October 5, 2005

Subject of a Life Scrape

The past few months have been quite interesting to watch as I can see people doing a "life scrape" on me. A what? Yes, life scrape. This is somebody searching your digital being online. Let us say you meet a wonderful person at a happy hour and you start seeing a lot of traffic coming into your blog or other web property from a wide variety of inbound links in your referrer logs. You check your web access logs and see that many of the broad inbound links were the result of one IP address. This is a life scrape. Just like search engines will scrape a web page for its content a person's digital life can be scraped to get an understanding of who they are, for what ever the reason.

I am coming up on 10 years of having a personal website, blogging for 5, and have been commenting around the internet for more than 13 years. There is a fair amount of digital life to scrape. People could be doing this for due diligence (they are going to use me for work, hire me, write about me, or stalk me (white-hat stalking or black-hat stalking)), but I am never sure. The past couple of months I have been getting this confirmed by the people doing the life scrapes. I think the people doing the life scrape are a little more freaked out that I figured it was them (I sometimes know what search engine they have used because of the order the inbound links come in and the source of the inbound links). The web is not as anonymous as many think and with a little context (I met person X at a happy hour and they want me to help review a project for them) I have a decent idea of the probable suspects.

All of this is a part of having a digital life. It would be nice to be able to see all the inbound links for any information we as people have out there. We can examine the inbound traffic for our own websites, our RSS feeds, what others are saying, but we can't see who is hitting the external information. It is sort of the digital equivalent of having your ears ringing (somebody is talking about you says the old wives tales).



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