Microsoft and LinkedIn: Probably not good. Maybe not bad.

Oh, what to do about the Microsoft and LinkedIn deal? You may decide to delete your LinkedIn account, like Cathy O’Neil did. Or you may just decide to keep it, although unless you’re looking for a job, or looking for newhires, LinkedIn doesn’t really seem to have much value. I haven’t decided to delete my LinkedIn account–mostly because the data is already there, and even if I delete it, I’m sure it’s just “deleted.” I can choose not to use LinkedIn anymore, but I actually do have friends and contacts on LinkedIn, who aren’t on any other social media platform. Maybe I could start using email again. (Do the kids even call it “email” any more?)

When Microsoft bought Skype, it didn’t make any sense. The technowags at the time were calling it an attempt for Microsoft to appear cool, or monetize subscriptions or… they, like I, were just scraching our heads. Mostly, I thought it was stupid move by a company that had long lost its way. Maybe they had a crystal ball that would point to Messaging being the OS of the future. A little later, we found out that Microsoft, unlike Skype, was reading everything you wrote. Even later we found out that the real reason was that the NSA needed somebody to allow them into encrypted Skype, which at the time was a Swedish company. And what better way than to strongarm an American company rich in cash and that earns a large amount from government contracts? Maybe Microsoft was the only one dumb enough or amoral enough out of the Facebook/Google/Amazon/Apple/Microsoft techopoly to actually do it. It’s not like Microsoft hasn’t demonstrated a lack of business ethics before. Oh, well. That data got sucked into Prism long ago.

If Microsoft really does Clippy-ify LinkedIn, I’ll certainly delete (or “delete”) my account, but Skype is the only Microsoft product I actually use. I got off closed source OS train a long, long, time ago. I don’t really expect to be personally affected by the future integration.

“Predictions are hard, especially about the future.” My suspicions about the last stupid acquisition turned out to be not all that far of the mark. My suspicion about this acquisition is that it’s not nearly as nefarious: Microsoft wants social network graph data to work on and figure out how to monetize in a way that LinkedIn wasn’t able to. No matter what, LinkedIn was an American company subject to National Security Letters, so that data’s been sucked into Prism long ago, too.

Microsoft Research has spent a lot of money to get top researchers hooked on the corporate teat. Maybe the Microsofties just needed a new playground.


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