone you know from Twitter, Facebook, webmail, etc. all in one place. Perhaps this could be useful. But I feel uneasy about giving Hashable (or anyone) access to my complete address book.
Endgame. What, exactly, is Hashable going to do with this goldmine of business information? What’s its business model? No one seems to know, and Hashable isn’t saying. In the meantime, I’m amazed at the number of seemingly savvy people who are happily handing over the keys to their contact kingdom.