Jon Aquino's Mental Garden

Engineering beautiful software jon aquino labs | personal blog

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Emailing a random contact (Plus: a webapp for randomizing any list)

It's good to stay in touch with your contacts. And you've got more contacts than you might be aware of. Consider all the emails that you have sent in the past year -- there's a hundred right there I'll bet. Many of these people you probably don't know too well -- and yet they are still important, because there is strength in weak ties.

How to stay in touch with all these people? It can seem overwhelming when you think about it. But a great solution to this and other problems about which you feel overwhelmed is good ol' randomization. And here's a web app I wrote to help you out. Simply paste in a list of your contacts (or any list of anything) and it will shuffle the lines for you. Pick the name at the top of the list, and send them an email, asking them what's the coolest project they are working on right now (even if you don't know them that well) (thanks to David Nunez for that excellent question). Because those weak ties become strong when taken as a whole.

You'll be receiving an email from me soon!


  • Nice one, Jon. I can always count on you to find a great use for a seemingly innocuous tool.

    I have long maintained that the secret to my networking success lies in weak ties. That link of yours confirms some of my suspicions that yes, my methods are validated!

    The primary games job to which I'm applying rests largely on the strength of one strong contact supported by 3 weak contacts. Fortunately, the company president has to confer with all of these contacts before deciding to hire me!

    By Blogger Darius Kazemi, at 5/05/2005 6:33 a.m.  

  • Hi Darius - I'm delighted to hear that networking has been a positive experience for you. Hope that games job comes through!

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 5/05/2005 8:03 a.m.  

  • Awesome idea, Jon! I always feel bad that I don't correspond more with my contacts - this is a way that doesn't put pressure on me or them. Kudos!

    By Blogger Iain Lowe, at 5/05/2005 10:45 a.m.  

  • Hi Iain -- Yeah, if you can't do everything, ya might as well pick out of a hat!

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 5/05/2005 12:28 p.m.  

  • I did receive an email from you Jon, thanks!

    one of my pet projects at the moment is to use game maker ( to make the curriculum more interesting for my students - it's been successful in attracting interest from other teachers, too

    your blog is very interesting - open source and useful tips

    By Blogger Bill Kerr, at 5/15/2005 7:51 p.m.  

  • Bill: Wow - GameMaker looks cool! (It's evidently some way for non-programmers to make professional-looking video games). I'll bet your students have a lot of fun with your creations!

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 5/15/2005 10:38 p.m.  

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