Fact checking the Jigsaw database

Summary:I saw my colleague Dan Farber's post yesterday about Jigsaw and how it already had 319 contacts for people that work at CNET Networks (the parent company to ZDNet). So, I thought I'd dive in to see if I'm one of them.

I saw my colleague Dan Farber's post yesterday about Jigsaw and how it already had 319 contacts for people that work at CNET Networks (the parent company to ZDNet). So, I thought I'd dive in to see if I'm one of them.  Accurate work contact information about me can probably be found in more databases, some of them online, than I can count. It stands to reason that I should be in there. So, I dove into Jigsaw (under the 14 day trial), narrowed the search down to people who work for CNET (under any title), and searched on "Berlind."

The results were not good. A listing came up under my last name, but it wasn't me.  It was my 16 year old son and he was listed as a production assistant that worked for CNET at an old address in Cambridge that CNET hasn't occupied for years. I racked my brains for a bit, trying to figure out how my son's name ended up in the Jigsaw database as an employee of CNET under the title of production assistant.

And then it hit me.

A few years ago, my son joined me for a trip to O-Reilly's OSCON in Portland and he helped CNET's TV crew while he was there.  It's the only time his name could have ever been associated with CNET and married to the title "production assistant." It really has me wondering about the source of Jigsaw's data. I'm pretty sure he didn't run his badge through any of those card readers at any of those booths at OSCON.  If he did, then the source of the data could be one of those booth vendors.  If he didn't, then the source of the data was O'Reilly or whatever company O'Reilly may have outsourced its data management to (if it outsourced its data management).

Either way, my little investigation raises a lot of interesting questions, not the least of which how much bad data will end up polluting Jigsaw's database. How funny is it that I'm not in there, and my son, who doesn't even work for CNET, is. Data accuracy is basically policed by the community of Jigsaw users (go to the site and you'll see how it works).  But I can see how this record would stay in the database in perpetuity because the only person that would really know to remove it would be me (which I can't do as a trial member -- another problem since, here I am with accurate data ready to fix Jigsaw's database, but it won't let me).

Topics: Data Management

About

David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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