Sunday, July 08, 2007

Why Personal Portals Are The Future Of Controling Your Online Identity ( or The Guide To My Blog)

Everyone seems to be focusing on building out their profiles on Myspace, Photobucket, Flickr, and now Facebook and Twitter. With all these new social networks it's hard to keep up. Where do you tell your friends and colleagues to go to now!?! Google?

The reality is, for online "Actives" like me (those who participate frequently in online networks, forums, blogs, communities, etc.), it's hard to keep up these days. So many new sites, new communities, different profiles...how does anyone keep up and where is this all going anyway?

My best guess is that all of us "Actives" will realize that by creating our own personal "online hubs" (gateways that lead to and link to everything else that we are doing), we will regain control of our online information. By aggregating all of our profiles and online information, we are better able to manage, share, and distribute all of this disparate personal information. Many bloggers have figured this out already, but most people have dozens of "accounts", "pages", "sites", "articles", etc. all floating around cyberspace. Why not get control by aggregating all of your cyberdata?

That's the approach I'm taking now. My personal blog, Stoaked! (here at unitystoakes.com), is my personal hub. You can pretty much come here and get to everything else. This is my personal portal. My thoughts, my links, my favorite content, my stalker feeds, my profiles, my pictures, my reviews, my recipes, my lists...the portal to my online life.

A few years ago, the concern was all about privacy. Now, it seems we are entering the Age of Transparency.

For example...

* I make it easy for you to read all the recommended articles and blog postings I find interesting by checking out my "Shared Items Widget", now at the top right of my blog. I read about a hundred blogs right now using Google Reader. When I find an interesting posting, I flag it and share it via this widget. The reality is, I save these postings more for myself than for you so I can go back to them later, but I also do it to promote other great bloggers, thinkers, designers, trend setters, and ideas. Why not share these ideas this with you!

* Keep tabs on my every move by checking out my Twitter Widget (also on top right of this blog). Find out what I am doing "now" or get random thoughts I post when I am out and about. People seem to either love or hate the concept of Twitter. I think it is an incredibly useful and collaborative new tool to connect and share information.

* Check out my links and discover my other Web sites, business, and family.

* Click on the Google ads to help make me money:-). Every time I buy something on Amazon, I use my own Amazon Widget and save an extra 4%.

* Subscribe to my blog to get updates via your RSS reader.

* Connect to my business contacts via my Linked In Profile. Want to meet someone in my network? Let me know...

* I don't use My Tumblr very much but every once in a while, I post random quotes, pictures, and fun links that I don't want to put on my main blog. It is sort of a random offshoot of my main Blog.

* You can even check out My Netflix ratings, My Yelp reviews, or Delicious links.

* Don't know what to get me on my Birthday?:-) That's what my Wish List is for.

Obviously since this is my personal online "hub" most of the links and information won't be that interesting to that many people. But that's the point. It is only interesting for people who actually care (like my friends and family, colleagues, and crazy stalkers), and it enables me to tell a more complete story of my life.

The combination of Participation and Transparency is very powerful. Now that anyone can Google you and find everything in 10 seconds anyway, my philosophy is it's best to "own" your information. Aggregate it. Control it. Share it. Shape it. By flooding the world with information, you regain your privacy and have some semblance of control again.

Don't leave your online identity in the hands of Google. Guide people to your information yourself! If you haven't already, it's time to build your online "hub" and get control again.

3 comments:

gammydodger said...

I had been thinking along the same lines and conceived a 'Personal Portal' that would provide a single source of information about me online. One that was accessible by others when they needed my latest phone number or email address, or where I could share photos with them - but also where I was able to control who could see what.

I set up a Group on MSN where I began to post things, but gradually I realised that it would need to include more information that I didn't actually have access to directly.

My thinking gradually evolved into a portal that drew in my personal details held by third parties such as my bank insurer and medical care provider.

The Personal Portal's specification is written up here .

More recently people are able to create online repositories about themselves using MySpace and Facebook. However, the information that I post there is now being co-opted to market to me and I am losing control of my information...

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter of losing control of your personal information.

ustoakes said...

I think the reality is that no one has control of their information any longer...so the best way to REGAIN control is to start putting it out there yourself.

Structure and manage what you publish and distribute. Work to control what comes up in Google. Build your own portal and guide people to that.

The two options are to try and never let any information out or to have so much information out there as a mechanism to flood the market with the information you want out there.

There is a major behavioral shift going on with personal privacy. The younger people are much more willing to be open. This age of transparency will have a profound impact on our culture.

gammydodger said...

I came to exactly the same conclusion myself

1) first I needed to work out where I have already published my information: Who_is_gammydodger

2) then I went further and began to publish an even more detailed set that will not be available anywhere else: Too_much_Info

I am now working on a scalable and useful way of doing this. Do you think that Google's OpenSocialAPI is going to be of any use?