I don’t exactly know how it all spun out of control, but I’m fairly certain I have a Blogger and Friendster and MySpace and GameSpot and YouTube and Flickr and Technorati and del.icio.us account. In all likelihood, my username clogs the registry of another handful of community apps gathering dust. Pat Robertson, forgive me if you’re reading this, but in an effort to establish human connections online I’ve been intimate with dozens of web 2.0 communities, and the names of most I cannot even remember.
Please don’t judge me, because I cherished every one of those applications, if only for a few minutes in the parking lot behind the wi-fi cafe.
The trouble is, even with widgets and extensions and aggregators I just couldn’t bloody keep track of them any more. Moreover, in the pursuit of intimacy with many communities I found myself sacrificing a quality experience with any one community. Every web 2.0 flavor of the week diluted my attention from flavors past, and with a startling cumulative effect. Yep, establishing online connections required an unforeseen amount of maintenance, and my real life grass needed mowing.
Content notwithstanding, MySpace (and less profoundly, Friendster) made an early effort to centralize identity and facilitate human connection. This is my blog. These are my friends. This is which dark blue background tile of L’il Bow Wow I think would look good with this dark blue type. But still, one’s identity exists in MySpace’s domain, logistically isolated from the other communities and connections that define and individualize (Flickr, et al). Isolation in web 2.0? Poppycock.
It seems web 2.0 and beyond is fertile ground for a unique, centralized online identity “site” that integrates, manages and makes sense of the online communities that define every web user. Operating at a unique (if anonymous) “human” identifier (http://us.universalusername.xy?), this site could address some significant mechanical objectives:
1) For the owner/operator, a centralized identity could operate as a dashboard for all of the communities of which they are a part. So, instead of hopping from site to site, uploading photos, posting comments, rating user submissions, and slowly abandoning half of the communities at which they’ve registered, individuals could interact with all of them in a user-customized interface. Given faithful integration of external community applications, this “life overview” jump-evolves the personalized home pages of old.
2) For wandering web users, a centralized identity could provide a more complete and compelling picture of the individual. To wit, if identity is defined by the totality of life experiences, can one’s online identity be similarly defined? Will fellow interlopers find the most profound introduction to the individual in the broadest accumulation of their online efforts? I suspect so.
I don’t want to abandon the opportunity for human connection, but the disparate, clunky community sites that require my attention have stretched me thin. And given the increasing niche focus of community applications, I only foresee the din increasing. So, am I proposing a new web 2.0 application to confront the deluge of web 2.0 applications? Erm, well … have you got a better idea?