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October 18, 2011

Chris Poole is so right about identity

Jon Mitchell at ReadWriteWeb reports on a ten-minute talk Chris Poole (founder of 4chan and Canvas) gave at Web 2.0. Chris argues that Facebook and Google are getting identity wrong. “Identity is prismatic.”

Being confined to a single identity on the Web is like a wiki accepting only a single final draft, only far more tragic.

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July 12, 2011

Google author markup

I’m trying out Google Authorship, a pilot project that identifies online works with the author’s Google Profile.”To identify the author of an article, Google checks for a connection between the content page (such as an article), an author page, and a Google Profile.” It seems like a good, straightforward idea.

Setting it up entails using “rel” tags to mark content as yours, and to point to a page that will serve as your home page as an author. Google wants your Google Profile page to be the authenticating hub. (I continue to insist that Google should have called Google Profile “Whoogle.”) The link can point to your G Profile but can also point to one of your own pages.

I’m only slightly conflicted about this service. It puts Google Profile further at the center of the identity ecosystem. (You must have a Google Profile to use the service.) On the other hand, the “rel” links can point to your own pages. On a third hand, it helps Google search users find your posts and disambiguates authorship, both of which I’m in favor of. So, I’m trying it. (Search for my name or for the title of a blog post to see it in action.)

Here’s a Google blog post about it.

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September 20, 2009

Some videos

Art Kleiner on how to create cultural change in large corporations:

Nadia El-Imam talks about whether the Web is changing who we are, starting with Couchsurfing as an example.

Robin Chase, a founder of ZipCar, explains why she thinks mesh networks will connect people, cars, and the “smart grid.” [article here]:

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May 1, 2008

Keeping ID hard, shameful, or at least awkward

A couple of days ago, a post on a Canadian newspaper’s blog gave me credit for something I didn’t do. Before I could leave a comment correcting the post, the site insisted I register. Registration there is free (in the “no cash changes hands”) sense, but it required me to supply not only my email address and name, but also my sex and age. It also permitted me to enter yet more demographic data, which I declined to do. I didn’t want to have to supply any info, but i really wanted to correct that post. It even made me confirm an email they sent to the address I registered, because, I suppose, otherwise the terrorists have won.

The experience made me worry yet again about the efforts to put individuals in control of their own identity information. That sounds like an unarguable good, since the alternative is unarguably bad: letting others have control over your identity info. But the effect of these good-intentioned efforts will be — I’m afraid — a rapid decrease in personal privacy. For, the personal ID efforts not only give us control over our information, they also make it easy for us to supply it to others. Rather than having to type in our home address yet again, these new ID schemes will enable us to furnish information simply by pressing a button.

Since just about every vendor on the Web would like to know more about you rather than less, why won’t just about every vendor ask for more information rather than less? It’s all just a button press. Of course, you can choose not to deal with vendors who ask for too much info, but most of us will compare that with the post we want to correct, the sweater we want to buy, or the vacation we hope to win, and will just press the button.

We are making it easier to supply personal information without making it harder to ask for it. That should worry us.

Since the efforts to give users control over their personal information will inevitably continue — and the who I know who are involved in this are among the greatest champions of Web openness and personal freedom — here’s a suggestion for making it harder for vendors to ask for more information than they need. Suppose we were to create some rough categories of “asks,” and give them unambiguous names. For example, we could call the ID info that does nothing but verifies that you are who you say you are when buying something the “Credit Card Authorization Swipe.” The “ask” that wants to know your name and email address could be called the “Email ID Swipe.” The one that wants to know your demographics could be the “Marketing Personalization Swipe,” etc. The aim would be to get vendors to use those names with some uniformity, so that we not only would know what we’re giving, but there might be some market pressure (or at least some shame) not to ask for the full demographic roster when someone’s just trying to correct an error in a post. These nomenclature packages could even be graded to indicate how invasive they are.

I’m just thinking out loud here, but if we’re going to make it easy to give out our personal information, we ought to be thinking about the norms, market forces, or rules that would make it harder to ask for that information.

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I’m on the road, so I may be pokey about replying. [Tags: ]

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