Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Tracking Down People with a Little Help from the Internet. (Personal Computing)

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Tracking Down People with a Little Help from the Internet. (Personal Computing)

Article excerpt

You can find a mind-boggling amount of information on the Internet about virtually every conceivable subject. However, you can't find everything, and sometimes you have to use traditional offline sources, such as books and libraries.

The same is tree with people. The Internet makes it easy to find people, but you won't he able to find everybody.

The Internet offers many people-searching tools, whether you want to reconnect with those from your past or find employees, contractors, consultants, suppliers and others to help you solve current problems.

One of the Internet's more intriguing people-quest applications is alumni searching. The Internet's forte has always been bringing people together, and the second most popular site in terms of paid subscribers on the entire Internet is Classmates Online, according to the market research firm Intermarket Group.

Classmates, at , can connect you whether you're formally involved in planning a reunion or just want to informally reminisce with old chums you have lost touch with.

Launched in 1995, Classmates is a Web old-timer. More than 32 million people have registered with it, and more than 1.7 million people have paid to receive additional features, says company representative Karli Overmier.

It's free to register, to include your contact information, and to look for old classmates. A fraction of the people in any given class will have registered, however. I found that 85 people from my high school graduating class of about 500 students had done so.

If you want to contact old classmates, you have to become a "gold" member, which costs $36 per year. About 5 percent of people who have registered have done that, Overmier says.

Classmates tries to maintain tight control over the communication process. You send a message through the Classmates Web site to whomever you want to contact. Classmates sends an e-mail message to your recipient, indicating he or she can read your message at the Classmates Web site. When your recipient reads your note, you get an e-mail message from Classmates about this. If your recipient responds, you get another e-mail from Classmates indicating you can read his or her response at the Classmates Web site. You can of course exchange e-mail addresses at any time.

I sent a message through the site to 10 old classmates. …

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