Monday, June 04, 2007

Digital Identity

Does anyone else feel like there are bits and pieces of yourself all over the Internet? First it was email addresses--you could get a free email address at dozens of places. I ended up with a Netscape email address for downloading the browser one year. (And, no, I do not remember it at all, and I never checked it--so if it still exists, it must be filled with spam.) Now it's social networking systems and Web 2.0 tools. I've got dozens of accounts on all sorts of systems. A couple of times I've gone to check out something that someone sends me ("You've got to try this!"), only to discover that I already have an account with them from their beta test. Plus the webpages I've designed, articles I've written, reviews I've done, presentations, videos, etc., etc., etc.

Now there is a new movement to claim your digital identity. Google is supposedly coming out with a content claiming system aimed, among other things, at avoiding copyright lawsuits over YouTube. (It's not out yet.) For the rest of us, while we wait, ClaimID provides a way of claiming and organizing our own materials. It's sort of an extremely flexible portfolio system, allowing you to link to items that have some connection to you. There are some built in metadata (about me/not about me, by me/not by me), plus fields that allow you to add keyword tags, descriptions, creator info, "relation" tags, etc.

ClaimID uses the MicroID protocol to allow you to "claim" webpages that you have direct control over. When you place a code in the head section of a webpage, MicroID allows a 3rd party server to verify that you have editing rights to the page. You can link to other pages, but only those into which you can place the MicroID coding will be verified as yours. So, for instance, I was able to claim this blog, because I can modify the head section, but I haven't figured out how to claim a hosted WordPress blog, because I don't have access to the head section in the hosted template. There are some plugins that work with various software, including WordPress, that allow that sort of modification, so if the MicroID protocol catches on, expect to see more verifiable content options all around the web.

I've added my publications and presentations, some of the webpages I've created, and some of the services that I use. As examples, presentations are "by me" but not "about me", my faculty homepage is both "by me" and "about me", and links to educational institutions are neither "by me" nor "about me" but are linked with a relation tag of "education", and tagged with degree info.

I'm also thinking of using the "private mode" to keep a list of the services and sites that I have accounts with, probably with the usernames (but not passwords--it's not that private) in the notes. For instance, I had completely forgotten that I had set up an account with Schtuff, a wiki hosting company, while working with the SummerTech project last year. I got an email from them announcing their switch to PBWiki, and I was completely surprised. What I'm going to try and do from now on is whenever I sign up with a new service, including testing, I'll put a private link into ClaimID. Later on, when I'm looking at a "new" service, I can check if it's really new to me, and when I'm looking for a service to do a particular thing, I can glance down the list to see if there is something I've already tried out.


Post a Comment

<< Home