How Facebook Connect Points the Way Towards Velvet Rope Networks

Look at this screen capture from the DEMO Live implementation of Facebook Connect:

Demo Live

Make Social Sites Easily With Facebook Connect

I’ve seen similar from CNN.com, from Fancast (client), and others. This integration is happening quite often. I think there’s something more to it.

What’s been accomplished here is pretty interesting. Facebook is saying “don’t bother building a social network from the ground up. Just use everyone’s existing Facebook profile with your special event/project.” This makes building an event experience really simple, provided that your users are already Facebook customers, and with millions of these, it’s a more likely event these days. It means, though, that you’re giving up a lot of information and control (and not in the easiest-to-accept ways).

The Drawbacks

Though there are advantages to using Facebook Connect for integration, there are some drawbacks, mostly from the marketer’s point of view. If you build out a social network project using Facebook Connect, Facebook gets all the information and you get none. You don’t get a database of users. You don’t get a way to message people participating in your event, except for “in stream,” the way everyone else is using the app. You don’t have any sense of demographics, nor any control abilities to block trolls or other unwanted types.

What I Want Instead

Instead of Facebook Connect, where Facebook gets to keep all the data, makes you relinquish all the control, and leaves you with only the “gooey content center” on your side of the proposition, I think someone will soon create a “universal profile.” This profile will allow me to choose what I expose to whom, with something like a “profile view” for various facets of my persona (work, life, clubs, family, etc). Thus, this key (and no, it’s not exactly OpenID, but that’s close) will allow me to slot into various content spaces, not unlike the DEMO conference above, such that the event organizer gets a sense of who I am, and I feel comfy sharing some level of my credentials.

I think Facebook Connect is the first obvious implementation of this. I don’t think it’s what really comes out in the long run. Instead, it’s a good model from which to implement, to improvise, and improve.

What do you think?

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  • http://www.dayetime.com Jason

    Fascinating, for sure, but I agree with you… this is just scratching the surface of how social networks will be integrated into other sites and campaigns.

    I too believe a universal profile will be coming in the near future. If I were running Facebook, not only would I be incredibly wealthy :-), but I would try to develop the idea of a universal profile using the FB platform. I see it as a definite win… it would probably convince the 36 people who are not yet a part of FB to join and would further establish the FB dominance in the social network space. I feel they would be the best company to develop the universal profile and release it into the wild…

    Great post…. thanks!

    Jason
    http://www.DayeTime.com

  • http://twitter.com/AlexDeGruven Nathan

    I think it’s a good start. Social Media is still in its infancy. People are just now learning how they can leverage its power, and even still just learning how powerful it can be or become.

    What Facebook and others like it are doing is creating exactly what you specify: A way to aggregate your online persona into one entity.

    These are just the baby steps. Things will start running soon enough.

  • http://www.dayetime.com Jason

    Fascinating, for sure, but I agree with you… this is just scratching the surface of how social networks will be integrated into other sites and campaigns.

    I too believe a universal profile will be coming in the near future. If I were running Facebook, not only would I be incredibly wealthy :-), but I would try to develop the idea of a universal profile using the FB platform. I see it as a definite win… it would probably convince the 36 people who are not yet a part of FB to join and would further establish the FB dominance in the social network space. I feel they would be the best company to develop the universal profile and release it into the wild…

    Great post…. thanks!

    Jason
    http://www.DayeTime.com

  • http://twitter.com/AlexDeGruven Nathan

    I think it’s a good start. Social Media is still in its infancy. People are just now learning how they can leverage its power, and even still just learning how powerful it can be or become.

    What Facebook and others like it are doing is creating exactly what you specify: A way to aggregate your online persona into one entity.

    These are just the baby steps. Things will start running soon enough.

  • http://www.chasingchange.blogspot.com Nate Riggs

    Right on Chris. I’ve been dying for someone to develop some type of universal profile for some time now. Most social networks have similar organization and profile feature sets. A bank where I could store and organize all my personal info and then set up what networks I wanted it to push to would save so much time and make updating much easier.

    But would this concept only work then on profile-based networks like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn etc? It would be tricky to adapt it to a micro blogging concept where the profile is less important than the updates. Any ideas?

  • David Wanika

    Boy, wouldn’t creating a universal profile, layered with your information be wonderful. It could foresee it having so many global uses! Can you imagine having a single profile that could be used to for personal or business; loan applications and job interviews. And a thinner layer of the same profile for a less structured SM.

    By allowing users to layer in the amount of information they divulge, it would probably speed up adoption of the produce, but it will for sure take some major security (and a great deal of trust by us all). Ah, but all the best tools take time to develop, maybe Chris you have thought up the next greatest thing! Great post!

  • http://www.chasingchange.blogspot.com Nate Riggs

    Right on Chris. I’ve been dying for someone to develop some type of universal profile for some time now. Most social networks have similar organization and profile feature sets. A bank where I could store and organize all my personal info and then set up what networks I wanted it to push to would save so much time and make updating much easier.

    But would this concept only work then on profile-based networks like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn etc? It would be tricky to adapt it to a micro blogging concept where the profile is less important than the updates. Any ideas?

  • http://davidwanika@wordpress.com David Wanika

    Boy, wouldn’t creating a universal profile, layered with your information be wonderful. It could foresee it having so many global uses! Can you imagine having a single profile that could be used to for personal or business; loan applications and job interviews. And a thinner layer of the same profile for a less structured SM.

    By allowing users to layer in the amount of information they divulge, it would probably speed up adoption of the produce, but it will for sure take some major security (and a great deal of trust by us all). Ah, but all the best tools take time to develop, maybe Chris you have thought up the next greatest thing! Great post!

  • http://logicalextremes.com/ Logical Extremes

    I think you’re absolutely right about the need for an open interoperable connection scheme. The commercial schemes (Facebook, Google, etc.) bring an instant audience and identity, but don’t give enough control to users and don’t truly deliver the network to the site. There’s a post-Facebook world waiting out there, where users can share content on commercial sites or on their own domains and hosts, and connect with open protocols that allow fine-grained controls of what identity information to share, and with whom.

  • http://logicalextremes.com/ Logical Extremes

    I think you’re absolutely right about the need for an open interoperable connection scheme. The commercial schemes (Facebook, Google, etc.) bring an instant audience and identity, but don’t give enough control to users and don’t truly deliver the network to the site. There’s a post-Facebook world waiting out there, where users can share content on commercial sites or on their own domains and hosts, and connect with open protocols that allow fine-grained controls of what identity information to share, and with whom.

  • http://www.aaronhockley.com Aaron B. Hockley

    As you noted, the downside to Facebook Connect is, well, Facebook. They own the game and the data. One of the goals of the open stack (including OpenID) is to provide an open system for data sharing. Right now there’s a lot of work that’s in proof-of-concept stage. OpenID providers can store profile data and share that data (with permission) with OpenID relying parties. It’s not being done much (yet), but I hope and suspect we’ll start seeing more data portability based on open standards soon.

  • http://www.aaronhockley.com Aaron B. Hockley

    As you noted, the downside to Facebook Connect is, well, Facebook. They own the game and the data. One of the goals of the open stack (including OpenID) is to provide an open system for data sharing. Right now there’s a lot of work that’s in proof-of-concept stage. OpenID providers can store profile data and share that data (with permission) with OpenID relying parties. It’s not being done much (yet), but I hope and suspect we’ll start seeing more data portability based on open standards soon.

  • http://stepchangegroup.com Crystal Beasley

    Facebook Connect is the trail blazer in introducing the concept of single sign-on to the masses. This is a very new and confusing concept that will take some time for users to understand and adopt.

    Certainly, this is a compelling way forward, eliminating the need to recreate account with the same info in many different silos. However, the user still has to enter email, address, etc if needed to complete an ecommerce transaction. The long rumored ecommerce module could possibly solve this shortcoming, but the larger question of whether sites will be willing to bet their business model on Facebook remains. All of the FB Connect sites we have built so far have incorporated “standard” accounts as well, even with the added complexity of supporting dual login methods.

    FB Connnect is a rapidly evolving API that promises much. There will be some inevitable bumps, but I’m optimistic about where social powered sites will take us.

  • http://stepchangegroup.com Crystal Beasley

    Facebook Connect is the trail blazer in introducing the concept of single sign-on to the masses. This is a very new and confusing concept that will take some time for users to understand and adopt.

    Certainly, this is a compelling way forward, eliminating the need to recreate account with the same info in many different silos. However, the user still has to enter email, address, etc if needed to complete an ecommerce transaction. The long rumored ecommerce module could possibly solve this shortcoming, but the larger question of whether sites will be willing to bet their business model on Facebook remains. All of the FB Connect sites we have built so far have incorporated “standard” accounts as well, even with the added complexity of supporting dual login methods.

    FB Connnect is a rapidly evolving API that promises much. There will be some inevitable bumps, but I’m optimistic about where social powered sites will take us.

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  • http://twitter.com/andreasnrb Andreas

    Another way could be that you have one place for all your networks that you belong to.
    You join easily just as following people on Twitter.
    One need to easily separate various communities in this interface. Niche communities/service are the future and they need to be simple to use and join.
    A universal profile such as you suggest is one part of it but it should be self hosted such as OpenID can be.

  • http://twitter.com/andreasnrb Andreas

    Another way could be that you have one place for all your networks that you belong to.
    You join easily just as following people on Twitter.
    One need to easily separate various communities in this interface. Niche communities/service are the future and they need to be simple to use and join.
    A universal profile such as you suggest is one part of it but it should be self hosted such as OpenID can be.

  • http://taylor-and-associates.com/taylors-internet-marketing-blog Allen Taylor

    It’s a good idea, though I think the challenge right now is scalability. I’m not real fond of OpenID because I think it is likely hackable and potential security risk. Where before you had to remember a hundred passwords, hackers had to go to a hundred places to steal your identity. With OpenID, they only have one place to go.

    But what I like what you are describing. That’s what I long for as well. If it can be scalable and if I, as a user, can choose which parts of my profile I want to share with each site or publisher that uses the network, it can be useful. By the same token, as a publisher, I’d like to be able to build a list from the network users who choose to share their information with me. With Facebook, as you say, I’ve lost an element of control. I lose, both as a user and a publisher.

    Google Connect seems to suffer from some of the same problems as Facebook with one difference. My profile can be shared across a swath of publishing websites instead of proprietary to one. But the problem there is there is no discriminatory way for me as a user to choose what information about myself I can share with each publisher in the network. I sense that Google wants to move in that direction, but their open source implementation thus far is very limited.

    I’d be curious to know how you feel about the various lifesourcing sites and how close they are to achieving this type of network? It seems that would be the most likely trail to social nirvana.

  • http://taylor-and-associates.com/taylors-internet-marketing-blog Allen Taylor

    It’s a good idea, though I think the challenge right now is scalability. I’m not real fond of OpenID because I think it is likely hackable and potential security risk. Where before you had to remember a hundred passwords, hackers had to go to a hundred places to steal your identity. With OpenID, they only have one place to go.

    But what I like what you are describing. That’s what I long for as well. If it can be scalable and if I, as a user, can choose which parts of my profile I want to share with each site or publisher that uses the network, it can be useful. By the same token, as a publisher, I’d like to be able to build a list from the network users who choose to share their information with me. With Facebook, as you say, I’ve lost an element of control. I lose, both as a user and a publisher.

    Google Connect seems to suffer from some of the same problems as Facebook with one difference. My profile can be shared across a swath of publishing websites instead of proprietary to one. But the problem there is there is no discriminatory way for me as a user to choose what information about myself I can share with each publisher in the network. I sense that Google wants to move in that direction, but their open source implementation thus far is very limited.

    I’d be curious to know how you feel about the various lifesourcing sites and how close they are to achieving this type of network? It seems that would be the most likely trail to social nirvana.

  • http://www.KolbeMarket.com BarbaraKB

    Google will (and is) doing it and thus, who is more evil: Google + Chris Brogan or Facebook alone? We’ll let each consumer decide. Ultimately, it’s about engagement and moving beyond the data collected…. right? ;-)

  • http://www.KolbeMarket.com BarbaraKB

    Google will (and is) doing it and thus, who is more evil: Google + Chris Brogan or Facebook alone? We’ll let each consumer decide. Ultimately, it’s about engagement and moving beyond the data collected…. right? ;-)

  • http://www.timothypost.com Timothy Post

    OpenID providers offers users 2 primary functions:

    1. Universal login
    2. A profile page

    Universal login has gotten almost all the coverage. Unfortunately, it is only mildly interesting. I use 1Password on my Mac and can have random 15 digit passwords for any account. I don’t need one universal login.

    The profile page offered by all OpenID providers is also only mildly interesting. While you can aggregate info from lots of different online providers you are still stuck with a sub-domain tied to the OpenID provider.

    There is supposedly a way, using Delegation, to roll your own domain as your OpenID using a little copy/paste of embed code on your own website. However, while this is nice it misses the real potential of OpenID.

    OpenID will see widespread adoption when a social aggregator, like Friendfeed, becomes an OpenID Provider itself and enables URL verification for SUB-DOMAINS using the DNS verification method.

    Basically, Friendfeed should enable its users to use a sub-domain, in my case http://openid.timothypost.com, as the domain for their Friendfeed account. Since I could use the DNS verification method (like MyopenID offers), I could continue to use my primary domain for my blog/website. The sub-domain would be profile which I want to share with other social networks. The information on this sub-domain would be generated by Friendfeed. Friendfeed would replace Facebook and become the hub of my online social activities. the key point being that I own the domain and could, theoretically, move to another social aggregator if I so chose in the future.

    WordPress offers its wordpress.com customers this custom domain option, as does Google Apps with the Gmail engine underneath.

    OpenID is well positioned to be a key player in this open architecture social network. The primary benefit of using OpenID would be that the domain would be truly verfied so that any “velvet rope” social network could be sure that the person using the domain was, in fact, the one who owned the domain.

    I should note that Verisign is the best positioned OpenID Provider currently to capitalize on this opportunity but, unfortunately, they still insist on offering the ‘social hub” option on a sub-domain of Verisign instead of outsourcing that part to a “real” social aggregator like Friendfeed.

    Facebook could also execute an end-run to this potential threat by offering its users the opportunity to use custom domains, and in particular sub-domains, with their Facebook accounts.

    Whatever form this new open social network infrastructure takes, the key is that we own the domain where it happens.

  • http://www.timothypost.com Timothy Post

    OpenID providers offers users 2 primary functions:

    1. Universal login
    2. A profile page

    Universal login has gotten almost all the coverage. Unfortunately, it is only mildly interesting. I use 1Password on my Mac and can have random 15 digit passwords for any account. I don’t need one universal login.

    The profile page offered by all OpenID providers is also only mildly interesting. While you can aggregate info from lots of different online providers you are still stuck with a sub-domain tied to the OpenID provider.

    There is supposedly a way, using Delegation, to roll your own domain as your OpenID using a little copy/paste of embed code on your own website. However, while this is nice it misses the real potential of OpenID.

    OpenID will see widespread adoption when a social aggregator, like Friendfeed, becomes an OpenID Provider itself and enables URL verification for SUB-DOMAINS using the DNS verification method.

    Basically, Friendfeed should enable its users to use a sub-domain, in my case http://openid.timothypost.com, as the domain for their Friendfeed account. Since I could use the DNS verification method (like MyopenID offers), I could continue to use my primary domain for my blog/website. The sub-domain would be profile which I want to share with other social networks. The information on this sub-domain would be generated by Friendfeed. Friendfeed would replace Facebook and become the hub of my online social activities. the key point being that I own the domain and could, theoretically, move to another social aggregator if I so chose in the future.

    WordPress offers its wordpress.com customers this custom domain option, as does Google Apps with the Gmail engine underneath.

    OpenID is well positioned to be a key player in this open architecture social network. The primary benefit of using OpenID would be that the domain would be truly verfied so that any “velvet rope” social network could be sure that the person using the domain was, in fact, the one who owned the domain.

    I should note that Verisign is the best positioned OpenID Provider currently to capitalize on this opportunity but, unfortunately, they still insist on offering the ‘social hub” option on a sub-domain of Verisign instead of outsourcing that part to a “real” social aggregator like Friendfeed.

    Facebook could also execute an end-run to this potential threat by offering its users the opportunity to use custom domains, and in particular sub-domains, with their Facebook accounts.

    Whatever form this new open social network infrastructure takes, the key is that we own the domain where it happens.

  • http://chrisbrogan.com chrisbrogan

    @BarbaraKB – no, in this case, it’s all about data collection. Google and Facebook don’t want to love you. They want to sell you. They’re both ad farms.

    WE create community. They mine it for details. Parasitic symbiotes.

  • http://chrisbrogan.com chrisbrogan

    @BarbaraKB – no, in this case, it’s all about data collection. Google and Facebook don’t want to love you. They want to sell you. They’re both ad farms.

    WE create community. They mine it for details. Parasitic symbiotes.

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  • http://www.permissiontv.com Matthew Mamet

    These first incarnations of social media applications built on top of the large social media platforms are interesting. Everyone who watched the Obama Inauguration through the live streaming CNN player integrated with Facebook was pretty pleased with it.

    Another first evolution has been the rise of the “Twebinar” – people using a live streaming webinar service along with Twitter to increase social interaction between participants while broadening their “reach” by twittering against a specific hashtag. Very easy to do and a very big impact.

    At PermissionTV we’ve built a simple Live Streaming Video Player combined with the Twitter API (aka Tweedio Player). It was really easy to do and We use it during our weekly live stream where we talk about our market – Online Video. Check it out at http://www.permissiontv.com/live

    Online Applications will continue to add in more components of social media (Twitter, Facebook Connect, etc) as time marches on. I look forward to see the NEXT evolution.

  • http://www.permissiontv.com Matthew Mamet

    These first incarnations of social media applications built on top of the large social media platforms are interesting. Everyone who watched the Obama Inauguration through the live streaming CNN player integrated with Facebook was pretty pleased with it.

    Another first evolution has been the rise of the “Twebinar” – people using a live streaming webinar service along with Twitter to increase social interaction between participants while broadening their “reach” by twittering against a specific hashtag. Very easy to do and a very big impact.

    At PermissionTV we’ve built a simple Live Streaming Video Player combined with the Twitter API (aka Tweedio Player). It was really easy to do and We use it during our weekly live stream where we talk about our market – Online Video. Check it out at http://www.permissiontv.com/live

    Online Applications will continue to add in more components of social media (Twitter, Facebook Connect, etc) as time marches on. I look forward to see the NEXT evolution.

  • http://scalableintimacy.com Mike Troiano

    Prediction: Google will enable publishers who use Friend Connect to power social networking features on their sites to execute follow-up communication programs with their users.

    The convenience factor for users is so huge, we’re going to have to pick our poison. And between them and facebook, it seems to me we’re a lot more likely to get what we need from The Goog.

    YMMV.

  • http://scalableintimacy.com Mike Troiano

    Prediction: Google will enable publishers who use Friend Connect to power social networking features on their sites to execute follow-up communication programs with their users.

    The convenience factor for users is so huge, we’re going to have to pick our poison. And between them and facebook, it seems to me we’re a lot more likely to get what we need from The Goog.

    YMMV.

  • Doug Larner

    Been waiting for this for a while too – but with a twist. Our data, as users, is really our core value to online commercial enterprises (it may ultimately lead to sales and relationships). So the time will come when we will be individually paid for letting organisations have and use that data.

    We all receive a micro payment for use of our data and we sign up to keep it true and up to date. We wont get rich individually but our ‘passport’ could be a nice little earner and the companies currently desparate to get the information pay appropriately. Better we get a cut than the Governments, organisations, sites, etc. take the lot.

    But who has deep enough pockets to fund and take the commercial data sales/sharing millions of such a thing?

    Answers here please!

  • Doug Larner

    Been waiting for this for a while too – but with a twist. Our data, as users, is really our core value to online commercial enterprises (it may ultimately lead to sales and relationships). So the time will come when we will be individually paid for letting organisations have and use that data.

    We all receive a micro payment for use of our data and we sign up to keep it true and up to date. We wont get rich individually but our ‘passport’ could be a nice little earner and the companies currently desparate to get the information pay appropriately. Better we get a cut than the Governments, organisations, sites, etc. take the lot.

    But who has deep enough pockets to fund and take the commercial data sales/sharing millions of such a thing?

    Answers here please!

  • http://www.timothypost.com Timothy Post

    @Doug Larner – very interesting point.

    Is it also possible that instead of receiving an actual micro-payment we will instead have the chance to be offered promotional offers and other non-monetary items of value?

    I think what you are referring to is what Doc Searl’s call VRM (Vendor Relationship Management). See link:
    http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/projectvrm/Main_Page

    I have been unsuccessfully trying to argue for a while now that Facebook’s true value derives from its role as gatekeeper to all of our vendor relationships. Facebook can charge vendors for the opportunity to connect directly with users (part, present, and future customers). Call it Access Marketing.

    The key is that we, as Facebook users, can choose to opt-in or opt-out of these vendor relationships. Additionally, the other key variable, as the OpenID article discusses, is that we control our data and the domain where that data “lives.”

    If Facebook can find the right spot in the VRM ecosystem it will truly be worth the multi-billion dollar valuation.

  • http://www.timothypost.com Timothy Post

    @Doug Larner – very interesting point.

    Is it also possible that instead of receiving an actual micro-payment we will instead have the chance to be offered promotional offers and other non-monetary items of value?

    I think what you are referring to is what Doc Searl’s call VRM (Vendor Relationship Management). See link:
    http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/projectvrm/Main_Page

    I have been unsuccessfully trying to argue for a while now that Facebook’s true value derives from its role as gatekeeper to all of our vendor relationships. Facebook can charge vendors for the opportunity to connect directly with users (part, present, and future customers). Call it Access Marketing.

    The key is that we, as Facebook users, can choose to opt-in or opt-out of these vendor relationships. Additionally, the other key variable, as the OpenID article discusses, is that we control our data and the domain where that data “lives.”

    If Facebook can find the right spot in the VRM ecosystem it will truly be worth the multi-billion dollar valuation.

  • http://www.KolbeMarket.com BarbaraKB

    Well, glad we got that over with: so it *is* about data collection. For all of us!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com chrisbrogan

      @Barbara – not necessarily all of us, but for the people who provide the tools? Definitely. Most definitely. For me as a marketer, it depends on the setting. Sometimes I need all the data. Other times, I don’t and just want the conversation. But for Google and Facebook? It’s ALL about the data. Feeling otherwise is rosy glasses all around.

  • http://www.KolbeMarket.com BarbaraKB

    Well, glad we got that over with: so it *is* about data collection. For all of us!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com chrisbrogan

      @Barbara – not necessarily all of us, but for the people who provide the tools? Definitely. Most definitely. For me as a marketer, it depends on the setting. Sometimes I need all the data. Other times, I don’t and just want the conversation. But for Google and Facebook? It’s ALL about the data. Feeling otherwise is rosy glasses all around.

  • http://blog.ourchurch.com Christian Web Trends

    “Instead of Facebook Connect… I think someone will soon create a “universal profile.”

    Is that not what Google is doing with Open Social?
    http://code.google.com/apis/opensocial/

    - Paul

  • http://blog.ourchurch.com Christian Web Trends

    “Instead of Facebook Connect… I think someone will soon create a “universal profile.”

    Is that not what Google is doing with Open Social?
    http://code.google.com/apis/opensocial/

    - Paul

  • THEODORE W PLANDOWSKI

    Maybe we should put an ANSI port like USB and we all plug in our profile drives and select on a Gate’s menu/window lol The world of bloggery…..

  • http://noneyet THEODORE W PLANDOWSKI

    Maybe we should put an ANSI port like USB and we all plug in our profile drives and select on a Gate’s menu/window lol The world of bloggery…..

  • Hampus Landelius

    Here is a good list that summarize some Social Aggregators

    http://freelancefolder.com/35-social-media-tools-make-life-easier/

    BR / Hampus

  • Hampus Landelius

    Here is a good list that summarize some Social Aggregators

    http://freelancefolder.com/35-social-media-tools-make-life-easier/

    BR / Hampus

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  • Robert

    Totally agree … convo on a TechCrunch post yesterday in similar vein: http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/05/23/free-to-us

    Some services will be for pay, certainly, but one that will or should not is a profile hosting service! An online identity via Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple(if they can pull head out of mobileme) only makes sense.

    Isn't this really the evolution of email addresses? Any email provider ought to provide hooks, those that don't (some cable oriented ISPs I can imagine would not muster the strength) will eventually get left for free email sites that do.

    A profile would be an aggregation point for one's digital activity stream … links to any service which provides linkable identities.

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  • nitendra

    Wonderful idea to have one

  • http://ansblog.com NITS

    Wonderful idea to have one

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