Monthly Archives

3 Articles

Posted by Tom Cheesewright on

Identity crisis

One ‘internet of people’-related challenge that has been much discussed at previous Northern StartUps is identity. Who are you online? Are you your email or IM address? Your facebook profile? Your LinkedIn profile? Your blog or twitter bio? More importantly, how many more times do you want to have to confirm your identity and flesh out your profile?

Fears for privacy and oversight always come to the fore when issues of identity — on or offline — are discussed. But looking at the amount of information we all share already over the web, I’d be much happier having one or two profiles that I could control tightly rather than tens of disparate online identities.

OpenID solves the problem in part, but LinkedIn and Facebook hold much richer data. I’d prefer it if they decided to give me greater control over how my information is used, then opened up their information to other sites that wanted to access it — with my permission.

Seems to me it would save us all a load of time filling in forms, and hence reduce the barrier to acceptance for a lot of cool applications who currently build their own social networks as a delivery mechanism rather than focusing on their core value. The assumption has always been that it is by collecting user data that you will one day find a revenue model, but the experience of Facebook so far disproves that theory.

Posted by Tom Cheesewright on

Why Facebook is a Web 1.0 business

A slightly more structured (and less Guinness-fuelled) version of a rant I was having in the pub last night post NS20….

I believe that Facebook is fundamentally a web 1.0 business. Specifically it is a modern version of AOL and Yahoo’s portals.

These failed ideas wanted to be your single source for all your information and applications online. It seems to be that Facebook is currently trying to be the same thing: everything you want, as long as you go and log in on

The reality is that the web is naturally decentralised. Great ideas and applications rarely exist in the same location. People want and expect their ‘best of breed’ applications to be widely distributed, not locked in a single box. Likewise there’s no real reason for application developers to exist in a controlled environment when they have the whole web to play with.

Both the walled garden and the portal approaches have been repeatedly discredited over the last few years. So why won’t Facebook open up, look outside its walls, and see the value in connecting and sharing more? Executed correctly, I think this could be the answer to its revenue challenge.

Tom Cheesewright