my personal blog

July 14, 2006

Decentralized Identity Building

Filed under: technology,thoughts — Tags: , , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 5:13 pm

Can you build a brand or forge an identity across many disjointed pieces of content and references across the Internet?

Anyone for whom the Internet has been a major part of life over the years surely has numerous posts and references immortalized throughout the Internet, and yet, what good is any of it if you can’t quickly refer to it? A single comment on a forum or someone’s blog might be inconsequential by itself, but after years of putting time and effort into writing good comments and posts, it develops into a body of work that could fill a book, or many books, and yet, it all disappears into the ether. Don’t you want to take that writing with you?

This is something that I’ve thought to myself over the years, but it hasn’t been until recently that any sort of infrastructure has come about to let you manage your online identity. Using claimID, I’m able to list every site for which I have a profile, and sites which refer or link to me. This is the start of building a cohesive online identity. Still, I can’t exactly link to and verify every single comment I’ve ever made. Still, it’s a start.

Building a Brand out of Your Identity

My last name is distinctive in that it is not Smith, or Gonzalez, or anything common in any country. Partially because I like my last name, I decided to truncate my first name and append that to my last, creating the asurroca name which has become my online identity. When I first registered the domain, I created a logo for myself as well, seen below as taken from my Myspace profile:

asurroca logo

my buddy icon on flickrAfter I became a Flickr addict, I decided to use a single photograph to represent my identity across every service for which I have registered. The photo to the right has become part of my personal “brand” and appears on every page linked from my claimID profile.

By using the same photo and the same user name every time I sign up for an online service or post at someone’s blog (thank you gravatar), I’m more able to forge all these posts into a single a cohesive identity. I’m not seen as ASurroca on one profile, SomeRandomDude3490 on a forum, and x0osTuPiDtEeNaGeRo0x on AOL Instant Messenger. I’m seen as ASurroca everywhere I display content or information.

By doing this, I’ve enabled users to better build an understanding of who I am than a mere Google search might provide. It is fortunate to me that my name is unique enough that there appears to be no other Alfonso Surroca out there, but especially if your name is very common, it helps to create a cohesive online identity. You don’t want people mistaking you for someone else, and while you can’t really prevent that in real life, creating a cohesive online identity at least gives you this power online.

Where to Go From Here?

I’m making it easier for people to make the connection between my reputation on one site and on another by keeping things the same across all of them. To further add to my online identity, I’ve even dug up some ancient stuff I’ve forgotten about by Googling myself, and added it to my claimID profile.

I think the next step is for a social networking site that allows you to aggregate every piece of content create online into one place. So far, the best I’ve found is (yes, I’ve got a profile there too). I’m talking about a system which knows and tracks every comment you’ve ever left on a blog or forum, and archives them all in one spot so that a user can really get a picture of who you are online.

Perhaps if someone can combine Open ID with microformats and social networking, we can start talking about Web 3.0.

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