Guest Post: Your Online Identity – Part 5

Guest Post: Your Online Identity – Part 5

I often say that one of my blog post is based on a conversation “with a friend”.  When I do that, as often as not that friend is Bojan Soldan.  I have had the pleasure of working with Bojan on several projects and can think of no one’s opinion who I respect more in the fields of social media, gaming and design.  The great news for those of you who don’t get to talk to him as often as I do is that he’s decided to bring those opinions (and some of his artwork) to the worldwide web in the form of his new blog,  His first technology related posts will be a fantastic seven part series about having a true online identity, and what that might mean for us, the end users.  I’ll be cross-posting that first series here over the next couple weeks for your enjoyment, but for the rest of his work you’ll have to visit him at

The parts of this series, to date:

Let’s take a moment to explore which parts of your Online Identity are currently owned by which players:

  • Amazon, Apple and other online retailers track your purchasing habits and history of items for which you’ve displayed interest
  • Google tracks your browsing history, or at the very least your search history
  • Google, Mozilla, Apple and Microsoft track your browsing history and your favorites, though they probably don’t do much with this information right now
  • Google, Microsoft, Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook track your personal and professional contacts
  • FourSquare, Gowalla and Facebook own your location information and the places you visit the most
  • StumbleUpon, Facebook, and Tumblr track the things you like
  • Facebook, Tumblr, and Google track your images and image tags

It turns out that a lot of the above companies are positioning themselves to own a larger share of your online life, and incorporating more information into what they already know about you. For example:

  • Google is working on a browser that would retain your identity by logging into the browser itself instead of individual sites
  • Rumors about a Facebook browser or Facebook phone have been going around for quite a while, ones that would integrate your social interactions into all of your online experiences
  • Facebook has already launched email and location aware services
  • Google is launching a social media platform to incorporate a social aspect into your use of Google services

The way things look like now Google and Facebook are the best poised to incorporate more of your day-to-day online activity into their platform, and thus build an identity out of your browsing life. Each player has certain things going for them that could give them the upper hand.

If you are a Gmail user, the type of permanence associated with your email address, as well as the variety of other Google tools that can be integrated into the platform such as Docs, and Picasa, Android and even Buzz sounds like it has a lot of promise.

Facebook on the other hand already has the photo management capability, the gaming and the social aspect covered. With email, and potentially a phone and browser, the combination could also be quite promising. On top of that, I would give Facebook a slight advantage because they are already based on a real-name concept, making it easy to extend the identity.

While this gets us closer to the concept of a true Online Identity, I had hoped the implementation would take a slightly different path.