Virtual Identity

July 20, 2006

Each of has an identity that is scattered across the web and also volatile. Joshua Porter writes about MySpace users and how they’ve invested a lot in creating their identity there:

That’s the pain point where identity comes in. When a new,   cooler hang out spot comes along, they’ll be gone, and all of their messages and profile information will be lost. Unless that information is stored in their identity domain…

For others, instead of myspace their blog page is their virtual identity, with links to all their sub-identities (other blogs, homepage, rss, delicious name, technorati name, friends in their blogroll).

Plaxo is a service which allows people to keep their contact info in a centralized place so when they change it their contacts all know. But their data, I think, is old-style address info, not virtual modern address info like rss feeds and delicious names.

Thinglinks is somewhere in this space, with a goal of providing permanent identifiers for things including people.

Microformat enthusiasts might argue for people having a homepage but marking it up with identity info (HCard, xfn) and then let crawlers come around and collect it up. In other words, store yourself in one place, not at myspace or some other world. Then theh question is ‘what is that place?’ Your work server? As we know, our workplace and/or webspace domain can change…might be a role for some organization like the Internet Archive.

My other thought on this is: do we restrict identity building to self-identity building, i.e., can only you specify information about you? This seems limiting– in the real world we construct our perceptions of people all the time. And in the virtual world, for some people, keeping track of all the things about them (articles, blog entries, etc.) could be a full time job.

Anyway, the system I’m buildling, peoplicious, is about letting the masses construct virtual identities for people. You can add a person, set their blog urls and delicious name, tag them (put into lists) and peoplemark documents onto them. I found Joshua’s article because I’d added him into peoplicious, set his blog, and put him in the folksonomists list.

Now the problem is peoplicious points directly at his blog, instead of somewhere permanent which lists his current blog(s) and which he can change (this is the idea with plaxo I think).

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One Response to “Virtual Identity”

  1. leafar Says:

    You should love that map.
    Great idea.


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