Hung Truong: The Blog!

Spock – Person Search Engine Beta Impressions + Invites

June 20, 2007 | 2 Minute Read


So I got a Spock invite from Jessica Mah and I just started trying it out today. It’s a search engine specifically designed to find people. So you type in a name, or a tag, or some other query and you’re supposed to get people as results.

The Spock about page says:

Spock is the online leader in personal search, helping users find and discover people. With over one hundred million people already indexed and millions added every day, Spock is building the broadest and deepest people specific search engine.

And that’s about all it says. Pretty sparse. I don’t even know what their actual purpose is. Is Spock for helping people stalk others? Myspace is better for that. Is it for building business connections? LinkedIn is better. Social networking? Either Facebook or LinkedIn, depending on how you’re networking.

For more famous people, Spock shows a decent amount of aggregated info. Like for Eddie Murphy, you get tags, photos, and links to imdb and whatnot. For less famous people, all you get is the info that’s already available from whatever site the info was scraped from.

Most peoples’ info is scraped from sources like LinkedIn or Myspace. This doesn’t really add anything useful, since you could just find those profiles on the respective sites. For example, let’s say that you want to find me on Spock. You’ll type in my name, and you’ll be presented with a bunch of Hung Truongs. You probably know something about me, so you’ll use the info that Spock has to figure out which Hung Truong is me. But since you know that much about me already, chances are, Spock won’t be telling you anything you don’t already know about me… Useless.

There are already many sources to gather information about people online. Spock just aggregates this stuff and doesn’t actually add any value to the information. In addition, there’s probably all sorts of privacy issues that need to be dealt with if Spock gets to the open beta phase. Google does a good job of removing sensitive personal info if people request it. Spock might not be so kind.

The most interesting thing I found while looking around at Spock was the $50,000 Spock Challenge. Basically, Spock is holding a contest to get developers to solve the problem of Entity Resolution and Extraction. EG how do you know a page is about Michael Jackson the pop singer vs the football player. I’m pretty sure the answer involves Bayesian statistical analysis. But I’m not about to spend my time to solve a problem for a startup that I don’t believe in.

Oh, I have 101 invites to try out Spock. So if you want one, leave a comment and I’ll email it to you. If I get around to it!