Small steps for identity

I recently updated my About page with a list of links to each of my online identities at places like Flickr, del.icio.us, LinkedIn, and others. It’s a first-crack effort at being transparent about my online identity at various locations.

As I wrote this past January, identity online is an emerging issue, though it hasn’t quite made the breakthrough I predicted it would this year. A variety of incrimental steps are being taken, with the most recent example I’ve noticed being edgeio’s user profile, which asks you to enter your usernames at other popular online destinations like Flickr. Since edgeio is a classifieds marketplace, the obvious motive behind their clever move in this direction is to create more accountability for their sellers in an open (read: non-eBay) way.

Other work in the space is being done by OpenID as well as RapLeaf. For now though, it’s up to the decentralized masses to come up with their own self-policing and self-publicizing methods of sharing and verifying identity.

edgeio: Classifieds, and a hope for distributed community

You may think the previous post on my blog, in which I listed a propane fireplace for sale, was a little bit strange. In fact, there’s another reason for it besides my desire to sell the fireplace (after all, I’ve already paid to post it for sale elsewhere). The ad was also my first test of the new distributed classifieds service edgeio.

Edgeio

Edgeio is still in beta, so you’ll need a password to check out the site. But without visiting it, you’ll have to trust me when I say that it’s not only a great new web-based classifieds service, it’s also a promosing hope for the future of distributed content and community on the web.

So that’s what makes edgeio so exciting, but what makes it tick? Simple. Instead of the ebay model, where you create a separate account, a separate identity, and sell your listings on their site, in their market, edgeio makes all of the web a market. Rather than posting an ad for sale on edgeio, you write a blog post listing your item, service, or job opening. Tag it with “listing” and other keywords, and edgeio reads your RSS feed and automatically lists your item. In my first test today, my listing- including the image I posted on it- appeared on edgeio within a few minutes.

After it appears, you can enhance your listing with graphics, keywords, by claiming it. The point is that while edgeio is a convenient place to search for and view items in context, the actual item itself is generated from within your own central place on the web.

Behind the simplicity of this difference lurks another tremendous benefit: identity.

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coComment: Free invites available

In case you missed it, the good folks at coComment stopped by my comments section the other day in response to my review of the service. They were kind enough to post three invite codes to beta test their new service. I’m re-publishing them here for all to see.

If you use one of these codes, please leave a comment here so I can update this post when all 3 codes are taken.

Thanks!

coComment invites codes- visit http://cocomment.com to use them:

1848-9898-3693
6373-5033-3319
9201-1893-4171

I know I don’t have to say this, but please consider your fellow human and only take one of these codes if you plan to try the service. Thanks!

coComment wants to help you save and track your comments

coComment is a new service that’s been generating some healthy buzz in blogosphere over the past week. It started with Robert Scoble’s post last Saturday night and continued throughout the week as various bloggers weighed in.

If you haven’t heard, coComment sounds like quite a nifty new service…and it is. It’s a site that will help you keep track of all the comments you leave out there in blog-land.

Thanks to coComment’s Merlin, I was invited to beta test the service.

The idea behind coComment is simple, as as I’ve been commenting more lately, it’s something I was wishing before even before I knew it existed. Here’s the gist: coComment will save and contexualize all of the comments you leave out there on the web in one handy place for you.

The big question many people are wondering is, how do they do it? Well, it’s not fancy, but it does work…for the most part. How it works is you visit a site like normal. You type your comment as normal. Then, when you’ve finished typing- but before you click the ‘publish’ button- you click the coComment bookmark saved in your browser’s bookmarks toolbar. That step tells coComment to scrape the page, read your comment, and store it in your account at coComment’s site.

That’s a bit of a clunky process- I wish it didn’t allow for so much human error- but it’s simple, and it doesn’t require something far uglier like making you visit a separate site to leave comments.

Once your comment is saved, coComment does the rest. My favorite feature so far is the way the coComment site saves not only my comment, but the ones before and after it also, creating a contexual thread for me to view my comment within. If you leave multiple comments at multiple sites, you can already see the value of a site that collects all those streams into once place for you. I’m also a fan of the RSS feed they give me. Any service launching this year that doesn’t give me an RSS feed of my data, if it’s even remotely relevant, is not something I’d consider using. There’s just too much stuff out there to try things that I don’t think could become eventually uselful, and any service not offering RSS is ever going to fall into that category.

From what little testing I’ve done so far, I think the biggest drawback is that currently, coComment only works with a finite set of websites, mostly many of the top blogging platforms (WordPress, MovableType, etc.), along with some other notable non-blog sites such as Flickr and MySpace. This is a clear limitation on the service, as there are countless other places I’d potentially comment. As with its human-generated comment tracking method, here the service needs to expand not by adding more places, but by devising some method to cover any instance where commenting might happen. Not sure if that’s possible or not, but as the web itself gets bloggier, they might want to look into it.

In this early stage, I’m giving coComment a B. It’s getting crowded out there in social software land- I wonder if a service that does something as granular as tracking comments has enough relevancy to stick.