Ever wonder what happens to all those business cards you hand out? Many of mine have ended up in Plaxo, but I am learning that some of my business cards have also ended up on Jigsaw, and if you are not familiar with Jigsaw, its time to start looking at where your business cards go. Jigsaw is a company that allows people to simply type in business cards, and then swap, buy and sell the data in those business cards to anyone in the Jigsaw network. The company sells itself as the "business contact marketplace" and if you use a full tag line on your e-mails, or hand out your business cards, users of jigsaw can simply enter your data into it. That is the catch, no one is going to ask you if it is ok to do this, they will just simply take your business information and poke it into Jigsaw's database. From there it is publicly searchable with out having to log in. So I did a search on my name and found a lot of folks who share my name all over the USA. To get more detailed information about the contacts though, you do have to have an account on the system. I personally never wondered where my business information went thinking that it is a good thing that I am handing out business cards that will sit on someone's desk, and only when they need something will they flip through a stack of cards trying to find me. I then have to hope that I am on the top of the stack of cards and not my competitors, but it is a worth while risk. Now though that someone can poke my business card into a database, and then it is globally searchable brings up both good and bad. It's good, because maybe someone searching for Information Security will stumble across my business card and give me a cold call. Its bad in that the cold call could be another sales person with the hottest deal of the year for one million bucks, and why wouldn't I buy the espresso machine option on that rack mount computer system. I am generally favorable to commerce, but this also explains why I get a lot of espresso machine calls when I deal with information technology. (Please if you are a sales person and you read this, find out what the company does, information security is not star bucks; we love coffee and highly caffeinated drinks, but really don't want to buy an espresso machine). (Note to readers, yes I get offers like this all the time, and generally have to say no, please don't call me again). User generated content comes in the context of risk that people have. If the person has a high tolerance for risk, they see nothing wrong with Plaxo or Jigsaw, or MySpace where they talk about the last time they got drunk. If the person has a low tolerance for risk, they avoid Plaxo, Jigsaw and MySpace like the plague. The problem is that my tolerance for risk and the person putting my information into one of these user generated databases may not be the same. I may see it as dangerous and annoying because I really don't purchase espresso machines, while someone else see's it as a way to make some money, get some new contacts, make new friends, and increase sales. Jigsaw states in their Overview that they: Jigsaw is an online business contact marketplace where marketers, recruiters, and sales professionals can get fresh and accurate business contact information. Members of Jigsaw provide a few pieces to the collaborative puzzle (business contacts), and then Jigsaw assembles them for the benefit of the community. Jigsaw's mission is to map every business organization on the planet, contact by contact and keep them current through a collaborative effort. The resulting database will help business people perform their jobs more efficiently and strategically. While the end result makes sound business sense, I am not sure that overall a good idea when they also state: Jigsaw is all about Business Contacts! Trying to get into a company but don't have a contact? Looking for a specific contact in a company you know? Prospecting for new contacts across an industry? Jigsaw contacts are purchased with points. You can earn points by: Adding Contacts** (5 Points+) Correcting Contacts (5 Points+) Referring others (125 Points) or buying them (5 points each) ** All contacts are added anonymously. It is that anonymously portion that worries me, I have no way then of differentiating between sales people who respect my information enough not to disclose it publicly, and those that have a higher tolerance for risk and think this is a great thing, where as I would disagree with that statement. Web 2.0 and user generated content brings about social transformation where people can pretty much so do what they want to do and do it on the internet. So if you are a member of the Jigsaw group, ask people before you enter their cards in this system, it's only the polite thing to do. And if they say no, respect that statement, you will forge much better business bonds by listening to your customers, and not turning them over to a system like Jigsaw without their knowledge and agreement.