Unplugging Internet Identity
POSTED AT May 08, 2010  |   Uncategorized | 1 Comment
As generated by Angstro

Rohit's Social Graph

We’re coming up to the next Internet Identity Workshop (May 17-19) and with all the hubbub about the dilution in Facebook’s privacy policy (see Cory’s excellent post about it here), I had to add my 2cents to the fray.? Note that my blog posts are about as frequent as Halley’s comet, so it’s a reflection of how importantly I view this topic.

Currently identity on the web is a mess.? Your personal identity is fragmented between email systems like google/yahoo, social networks (FB, LI, Twitter), various messaging services (skype) and Apple with its unique blend of music/apps.? Each wants to own your identity and each is a separate walled garden.? As one of my mentors used to say “if you have a foot in two separate boats, there’s only one place you end up”.? Well, consumers’ feet today are in many boats and I keep hoping we’re at that watershed moment (pun intended) where something appears that forms a baseline for user-centric identity going forward.

The first open vs. closed battle on the web was AOL v. everyone when AOL tried to ‘own’ the keywords (there have been others since).? An a propos summary by MG Siegler recently on Techcrunch nicely depicts that battle.? MG makes a great observation around the inevitability of Facebook opening up or being opened up with something new… the question of course, is *what* is that something.

Having attended and spoken at two or three IIW workshops and having worked on Angstro with Rohit Khare for a while now, I think I can speak to what’s next in this identity game.? For the web to jump to the next level, it’s critical that we handle identity with some elegance.? Now, elegance unfortunately takes time to evolve in an open system – the ability for identity to be managed (think ‘published’) locally is critical to the success of the open web and it’s great to see the list of efforts warming up to that task.? Past a certain point, the internet community won’t accommodate a closed system.? A new layer is required that both allows easy access and lookupability (sorry) with protection and adequate privacy.? Simply put, the difference between an open and a closed system is access to the user ID.

The www.knx.to product that Rohit and I launched at the Techcrunch Real Time Crunchup was the first address book across all the social networks.? ? Yesterday, Rohit published a great post on Techcrunch about how to download your OWN information off Facebook.? The application to do that is at www.knx.to/dc.

The important and necessary idea is that users should be able to own their own data? – so the ability to store all your facebook info locally (and search/filter it) is one step towards this overall vision.

We have to be able to link to people the same open way we link to websites today.? And where back links on the web (via pagerank) created an entirely new market, back links on the social web will do the same… though probably a much bigger one.

For the sake of the overall innovation on the web, I hope we get unstuck from the current madness soon.

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One Response to Unplugging Internet Identity

  1. Csaba Szabó says:

    I stopped using my facebook account 3 weeks ago, due to personal security reasons. Two weeks ago, I had to log back again because of the social pressure, which was almost unbelievable. Thus I really appreciate if my data will be stored on my PC. I might be old school, but I have the same problem with cloud computing too. BR Csaba

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