Monday, March 2, 2009

Digital Identity

Wide vs. Deep

I think of digital identity as the sum total of your digital information. Normally when I use this term I am limiting this to information which is available online.

In a social network like Facebook I see your digital identity as being your profile at a minimum. Then it starts to get wider. After you use Facebook for a while you might have added photos, videos or updates. These broaden you digital identity.

You might also have a Flickr account, a YouTube account, a Twitter account, etc.

In each of these accounts you would have a profile and other shared content.

You digital identity is getting much wider.

Since all this information is either available to everyone or everyone in a group I think of this as your top level of digital identity. Like the Missouri River it can be a mile wide and a foot deep.

I think depth in digital is the level below this. Depth is defined to me by your ability to own and control your digital identity's privacy and security levels.

With most current social networks you can only share on a secure level with other individuals if you set up unique closed accounts with just the two of you or unique groups with just the two of you.

Depth will be available to your digital identity when you can share anything with any selected other digital identity from within a single online account. This will become very important for business and commercial relationships.

I may have said this before, but it is on my mind today again - so, current social web platforms are like going to a party. It is great to share with everyone. But there are many times when you need to leave the party, go into the library say and close the door to have a private conversation. This is depth.

The first tools that enable depth will be less interactive than you may wish. They will provide the ability to share privately and securely static documents and media. They will not allow those documents and media to share data with other applications.

The goal of data portability will be to grow over time to allow you to release selected digital identity pieces to not just other people, but to other applications. As this grows we will begin to see the promise of networks blossom.

Have any of you found services doing this yet? I would love to learn about them.

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