Remember when you used to be WolfHound345 or Kitteh89 on-line? Those days are gone. Facebook was the first ‘casual’ social network to force you to use your real first name, real last name, and a picture of your own face as a picture profile. This has changed the way we think about on-line identity forever. People are putting masses of information about themselves on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
But what about identity systems? Will there one day be one true identity system for internet users? In his Five Easy Pieces of Online Identity blog post, entrepreneur, blogger and Twitter co-founder Evan Williams says:
While the big guys will keep getting bigger, I don't think identity will be "owned," per se—at least not on the open Internet. As we transition to a mobile-dominated Internet (and a more closed one), things are going to play out much differently, however.
For the time being, he defines five aspects of online identity:
Question Answered: Do you have permission [to get in]?
Online use: log in with a username and password
Offline Equivalent: Picture ID or keys, depending on method.
Examples: single sign-on solutions fail to get much traction, with the exception of Facebook Login and Twitter Login
Question Answered: Who are you? [or rather: are you here as a private person, or do you represent a company?]
Online use: individual or professional representation
Offline equivalent: Business card. (Also: Clothes, bumper stickers, and everything else one chooses to show people who they are.)
Examples: LinkedIn profile, Google Profile, About.me page
- Communication [or rather: contact details]
Question Answered: How do I reach you?
Offline Equivalent: Phone number.
Examples: used to be AOL's AIM, ICQ handle.
- Personalization [or rather: personal preferences]
Question Answered: What do you prefer?
Offline Equivalent: Your coffee shop starting your drink when you walk in the door.
- Reputation [sometimes called karma, kudos, whuffies etc]
Question Answered: How do others regard you?
Offline Equivalent: Word of mouth/references, credit agencies.
Examples: Ebay reputation as part of identity