LinkedIn endorsements turn you into the product

This morning’s Observer column.

for much of my time on LinkedIn, things have been mercifully quiet. There’s been the odd connection request from someone I know; a persistent stream of annoying invitations (always declined) from total strangers seeking to add me to their “professional network”; occasional requests from ex-colleagues for recommendations; notifications of achievements, promotions, awards etc that have come the way of my contacts. Small beer, really.

Recently, however, baffling emails from LinkedIn began to trickle into my inbox informing me that so-and-so had “endorsed” me. What it meant, apparently, is that so-and-so had affirmed that I do indeed possess the skills that my profile claims I have. Not having asked anyone for such endorsement, I was initially perplexed.

Then the trickle turned into a steady stream. It seemed that everyone on my contact list had, somehow, been badgered into confirming that my online CV wasn’t fraudulent…