It might seem obvious that the Internet makes finding a job easier. But oddly enough, that’s not what a number of economic studies have concluded in the past. One 2004 study, for instance, found that unemployed workers who search for jobs online actually stay unemployed longer than similar workers who didn’t.

(Rick Bowmer/AP)

So what’s changed? The Internet’s gotten more popular, mainly. In the past decade, the authors note, the share of young, unemployed workers searching for jobs online tripled, from 24 to 74 percent. More users make the network more efficient.

This calls to mind Kevin Carey’s excellent piece in the recent Washington Monthly about a new company, ConnectEDU, that’s trying to use the Internet to make better matches between colleges and students. The current admissions process, as Carey explains, is woefully inefficient—colleges often have no way of finding qualified students apart from blasting out mailers and clumsy college fairs, while kids often apply in scattershot fashion to too many colleges or go to unsuitable colleges. An Internet matching system—something akin to—could revolutionize all that. Although, as the studies on online job-searching suggest, it isn’t likely to succeed until the number of participants becomes very, very large.