Serendipitous meetups and I-know-you-so-well moves look so good in romantic comedies, so why have I been served so many restraint orders? Search and social sites have gotten sophisticated enough that I can pull off a good John Cusack boombox-over-the-head scene with your favorite song -- on date one. Here's how I can find out everything about you online.
1. Your favorite bands: Easy. If I'm lucky, you use or iLike to track your favorite music, or you're on a concert service like Sonic Living.
In any case I can rely on your MySpace or Facebook profile for what you've listed as your favorite bands. (I'll have to play safe and only count the newer bands, since you probably haven't updated in a year.)
But if I see you at the other side of a cafe, you might have iTunes on and be sharing your music. Jackpot!
2. Your age: MySpace and Facebook are obvious, but you probably hid your birthday on there. But you didn't hide your graduation year on LinkedIn. Subtract 21 or 22 years and I'm set!
3. Your school friends: Even if I can't see your friend list, I can probably find some schoolmates of yours on Facebooks who list you as a friend, and then I just need to cross-reference, maybe look at those classmates' snapshots for ones that include you. Naturally, this works better the more recently you've graduated.
4. Your other friends: And where you work, and so on and so on. Good thing you joined the "network" for your city on Facebook! Now that I've told the site I'm from the same city, I can see more about you without actually being part of any organization with you!
5. Whom you're dating: Gotta check if you're single, right? After a MySpace/Facebook check, I'll search for photos of you and a significant other on SmugMug, Flickr, Webshots, Zooomr, and other sites that let me search by names.
I'll check Technorati to see if you have a blog, even just a quiet LiveJournal. By that point I'll be searching not just for your name but for any user names you use on other sites. You didn't think a username would protect your privacy, did you?
If I still can't figure it out, I'll search for your description on dating sites like and eHarmony. God forbid I find that, because you've probably opened a bit of your soul up! Good thing you can trust the people you meet on the Internet!
6. Extra bits: Googling your name and digging down (maybe adding keywords like "date" or "angry") will unearth what others have written about you. I can find some serendipitous bits on Spock, a new people-search site, thanks to my beta account (though you can do the same to me if you join -- ask me for an invite at nick at lookshiny dot com).

Photo: Sumo gripp. Nick Douglas writes for Valleywag and Look Shiny. Like to stalk? Also see Stalking 2.0 at