Fingerprints, digital forensics and the impact we have which lasts far beyond our tenure

More than a decade ago, I posted on an internet forum under the pseudonym, “Han_solo,” my favorite character from Star Wars. Later, when I realized it would help my reputation, I asked Brett Tabke, the founder of WebmasterWorld, to update my handle to become, “jeremy_goodrich,” to ensure that people who looked up my reputation could find it easily. This was before LinkedIn, before social profiles were huge, before…a lot of things. When searching just now for one of the first academic algorithms that detailed issues with search results quality, IP addresses, Class C blocks and host affiliation…you can’t find my post on Webmasterworld. Try a search for, “Hilltop Algorithm,” it doesn’t show up in the top three on Google. However, when I look for, “Hilltop Algorithm Webmasterworld,” I find my post from 2001. This was before I had built a search engine in Perl and MySQL; before I had co-founded a social network that would be listed in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch and others.

When real world fingerprints fade, digital fingerprints last as long as the website stays alive

Having hired dozens of people for my own company, larger companies and during my consulting days, helping startups review talent…I fully appreciate people who put an effort into building out their digital footprint. I love learning and it’s sometimes hard to find people who are always in the mood to update their skills. This became one of my screening criteria which I used heavily in recent years because my goal, as a mentor, is that whoever I work with gets 10x better than I am in that particular task, area or skill.

Getting stuff done is very, very gratifying for me which is why I’m looking at early stage companies right now. A landing page win, where I wrote the control and the test copy, which I instrumented via Optimizely, Google Experiments or similar? YES! A short conversation, then a few days later, a dozen pages of copy with an information architecture practically guaranteed to help long term search (paid and natural) results? Count me in, twice. In a physical sense, I’m not nearly as hands on as my family. But digitally speaking, nothing makes me happier than to pull the trigger, see results, optimize and iterate. Every time I approach a new vertical, I generate hypotheses quickly and then chomp at the bit to start testing, iterating and discarding.

Not all the work I have done in my career is still visible on the open web; some can only be viewed by Websites created, sold, modified, re-purposed and more. If somebody has the digital savvy to do a full on forensic look up on a given individual, if you have been working online, it’s impossible to hide any aspect of your experience. Thank goodness for that; I’d prefer my work product to last a near infinite time frame.