A couple of months ago a friend of mine changed jobs and went to work with some mutual techie acquaintances. What made this job interesting to me was the confidential nature of the project and how little he was allowed to say about it. In one of my flippant comments I mentioned that if I REALLY wanted to know I could find out what he was working on. And the bet was made.
I had a little bit of an advantage, I knew him, I knew a couple of his co-workers (all close-lipped buggers when it came to their projects) and I knew their email addresses and del.icio.us handles - and from this I went on a little trip. Watching what they posted to del.icio.us during the day (people feel a little less guilty about tagging stuff for work during work hours), looking at where their email addresses appeared (I got lucky and found a logwatch filter one of them had wrote for an application server - which was a nice pointer) and, by complete fluke, spotting two of them in a conference photo a mate forwarded to me. I had a number of areas they all seemed to be interested in.
After applying a little bit of filtering, anything hitting the front page of del.icio.us was was ignored, dropping anything relating to their CPAN modules, freshmeat projects and, in one case, published articles, I was left with what looked like an application stack. And some pointers to the vertical industry they were working in.
So where am I heading with this? Well first of all, curry bought by someone else always tastes nicer than curry you’ve had to pay for! Secondly, I was surprised by how little effort it took to see what they were interested in with regards to both work and personal projects - even without them writing blogs.