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LinkedIn wants to map, improve the global economy

LinkedIn's CEO offers an abstract view of how the professional social network could use data to fill jobs and educate the workforce.

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, pictured left, talks about the company's desire to develop the "economic graph" at TechCrunch Disrupt. Screenshot by Jennifer Van Grove/CNET

Professional social network LinkedIn hopes to transform the global economy by mapping all the connections between the world's professionals, skills, jobs, companies, and universities, CEO Jeff Weiner said Monday.

"Our longer term vision ... is to develop the world's first economic graph," Weiner said during an interview at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco.

Weiner's graph terminology borrows from a concept popularized by Facebook and other social apps that talk about mapping the relationships between people, interests, or tastes with the intention of better understanding how people or things are linked to each other. In LinkedIn's world, the notion of understanding the interconnectedness between things is strictly applied to the professional world and, as Weiner describes it, for the purpose of bettering the economy.

LinkedIn, he said, wants to digitally represent every full- or part-time job, every skill, every company, every higher education institute, and every professional.

"Our goal would then be to get out of the way and allow each of those nodes to connect where it can create the most value -- or capital, all forms of capital: intelligent capital, working capital, human capital," Weiner said. "And in doing so we hope to play a role in transforming the global economy."

Weiner's vision offers an abstract and idealistic view of how the professional social network could use data to fill jobs and educate the workforce. Elements of the strategy can already be seen in products like the company's newly launched University Pages, which, in part, give students a cheat-sheet for career options.

LinkedIn counts an impressive 238 million members, 3 million active companies, and hundreds of universities, but it still has a ways to go before it can plot everything on one professional map.