Archive for the 'Dispatches from a beta' Category
ClaimID was recently reviewed in the Town of Colonie (NY) Library Newsletter (download the PDF here).Â Lots of people review ClaimID, so what makes this one special?Â First off, it is from a library.Â We at ClaimID are from library school ourselves, so we lurve libraries.Â Second, the review was written by my mom, the very technology-savvy reference librarian at William K. Sanford Town Library.
ClaimID (http://www.claimid.com) is a free online identity management service. ClaimID allows claimants to aggregate and annotate online information that is about them or created by them. ClaimID â€œgives people rather than a search engine, control over their identity.â€ (http://www.claimid.com/faq)Â In addition to ClaimIDâ€™s online resume function, the siteâ€™s loose structure encourages claimants to create descriptive categories (e.g. blogs, networks, links, photo-sharing) to which they can add content. A ClaimID resume is a dynamic document. Claimants often include links to flickr on their ClaimID page.
We love it!Â In other news, Peter St. Andre has been hard at work completing versions .01 and .02 of the MicroID spec.Â This is extremely valuable to the MicroID movement.Â If you’re interested in contributing to the ongoing efforts with MicroID, please consider joining the MicroID mailing list.
In other news, happy 2007 to everyone!Â We’ve got some great stuff planned in 2007, first and foremost of which is this recently-completed hardware migration that has ClaimID running all sorts of snappy.Â Â Best to everyone – thank you for joining us in claiming your identity.
We are flipping the switch tonight on a little upgrade.
We are planning a two hour window for this migration/maintenance.
Watch for ninjas. We hope they will work quickly and without any fat ninja fingers.
Update: Fat fingers (and mysql bin logs) thwarted our attack this evening – we’ll be back tomorrow to try again…
Update: All done.Â If you can see this – we’re on the new server and all is well.
Over the past few days, a good number of posts about OpenID crossed my feed reader.Â These posts had made it to the front page of Digg, Del.icio.us – meaning lots of good eyeballs for OpenID.Â Here are some examples:
- Simon Willison – How to turn your blog into an OpenID.Â A great post about how to make your blog an openID.Â Of course you can use your claimID URL as your OpenID in this fantastic howto.
- Six Apart Weblog – OpenID’s Growing Momentum.Â The folks at Six Apart have been using OpenID for a long time – these forward thinkers speculate on some of OpenID’s momentum going forward.
- O’Reilly Radar – OpenID on the Upswing.Â O’Reilly’s Brady Forrest checks in on OpenID and shows Google Trends data.
These are great links, with lots of resources.Â Here are some other cool links we’ve come across:
- ClaimID Weblog – OpenID Resources.Â Ahem Just a good collection of links to everything OpenID.
- Adam Fortuna – MicroID, the coolest technology from 2006 you’ve never heard of.Â Not OpenID, but MicroID is very dear to our heart – Adam contributes code and explains MicroID.
OpenID is an organic phenomenon, but all of this great coverage wouldn’t happen without the hard work of professional instigators like Scott Kveton and Chris Messina.Â And the phenomenon wouldn’t be anywhere near it is today without the hard work of coders like Brian Ellin who have contributed so much open source OpenID code.
2007 looks like an exciting year for OpenID and ClaimID.Â This identity stuff is really starting to catch on.Â We knew that it would take a little time, that we’d have to be slow and a little methodological, but the reality is people need identity solutions.Â In the next year, we’re going to work hard to deliver those solutions to you, all the while keeping ClaimID a simple, trustworthy and useful place.
There was an excellent article about the online identity space in today’s Christian Science Monitor.Â Cristian Lupsa parses some of the problems with online identity, and gives ClaimID great coverage.Â We’re especially excited that the story featured Lyceum architect John Joseph Bachir:
John Joseph Bachir is a programmer. He’s also an amateur filmmaker. He has a blog and is involved in a series of software projects, some of which he runs. He sometimes records an audio show about odd Wikipedia entries. He even submitted a photo of penguins to Cute Overload, a website overrun with cuddly animals that make you think “Soooo cute!”
You can discover all this by checking JJB’s (he often uses initials online) profile on ClaimID, one of many start-ups allowing a user to manage his online identity. Through ClaimID, Mr. Bachir consolidated information about himself available online, rather than letting a search engines decide what comes up when someone types in his name.
“My ClaimID changes with me,” Bachir says. “Google doesn’t change with me.”
The Internet has matured to a point where so much of one’s life is online that some people need methods of self-promotion and self-protection, concepts usually associated with the imagemakers of politicians and Hollywood stars. As more employers, workers, and singles use the Internet to check someone out, the idea of managing one’s online presence doesn’t sound so strange.
You can check this story out at the Christian Science Monitor website.
Just a quick note to let everyone know it isn’t too late to register for the upcoming Internet Identity Workshop.Â The IIW is an open-format unconference where many of the great identity minds come together, and we’ve had a great time at IIW’s prior.Â Unfortunately, I won’t be attending this IIW, as I have another conference to organize, but Terrell will be ably representing ClaimID in Mountain View.
If you’re working in the identity space, you’ve really got to attend these conferences.Â We’re just blown away by the quality of conversation, the multitude of viewpoints raised, and the exceptional moderation skills of the Identity Woman Kaliya Hamlin.Â Here’s a link to sign up if you’re interested.Â The IIW will run from Dec. 4 to Dec. 6, and it is held in Mountain View’s Computer History Museum.
A question that arrives in our inbox from time to time is “How do I get page X to be the top result for my name?”Â This is a valid, useful question, so I thought I might share part of the answer for reference.Â To do so, however, we must first talk about how search engines work.
Since the advent of Google’s PageRank, search engines have relied upon links to determine relevance when ranking results.Â Jon Kleinberg, a brilliant mathematician at Cornell described the web as being comprised of hubs and authorities. Â A hub is a site with many outlinks (such as a blog) whereas an authority is a site with many links pointing to it (such as CNN.com or NYTimes.com).
Now, search engine algorithms are extremely complex and we can get into the nuance a little later, but the basic premise to be successful in the task of increasing your name’s rank is that you need to become an authority.Â Luckily for you, all this means is that you need a lot of links pointing to the desired pages you wish to promote.Â The key is having your name in the hyperlink pointing to that page.
We can think of relevance in ranking search engine results as a multipart equation (as it is).Â When someone searches for you, the search engine first looks in its in index to see what pages match.Â Once it has that big corpus of matching pages, it must then rank them.Â The search engine uses a combination of the text and qualities of the indexed page, and it looks at how many links are pointing to it that either contain the search terms, or have the search terms in proximity to the hyperlink pointing to the name.Â It then looks at the quality of the hyperlinks (in Google, the PageRank) and orders your results.
Let’s imagine you want to move a page about you from the second page of search engine results to the top of the first page.Â As long as you don’t share a name with someone uber-famous or a well-known blogger, the best way to do this is to set up a number of links to that page with your name in the hyperlink text.Â How do you do this?Â Well, you can set up blogs, wikis, homepages, a claimID or one of the many other profile listing services – or you can use the secret method of leaving comments on highly ranked blogs.Â This is my favorite trick – search engines love blogs because they are noisy, frequently updated hubs.Â And blogs such as members of the Web 2.0 working group have very high ranking – so commenting with your name and your desired URL can prove quite effective.Â Of course you mustn’t be a troll or be spammy…but if you’re a regular commenter, a simple tweak of your strategy could prove immensely valuable in terms of raising the pages you want to the top of search engines.
Of course, it isn’t all about links.Â Having a page with your name in the URL, or having a lot of well-structured text on the page with your name inside bolds, h1′s etc will help.Â However, in terms of bang for your buck, links are the key.Â It is surprising how few links it takes to have a strong effect.Â Of course, the quality of the links (the pagerank of the originating domain) will mediate the effect, but any link is extremely valuable.
For more and more of us, being “findable” is becoming a 21st century necessity.Â By understanding the technologies that enable our findability, you will have more power in protecting your identity and putting your best identity forward.
On the heels of our announcement regarding multiple email address management and autoverification for MicroID-enabled sites, we have another announcement…
We have now retroactively verified all our users’ links that belong to sites in our list of Known MicroID Publishers.
After extensive local testing for at least 15-20 minutes, our extremely powerful regular expression engine ran through the entire claimID database and flagged all the links that matched the Publishers list.
So what this means for you, the user: without any extra work on your part, if your email addresses are the same here and at the other end of your claimed link, it’s now automatically verified for you. And it should be marked as such on your claimID page.
If you expected a certain link to verify and it did not – there are two things you need to check in order to convince us our well-tested code is doing something wrong:
- The exact email address used to compute the MicroID on the other end – must be in your account here at claimID.
- The URL in question must be exactly the same one they’re using on the other end. Trailing slashes matter. The http(s) matters. Exactly the same.
We’re working on a guide to help with working through issues of MicroID verification. Watch this space.
I’d like to take this opportunity to announce two new features here at claimID. We’ve been working hard to make sure this stuff is pretty easy to understand and to follow.
Tell us how we’re doing!
1) Multiple Email Addresses
At long last, you can now manage multiple email addresses from within your account. More importantly for some of you, you can get rid of that ‘spam’ address you put in before you trusted us and get your MicroIDs verifying with real email addresses.
Any addresses you list in your account will remain completely hidden from outside viewers. At a later date, we hope to allow an option to display the addresses you want to display, but not yet. For now, they’re only visible to you from within the management interface in your account.
2) Auto MicroID Verification
When you add a new link (or edit an existing URL) and the site you add is a “Known MicroID Publisher”, your link will be automatically put into the queue for verification by our MicroID ninjas. This will remove the barrier of entry for a lot of you with regards to verification of the claims you’re making here at claimID. As the list of publishers grows, this will be a very nice feature indeed.
3) Three? Who said three?
One of the slick interactions between these two features is that now, with multiple email addresses in your account, the MicroID verifier can try and match against *all* your verified email addresses. If *any* of them match, you’re verified!
As we add new Known MicroID Publishers to the following list, we hope to retroactively verify your links as well – but that hasn’t happened quite yet.
Current List of Known MicroID Publishers
The Five Pillars of Social Media Marketing
Any and all forms of Social Media Marketing tactics fall under at least one of these five forms of action. Often the same channel will incorporate two or more of these:
- Declaration of Identity
- Identity through Association
- User-initiated Conversation
- Provider-initiated Conversation
- In-Person Interaction
ClaimID is listed squarely under #1.
I’d like to take this moment to argue that because claimID is a URL-based service, it has a foothold into #2-#5 as well. ClaimID helps people find people and helps disambiguate individuals in a medium that flattens so much rich real-world information.
Conversations are held between at least two entities. ClaimID allows you to better define who you are at one end of those conversations. And conversations are a critical part of all 5 of the pillars listed above.
As a computer mediated environment, the web has been a great liberator of information but also a great equalizer, for better and worse. We have incredible access to those who we may never have had access to talk with before – but we also have the challenge of identification and verification, since everyone can be reduced to an email address or pseudonym.
Navigating this space is hard – and new. We’ll look back on these days and chuckle at how silly we seem with our web browsers and ‘desktop’ computers. What will continue, however, is URL-based identification schemes and conversations between people. And we’ve got both.
We’re pleased to be part of a pillar.