Trendlines From April 1, 2008: New, Hot, Unexpected

In this issue: New York Talk Exchange maps telecommuting traffic; Vanity Googling pays off professionally; Microsoft implements energy-saving strategies; American companies embrace mobile apps; Retailers see the value of BI; Tech CEOs press Congress for R&D funding; EDS breeds future CIOs.

Wired to the World

Telecom: New York City is known as both the epicenter of global business and the city that never sleeps. And, thanks to a new research project led by MIT's Senseable City Laboratory, anyone can see visual representations of why those reputations are true.

The project is called New York Talk Exchange, and it shows the daily telecommunications traffic coming into and out of New York City. That traffic data, a combination of Internet protocol (IP) and voice communications, is represented on three large visualizations that hang in the Museum of Modern Art exhibition "Design and the Elastic Mind." They also appear on the Senseable website.

The project "reveals how New York connects with the network of global cities," says Carlo Ratti, director of the Senseable City Laboratory and associate professor of urban studies and planning at MIT. In looking at the city's data flows, which come from AT&T's networks, Ratti and his team discovered the complex and varied connections New Yorkers make with the rest of the world. "The pulse of the planet, with its different time zones," he says, "is also the pulse of New York."

Globe Encounters is the first visualization. It uses 3-D, real-time animations and glowing virtual lines to illustrate New York's connections to other cities—a sort of "globalization in real time," according to the team. The greater the glow, the greater the amount of IP traffic. The second, called Pulse of the Planet, reveals how those connections change over the day. It shows how the city follows a 24-hour schedule, as if it were always awake to connect to the rest of the globe, according to the project overview.

The last visualization, The World Inside New York, examines the five boroughs, demonstrating how global connections vary by neighborhood. The team calls this "globalization from the bottom." For example, Mumbai ranks 24th as the origin of calls into Manhattan and 11th in calls into Queens. Toronto is a main destination for calls out of Manhattan but accounts for just 1 percent of calls from the Bronx. Columbia University professor Saskia Sassen notes in the project catalog, "The striking piece of evidence coming out of this project is that global talk happens both at the top of the economy and at its lower end."

Using British Telecom data, the team also compared the relative connectedness of business rivals London and New York. The data shows New York has more reach into Asian and South American business hubs, such as Beijing and Bogota. London reaches more into Europe and the U.S.

The team will also explore how the structures of global cities evolve, the dynamics of globalization and whether more data transfers across the globe affect travel. The exhibit runs until May 12.

-Thomas Wailgum

It Pays to Track Your Reputation Online

Career:: Take a good, hard look at what you find the next time you get that urge to Google yourself. What others have to say about you online—or the pictures or videos that they post—could come back to haunt you professionally.

Eighty-three percent of executive recruiters use search engines to learn about candidates, according to an ExecuNet survey. Forty-three percent of recruiters have eliminated candidates for jobs based on information they found about the candidates online.

With those statistics in mind, it behooves you to conduct regular searches of your full name on the Web to find out what, if anything, is being said about you, say Kirsten Dixson and William Arruda, personal branding consultants and authors of Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand. Managing your reputation is an absolute necessity in a world where it's easier than ever to post or find positive and negative information about an individual.

If you find negative information, Dixson and Arruda recommend trying to have it cleaned up or removed. "If you can't," they say, "add your own positive content alongside it and let readers draw their own conclusions."

And while you're messing about online, establish a profile on a social networking site. Sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Ziggs are excellent ways to create or expand one's online identity and network at the same time, say Dixson and Arruda. If used appropriately, they can also provide you with an opportunity to put your best foot forward online with recruiters and potential employers.

"To get the most out of these sites, make sure your content is consistent across all of your profiles and matches your resume," they say.

-Meridith Levinson

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