Things have been very exciting at ClaimID recently. Our recent podcast on Inside the Net has attracted a lot of new users (who have submitted extremely helpful feature requests and bug reports) and has sparked a lot of discussion. To watch a Technorati watchlist and see people discussing, sharing, criticizing and recommending a product you developed is absolutely exhilarating. Sure, we’re just a tiny speck in the big marketplace of ideas, but we get a kick out of it. Thanks to everyone helping develop ClaimID with their public commentary (that’s right, I said develop).
When we started ClaimID, we intended to create a model. Sure, before ClaimID you could “claim” your links on your homepage or blog – and certainly many people have done that in the past. Just as blog services opened up a new world of conversation to people who weren’t technically inclined, we wanted to give everyone the opportunity to simply and easily claim their online identity. I can’t tell you how many blog posts I’ve read where people say “Why didn’t I think of that.” The answer is you did – we’ve all been thinking about our online identity and how to approach it; ClaimID has just given you a five-minute-a-month model for dealing with it.
A number of people have suggested that since ClaimID doesn’t control your identity, it doesn’t work. They feel that the only way a service like this could work is if it is tied to your bank accounts or social security. These are valid concerns – but they completely miss the point of ClaimID. Your links are another artifact of your online identity – just like your pictures, your bookmarks, your social network profiles. All of these things make up our identity, and none of them are tied to your social security. David Weinberger, in Small Pieces Loosely Joined, described the internet as such:
Being on the Web doesn’t make an individual more authentic. We know that people use the Web to fool themselves and others. Any page or chat room persona may be as dishonest as a senior manager’s expense report. If the Web is bringing us closer to human authenticity, it is doing so at the level of our species, not individuals.
Here at ClaimID, we realize we can’t change human nature. And to build a company on the assumption that we could change human nature would be a fool’s errand. ClaimID isn’t perfect, but nothing is. We acknowledge that – but we work every day to make ClaimID be more perfect, make more sense, and be more useful for you.
In creating a ClaimID account, you’ve done something very powerful. En masse, thousands of you are changing the way we think about identity on the net. Our identity is no longer just what a search engine says about us – but what we say about what a search engine says about us. It’s a fine distinction, but it’s the difference between someone misquoting your biography and you correcting it. We’re going to be on the web for the rest of our lives – and maybe we’re not all ready to start dealing with this issue, but when we are ClaimID will be there.