Archive for the ‘Identity’ Category


How Microsoft got their Passport afterall

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A few hundred million is a steal for your identity, they’ve got plenty of money.

Microsoft and Facebook are in partnership, but what’s at stake? Three things:

1) Facebook knows who you are: your name, your gender, where you live, your martial and political status, sexual preference, age, where you work, the list goes on. The funny thing is, you’ve voluntarily given that information up.

2) The Graph: They also know who you connect to, who you talk to, and what you say to them (you don’t own those private message ya know).

3) Gestures: Sure, up to one third of all profile information is bogus, but what about those unsaid gestures: What people do is more important than what they say. What apps you use, how frequent, what and who you click on.

Great, but why does it matter? Because the new partner likely will have access to this very precious data.


[We once rejected Microsoft's Passport identity campaign, but we've potentially and unknowingly just handed it over]

Are they mining this information? With Facebook being a company of about 700 folks, it’s hard to imagine that they will. Their new advertising partner, (experienced pros) have the tools, process, and sophistication to do this.

Does Microsoft have access to all this information in day two after the deal? Not likely. But will they? Here’s a few reasons why it makes sense: Advertisers are all about margins and accuracy, the more accurate the ad, the less waste and more efficient the spend is. If Microsoft can target these ads right down to Jane in Santa Clara who is conservative and likely to buy X gidget then it could work.

How else can the data be used? For Marketers there’s a bunch of clever things they can do, if their community is in Facebook, why would you ever have them sign up for a registration form again? Just friend them or create an event page. What if you had the ability to export your network contact list via CSV?

Google still relevant?
What about Google? The killer in online advertising and search. There are millions of people using Google, and yet the Facebook audience is much smaller, and North America focused (for now). What matters is growth curves, it’s taking off near vertically.


[Google sells ads based on keywords, FaceSoft can now sell ads on something far more accurate: people]

What’s the next generation of online advertising look like?
What will these ads look like? At first, it will be the traditional forms we know, the banners, skyscrapers. Then they’ll move closer to the newspage, then the sponsored groups. The biggest untapped opportunity? Microsoft can bring the big name advertisers to the geeky kid in the garage who created that popular food throwing app. Geeky kids lack the sophistication to manage a big name advertising relationship or negotiation, but MS can.


[Don't be surprised if the popular Food Fight App in Facebook starts to include Chicken McNuggets, Pepsi's latest drink, and 'the Big Meaty' pizza from Domino]

Upside to users
Ads could become very targeted, very relational, and very social, the savvy brands will let go of the ads, and let the control move to the users. We’ll embrace them.

The takeaway

While the internet has rejected ‘forced’ identity systems from big brands, we willingfully (and often unknowingly) hand over incredibly detailed information about our precious identity. We’ve never seen an advertising system as potentially as sophisticated as this one. There’s many opportunities for the web to become more targeted, more accurate, and more relevant, but with that comes the risk of giving up some control.

Update:
Harvard’s Berkman center fellow Doc Searls has responded to this post, and gives a very user-focused perspective. He points out that Facebook’s users are not it’s customers, and that we should review the 7 rules of identity. Great to be all user-focused, there’s got to be way where all parties can work and benefit. Movements happen at the consumer level and most are sheep.

A Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web

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I’m an early signer to the Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web, a document whose goal is to give the data to users. Idealistic? Impossible? maybe, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t demand it. It takes more than a small group of loud thought leaders to make a movement work, it requires the entire user base to vote by their clicks and eyeballs.

Many companies want to horde their user data, a lock-in model is classic web. The savvy brand will realize that by building a website that users want, and letting them expand to other networks and having ownership, maybe, just maybe they’ll return.

The open-data movement is really about ownership, users want to own their data. The only way it will work is if you tell your website you want ownership. I suggested that users should have the ability to delete their own data if need be too.

Joseph Smarr has as post on the Plaxo blog, they’re building such a platform that will allow the movement of data, Marc Canter lists early signers, Scoble is in on it, and there will be plenty others.

Why Open ID needs Marketing Strategy

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Jan has had a bewildering experience using Open ID. If you’re not familiar with Open ID, it’s a tool that could provide one login system for the whole web (as we all get tired of remembering logins) in a secure and safe way.

I’ve said it in the past that I embrace the idea, but the implemention is too geeky. I’ve even suggested that Facebook will have their lunch, as there’s mass adoption, it’s aimed at consumers, and if they ever launch an identy widget, they win.

Jan’s suggestions to improve the Open ID experience are as follows:

“1. Redesign the OpenID home page for consumers. The page’s main content should contain a brief explanation of OpenID in consumer-friendly terms, along with a giant Get an Open ID button. Move all the developer material behind a Developers button.
2. Design an end-to-end process for getting an OpenID from a service operator’s site. Since most services won’t care which provider the user uses, let these services send the user into a real flow for picking a provider, getting an ID, and most importantly coming back to the original service to use the new ID. When they get back to the service, the new OpenID should be prefilled.
3. Give the above flow a sidebar titled “Do you have a blog?” that explains that, if they have a blog on LiveJournal, TypePad, etc., they can use that for their OpenID. A link in the sidebar should shunt the user into a page that has them pick their blog provider, then tells them what the (blog service dependent) form of their OpenID is. The flow should then return the user to the service they started on (again, with their OpenID prefilled).
4. Organize the list of providers around factors that can actually influence a user’s decision. Consider offering provider ratings based on ease of use, uptime, etc.
5. Refine reference designs for the complex range of cases that come up in using OpenID with a service. E.g., define the expected behavior and terminology that should be used when a user tries to log in with an OpenID but does not already have an account with that ID.
6. Define guarantees that services should offer to users in the event their OpenID provider goes out of business.
7. Build an organization that can do real usability testing on this service with real consumers.”

Other observations: Perhaps fixing the text heavy homepage so it’s aimed at consumers, the second sentence says “For geeks, OpenID is an open, decentralized, free framework for user-centric digital identity. OpenID takes advantage of already existing internet technology (URI, HTTP, SSL, Diffie-Hellman)“. That’s not a way to encourage adoption. The first sentence doesn’t even have a value proposition for the technology. Perhaps segment the homepage for two different users, with two different experiences. Visual demos would be great too.

There are tons of great products created by great people (I see them all over the valley, and at pitch labs) but if they don’t have a great way to get the word out, or encourage adoption many of these products get stopped at the shipping dock. Understanding the community that will adopt in the masses and really drive forward to the tipping point is important. Building the product that they want and deserve (and letting them know about it) is key.

I want to see this problem fixed, so these are just my suggestions, as I see improvements in this area, I’ll be happy to promote OpenID.

(and by the way, I’m not just throwing stones, we get a healthy dose of feedback at our company, and we read and absorb it all, even these helpful ones)

Update: Since then, this video has appeared, which may be a good step in communicating the value of Open ID, good job! (link via Marshall)

Plaxo hosts your important information…and Lunch 2.0

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Picture 419

(Above: Joseph Smarr of Plaxo (and Lunch 2.0 lets’ me Check his Pulse, the theme at Plaxo’s Lunch 2.0, around 300 attended)

Lunch 2.0 was hosted at Plaxo, which has recently launched a new platform called ‘sync’ and a product called Pulse. What’s the need? Personal information from your ‘real’ network of family, colleagues, and friends you actually know have their contact information scattered about the web. Plaxo is offering a flavor of Personal Digital Aggregation that lets you or another user update their contact info and it cascades across all systems, including mobile.

Plaxo has evolved very quicly in the last few years, from fending off a nasty brand attack, acquiring hipcal, and now launching their latest platform, which has social networking components.

Many may not know how this new social network platform is different than many others (or why it’s compelling) so I’ll you respond via the comment section below. Read their post Oh geez, not ANOTHER social network…

Recently, colleague Robert did an interview of Plaxo’s latest platform, check it out to learn more about Plaxo being the Switzerland of social networking.


Below are some pics I snapped during today’s lunch, yeah they have a lot of toys and provided a LOT of great food and drink. There was a (two) DJs, lights, drinks, and lots of games and toys, see pics:

Picture 376Picture 375Picture 446Picture 460Picture 458Picture 455Picture 452Picture 457Picture 439Picture 437Picture 440Picture 442Picture 401Picture 405Dessert BarPicture 412

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Joseph is alive, he’s pulse is quite fine.

Yet another reason why we need a single, trusted, and protected identity system

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Identity to compound as a problem as more tools launch
Identity is becoming increasingly important as more social networks as more tools launch. Here’s a few examples:

1) Chris Pirillo’s identity was kidnapped on Pownce, individuals may have not realize it was really Chris, perhaps spilling personal information to this imposter. This is a bad situation for Chris and everyone else, as now he may be compelled to register to every single application to confirm and own his identity.

2) Kathy Sierra was bombarded by unknown trolls, if there was a pre-registered login system, much of the nasty commenters could have been filtered out by a universal system.

3) Everyone has to sign up for dozens of social networks, and adding, and re-adding, and re-re-adding, and re-re-re-adding friends, family and folks to their networks.

Identity a frequent topic
As an industry we need a single identity and network systems, in fact this was discussed many times last night at the Techcrunch party. I know there are some tools and technologies out there, Tantek suggested Microformats could help, others have suggested identiyy widgets, or existing networks like LinkedIn, well, I suggested Facebook (I’m not the only one).

Market confusion
Many of the folks at the party last night talked to me about this, I asked them why don’t they adopt Open ID? A common response? “Like everyone else, we’re waiting for someone else to do it”

What’s needed?
We need a system that we can all trust where we own and can confirm our data and profile information, can control different privacy permissions within our network (friends, family, work, other) and give us the ability to remove, export or delete it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no pinko, I realize the importance of trust and why Microsoft’s Passport didn’t work.

Open ID slow to adopt
I realize that Open ID is one solution, but let’s get realistic, it’s not being adopted because it’s too geeky, maybe they need a marketing evangelist, or a mass consumer tool will need to be birthed. Please note, I’m not opposed to the tool, I’m just looking at the market around me.

What would success compose of?
1) Sound technology 2) Market trust 3) Evangelism 4) Adoption by key players

Chris, Kathy and all our problems will continue to exist, in fact compound, as more and more tools get released.