Pipl is as good as it is scary. It knows way more about all of us than we may care to reveal.
Since most personal profiles, public records and other people-related documents are stored in databases and not on static web pages, most of the higher-quality information about people is simply "invisible" to a regular search engine.
What does a Pipl search look like?
Search results display a categorized one-page report with links to:
- profiles on social networks (MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Amazon, etc),
- databases like Hoovers and LexisNexis
- the Security and Exchange Commission
- Web pages
- published documents
- blog posts
- Flickr (and other) photo portals
- public records (including property records)
- vital stats databases
- e-mail addresses
- phone numbers
The report also summarizes “quick facts” about the person searched.
What is Pipl good for?
Obviously, we can use this site to locate former classmates and old flames. I’ve been thinking about some less obvious K12 purposes. For instance:
- Once students identify a list of experts in a subject area, they might search the experts Pipl to find their blog sites, articles, even potential mentors to contact via email or phone.
- Students might use this tool for biographical searching. My students often need information about newer authors to include in their annotated works cited. When information is not available in Contemporary Authors, this may just do it. This search would work for emerging notables in all disciplines.
- For really clever researchers: If you find a killer article by a particular author, it is possible that other killer documents would be available via a Pipl search of that author.
- This is a far more powerful tool than Google for assessing digital footprints and for checking issues relating to privacy. We can have our students see just what is findable about them, including images. What would a potential employer or an admissions officer be easily able to discover? I am planning to add this activity to my unit on college searching with our junior class.