Michael Arrington's post on Tech Crunch last year used comScore data to estimate what the average social network is today. The numbers put Facebook at the top, followed by Myspace, Bebo, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The one thing I found missing, was the connection. So I have a Facebook, Myspace, Bebo, Twitter, and LinkedIn profile...now what? What nobody seems to be able to find is a middle ground service that can connect everything together. A post on Layered Byte lists a couple of solutions that have popped up, such as Hi I'm, Card.ly, ClaimID, etc. But with things the way they are, there still seems to be a lack of central authority that you can place your identity in, and let it be the center of your online social network.
I think the worst part of the situation is that the solutions that are out there are, well, crap. Sure, Gravatar would be a great idea, if every other service I used was compatible, and I could change my Google Profile picture, Facebook profile picture, Twitter profile picture, all with one upload. But that support just isn't there. With that stated, the problem become obvious: services are trying to make new standards, rather than adapt the old ones. Take OpenID for instance. All of a sudden everybody is a provider, but nobody allows you to use an existing OpenID. Yep, I have a Google, Facebook, MyOpenId, ClaimID, heck even this blog is an OpenID, but only ClaimID accepts any other site's id, so what is any of it useful for?
So whoever might be reading this blog post, and is all of a sudden inspired to fix these problems, please listen. We need a service that accepts other services, rather than hoping Facebook is going to change for every website that comes around the corner. We need a place like my Gmail inbox, where I can access Facebook, Twitter, Buzz, and more from just one place (not to mention Reader, Calendar, and Docs are just a link away). We need a place that can verify our identity, such as Google Knol's Identity Verification program. We need a place that can let others verify our identity, as I am very sad to see that GPG is not being used to its full potential. And finally, but most importantly and most difficult of all, we need something simple yet functional.
I know I am just another one of those hopers or dreamers looking for the perfect service, but the fact is nobody is even trying to reach any of these goals, albeit Google has come pretty close. I look around and all I see are services like Facebook and Google, at odds since neither accepts the other's OpenID, and then all the spaces being filled in with useless blowouts over meaningless issues, such as the recent comScore debacle or Google Buzz. My proposal: if the big sites won't get out of the way for progress, working around them is the only way to social identity nirvana.
If anybody has found that perfect social networking site that accepts OpenID, verifies your identity, uploads your GPG certificate, and integrates all the popular social networking services, please contact me ASAP. (On a side note, Knol for some reason is not verifying my profile, which irks me even further.)