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.