43 posts categorized "Internet"

CircleID - A News Site About Internet Infrastructure, Domain Names, new gTLDs, more...

CircleidWant to stay up on what is happening with the underlying infrastructure of the Internet? Or perhaps more interested in what is happening with domain names or the new "generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs)"? Curious about Internet governance issues? policy issues?

For all of those topics, and many more, a site I've come to rely on is CircleID.com.

It is a "news" site, but one that is very focused on what is happening in the underlying infrastructure that powers the Internet - and from both a technical and business/marketing point-of-view. There are technical articles and blog posts focused on topics such as IPv6, DNS security, cybersecurity, cloud computing, etc. - and there are more business-focused articles and blog posts talking about the business behind domain names or the new generic TLDs.

For marketers and communications professionals these latter topics are quite important - there is much going on right now in that space that will define what the future of domain names will look like.

I should note that Circle ID is a community-driven site and anyone can register and sign up to contribute. If you want to publish articles in this space - or have a client for whom this would be a logical audience to write - the folks behind CircleID are always open to new contributors.

To that end, I should note that I do write at CircleID from time to time and have republished some of my Disruptive Telephony posts there in the past.

It's a great resource, and one that many of you may find useful to track what is happening behind the curtains of the Internet.

P.S. Naturally CircleID is also on Twitter and Facebook, too, and has a host of RSS feeds.

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Why World IPv6 Launch Matters to Communicators / PR / Marketing

Worldipv6launch 256With World IPv6 Launch happening last week, what does something as technical and geeky as "IPv6" have to do with people in public relations (PR) and marketing? Why should communicators really care about the underlying "plumbing" of the Internet?

As a user of a browser, the answer is that right now you as a communicator probably don't have to worry all too much... odds are that your operating system and browser will all work just fine with IPv6 once you have IPv6 connectivity from your Internet Service Provider(ISP).

However, as a PUBLISHER of content (ex. websites, videos, images, audio, articles, etc.) out on to the Internet, communicators NEED to understand what is going on with the transition to IPv6 - and how you can enable your content to be available to people over IPv6. To put the reasons succinctly, they are:

  • Speed - As areas of the world run out of IPv4 addresses, networks will be established with IPv6. Those networks will have "gateways" to content that is still on IPv4, but those gateways will inherently add latency / delays to people getting your content. If you want people to get to your content as quickly as possible (and to get to your content versus other content, since speed will increasingly count in search results), you'll want to make it available over both IPv4 and IPv6.

  • Access to new/emerging markets - Best estimates are that around 2 billion people are currently on the Internet. That leaves 5 billion more who will be coming online in the months and years ahead. Odds are that a large number of those will wind up on IPv6 networks.

  • Freedom / control - As IPv4 addresses continue to run out, some ISPs may put their entire networks behind a single public IPv4 address using something called "Carrier-Grade NAT (CGN)" or "Large Scale NAT (LSN)". The challenge for communicators is that these ISPs will then be in a position to be "gatekeepers" and either deny access to your content - or to charge customers, or YOU, for access to that content. Moving to IPv6 alone won't entirely prevent this from happening, but it will remove "IPv4 exhaustion" as an excuse for ISPs to do this.

  • IPv6 is the "new normal" - The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) recently issued a statement that pretty much ensures that all new standards will require IPv6... and you can expect new tools and services to emerge that are based on IPv6. Sooner or later you're going to need to have your content available on IPv6... why not be a leader instead of a laggard?

As to the "HOW", we've put together an IPv6 guide for content providers over at the Internet Society Deploy360 Programme that walks through the steps you need to consider.

In my recent reports into the For Immediate Release podcast I have covered this in some detail. First, in FIR 653, I spoke about WHY it is important for communicators / PR / marketing to understand what is going on with IPv6:

And then in FIR 654 I spoke at more length about HOW communicators can IPv6-enable their content, essentially covering the steps in the Deploy360 guide for content providers:

The reality is that the Internet of the future will be based on IPv6 - you as a computer need to understand how you can make your content available over this newer Internet.

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Would You Buy a ".blog" Domain Name?

DotblogIf you could get a domain name ending in ".blog" for your blog site, would you buy one?

Over on Domain Incite, Kevin Murphy reports on the first applicant to publicly state that they are applying for ".blog" as part of the massive generic top-level domain (gTLD) expansion by ICANN. Murphy expects that ".blog" will probably be the most heavily contested new gTLD, meaning that multiple companies will be vying to be the registry for ".blog". He points out:

Media analysts NM Incite (great name) tracked 181 million blogs in 2011, up by about 25 million from 2010. A gTLD that could grab just 1% of that business would still be a nice little earner.

I'm not sure, myself. I remain rather skeptical that people will break out of their reliance on ".com" and go for all these other gTLDs. We've seen some of the existing gTLDs like ".biz" and ".pro" that haven't really gone anywhere. (In fact, the only .biz address I personally am aware of is the FIR podcast.)

Still, with a range of more gTLDs perhaps we finally will see people starting to use and accept other domain endings beyond .com/.org or the various country codes.

But would I register "danyork.blog"? or "disruptiveconversations.blog"?

Probably not, given that I already own the .com and .org variants on the names... although admittedly "danyork.blog" would be tempting purely because I do own .com/.org/.me/etc. and could see that one fitting in well with my "personal brand" online. Probably not for my other sites because I already have established names for them.

If I were crazy enough to start up another new blog, the ".blog" gTLD might be interesting... although to be honest I find the name "blog" to be a bit tired these days. I tend to talk more about my "sites" versus my "blogs" as the difference between what is considered a "blog" and what is considered a regular "web site" seems to get increasingly narrow. I'm not sure if I would want a new site to be labeled as a "blog".

What about you? If a ".blog" becomes available sometime in 2013, would you buy one?

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The Super Simple Secret to Stopping Online Piracy (Hint: It's not SOPA)

Memo To MPAA and other SOPA Proponents: Yesterday was a perfect example of the failure of your current business models to meet consumer demands - and the reason why there is online piracy. It also shows you the super simple secret to stopping almost all piracy.

Let me explain.

As probably most people here in the US know, yesterday we had the US football playoff championships. Even if you aren't a football fan, it was hard to escape the media attention. Particularly here in the "Patriots country" of northern New England.

While I don't really follow football, I do like to tune in around the playoffs to watch the final games. However, we don't have cable TV so I had no way to watch our local CBS station.

Here's the fundamental problem:


None. Zip. Nada.

No CBS websites had a live stream of the game, nor any other legitimate websites I could find. If I tried to go to the NFL Networks' website and pay to watch a live stream, I got this message:


Yes, indeed...

NFL Network Online is not available in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and any U.S. territories, possessions and commonwealths (including American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands).

MPAA and SOPA proponents, are you paying attention?

I was trying to give an entertainment network money.

I had my wallet open. Credit card out.

And you failed me.

Now, in my case yesterday, I drove across town and watched the game at my brother-in-law's house. But had that not been an option and had I really cared enough, I would have gone online to one of the many live streaming sites and sought out a live stream that someone else was running.

Yes, that "someone else" might be someone who is taking a web cam, pointing it at the TV and using one of the many live streaming apps to send their stream out on the web.

It would have been someone "pirating" the live broadcast of the event.

And I might have had to listen to whomever it was swearing at the screen, eating chips and guzzling beer.

But I would have been watching the game!

Because you, the entertainment industry, couldn't give it to me in the way I wanted.

Artificial Scarcity In An Era Of Abundance

Now, I completely understand why I get this NFL Network Online error message. The NFL has all its various contracts with TV and cable companies where those companies pay the NFL a zillion dollars so that the NFL can then in turn pay the ginormous salaries of the players, the owners and everyone else involved.

The only way the NFL can get the income they need to sustain their business model is to create conditions of artificial scarcity.

The NFL, as a content provider, needs to provide exclusivity to a content distribution provider so that that distribution provider can charge whatever exorbitant rates it needs to charge to cover its investment of a zillion dollars.

The distribution provider, CBS, in this case, needs to recoup its investment somehow... and so it then has contracts with cable and satellite TV companies where it provides exclusivity for them so that they can then charge their own high rates to pay for their fees.

In this case, though, the content distribution provider, CBS, failed to provide a way for a consumer like me to legitimately/legally obtain the content.

The end content distribution networks, the cable companies and the satellite TV companies, also failed to provide a way for a consumer like me to legally obtain the content. I can't simply call up my local cable TV provider on a Sunday and say, "oh, hey, can you hook up my cable this afternoon so that I can watch the game? and then disconnect it after that?" And they have no way for me to simply view their content online over the Internet unless I am actually a paying subscriber (which again, I'm not).

The content provider, the NFL, similarly failed to provide a way for a consumer like me to legally obtain the content when the content distribution provider offered no option.

So, then, as a non-subscriber to a cable or satellite network, I really have only three options:

  1. Forget about the content and go do or view something else;

  2. Go somewhere where I can view the content; or

  3. Become a pirate. Watch the content on an illegal source.

And while I wrote here about wanting to watch a sports game, you can go back through my text and substitute:

  • watching the latest movie;
  • watching a hit TV show;
  • reading the latest novel of a best-selling author;
  • listening to a live concert;
  • listening to the latest album of a band.

The fundamental problem with this business model based on artificial scarcity is that is is completely broken in an era of abundance.

I don't need to subscribe to cable TV to get most of the news and entertainment that I want to watch. I don't need to sit in a movie theatre to see the latest movie. I don't need to go to a bookstore to buy the latest novel. I don't need to go to a music store to buy the latest album.

The Internet has severely disrupted all of those "traditional" channels and we now have an abundance of different channels and different ways to obtain our content and entertainment.

Propping Up Scarcity

What we are seeing with the proposed SOPA and PIPA legislation here in the US is

the failure of the entertainment industry to adapt to the new consumer preferences.
Rather than spend their millions to figure out how to evolve and meet consumer demands, the industry would rather spend their millions to reduce/remove/eliminate/kill all those other distribution channels.

They want to prop up scarcity.

Keep their business model alive.

That's what this is all about. It's not about "breaking the Internet". It's about putting the proverbial genie back in the bottle and somehow trying to get back to an era when the entertainment industry could be in control of all the distribution channels and thereby charge whatever they felt like charging.

In the end, it will most likely fail. (Assuming we all in the Internet space continue to pay attention to what is going on.)

But the battle will be hard-fought largely because of the insane amount of lobbying money and people engaged with manipulating the political process.

The Super Simple Secret To Stopping Online Piracy

If you've read this far, you probably already know the simple "secret" to stopping almost all online piracy:

Give people a way to get...

the CONTENT they want

in the CHANNEL they want

at a reasonable COST.

That's it.

The vast majority of people, even those "young kids" people say want everything for free, will pay when a legitimate channel is made available.

Don't believe it?

Consider iTunes. Think of how many millions and millions of songs are being purchased every single day. Because Apple provided a very simple and easy way for people to legally obtain the music content people wanted in the channel they wanted (on their iPods/music players) at a cost that people felt was reasonable.

Now, if you go back a few years, the music industry wasn't too happy with Apple's move and did all they could to fight that move.

Apple understood: give people a way to get the music they want in a downloadable form at a reasonable price.

Sure, there's still probably online music piracy going on - there are some people who will never pay and want everything for free. But for the vast majority of people, why do they need to bother with a pirate music site when a legal download is only a click - and a buck - away?

Amazon's been similarly disrupting the publishing and book distribution business for years now - and now is doing it again with ebooks. Netflix and Hulu have been disrupting the movie and video distribution business.

They get it.

The MPAA and other SOPA proponents seem to be missing the point.

Entertainment industry folks - want to stop almost all online piracy?


Figure out a way to get us the content we want in the channels we want at a cost that works for us.

Figure out how someone like me can decide to watch a sports game and go online and pay to view it live. Figure out how to let someone watch the latest TV episode of a popular series either live or shortly thereafter. Figure out a way that someone can watch the newest movie in their big huge home theatre on the day of release. Oh, and figure out how to do this globally.

Do that and probably 99% of the online piracy you are currently whining about will simply... go away.

Does that trash most of your existing business models?

Absolutely. I'm not saying this is easy.

I'm only saying that the solution from a consumer point-of-view is simple.

Yes, some of the jobs and companies (and even industries) of today may be lost... but new ones will be created. Yes, the transition will be extremely hard on some people. Transitions always have been. But sticking your head in the sand and pretending the transition isn't happening will not make it go away. It will only make the transition harder on the people in those jobs and companies.

Stop spending your millions on lobbying for profoundly stupid legislation like SOPA/PIPA and instead spend it on figuring out how to reinvent the way you connect with consumers in the world of today.


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5 Critical Facts You Need To Know About Jan 12th Launch of New Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs)

Are you aware that on January 12, 2011, a fundamental change to the Internet's naming infrastructure is beginning? Are you thinking about what it means to your company or organization?

What's going on?

On that date, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) starts taking applications for new "generic top-level domains (gTLDs). Here are five critical facts:

1. The gTLD process may result in 10s or 100s of new top-level domains

A "top-level domain" (TLD) is the final part of a domain name. Originally there were only eight TLDs:

.com .edu .gov .int .mil .net .org .arpa

ICANN was awarded the contract to manage the DNS system in 1998 and engaged in two rounds of domain expansion in 2000 and 2004 that resulted in the addition of 15 more domains (see the ICANN agreements):

.aero .asia .biz .cat .coop .info .jobs .mobi .museum .name .post .pro .tel .travel .xxx

Additionally, there are 250-ish two-letter "country code top-level domains (ccTLDs)" that are handled by each nation. (And some of those ccTLDs are available commercially to anyone such as ".tv". ".me", ".co", etc.)

This new round of domain name expansion happening comes after about an 18-month process by ICANN to engage many different stakeholders in the process. It will allow anyone who can meet the criteria to establish a "registry" for a new domain name. ICANN created a video that explains the program:

2. These New Domain Names Will Most Likely Not Be Out Until 2013

On January 12, 2012, the application process will start for entities that want to apply to register a new gTLD. As explained in the Applicant Guidebook, the process is quite lengthy and involves a significant amount of both technical and business due diligence. It also costs $185,000 USD just to apply, plus the additional costs of setting up the business, technical infrastructure, etc.

The application process closes on April 12, 2012, and given the lengthy process the earliest that new gTLDs would most likely become available is early 2013.

3. You Need To Watch The gTLD Applicants To Ensure No Trademark Issues

ICANN has stated that "approximately 2 weeks after the close of the application window, ICANN will post the public portions of all applications that have been received on our website. At this time, the formal objection period will begin and will last for approximately 7 months." (See Section 4.1 of ICANN's gTLD FAQ.)

ICANN has stated that at the current time they will NOT be notifying brand name / trademark holders of applications using their brand/trademark (see Section 1.12 of the FAQ), so you need to pay attention to what is being proposed.

4. There Is An Opportunity Here for Brands

If your company/organization has both the financial and technical capability to operate a gTLD registry, there is a great potential here for carving out your area of the Internet. For instance, Ford Motor Company could register ".ford" and then start using domains such as:


The beautiful thing about operating your own gTLD is that:

You do NOT have to let anyone else use it!

It can be your own top-level domain name that no one else on the global Internet can use. gTLD operators set all the rules for how the domain is to be operated - and can choose to not let anyone else use it... or set specific criteria for people wanting to use the domain.

Again, it's very definitely NOT an easy process to get started, but it is something that some larger brands certainly may want to consider. (There is also no guarantee that consumers would accept these new gTLDs and might keep trying to tack .com onto the end!)

5. Communicators Will Need To Monitor These New gTLDs for Defensive Registrations

Once these new gTLDs start appearing in 2013 or so, communicators will of course need to monitor the success (or not) of these new gTLDs and consider whether or not they want to defensively register their brand/name/etc. in the new gTLDs.

This has been the harshest critique of the new gTLD program - namely that it creates a massive problem for brand/trademark holders and will create additional cost for them to register in each of these new domains. There have even been hearings in the US House and Senate related to these concerns and numerous editorials and online articles about this. (one example - and an ICANN response)

However, all current signs are that the launch of the application process WILL go ahead as planned on January 12, 2012. The application process does require each new gTLD to have a "Sunrise" period where entities can register new domains with specific brands/trademarks in advance of the open public registration... but that again will be something communicators will need to monitor.


ICANN has established a section of their site specifically about the generic Top-Level Domain program:


Of particular value may be the FAQ:

http://newgtlds.icann.org/applicants/customer-service/faqs (direct link in English)

For those seriously interested or wanting more of the details, the Applicant Guidebook is critical:


There has been a great amount of discussion about this ICANN program in various parts of the media. One site I have found extremely useful has been CircleID and their specific page tracking TLDs is here:


Now, the reality is that this entire gTLD program could completely fail. There may not be enough applicants... or consumers may simply not accept any of the new domains. Certainly some of the already-approved gTLDs have not found widespread acceptance.

Still, this new expansion of top-level domains seems pretty certain to move ahead - and as communicators we all need to stay on top of what is going on here and understand what we may or may not need to do.

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The MomsLikeMe.com Debacle and the Need For the Open Internet And To Control Your Content


A ton of online communities of moms are dying this week. After three years, the "MomsLikeMe.com" websites are shutting down on Friday. From the FAQ:

All of the MomsLikeMe sites will permanently shut down on Friday, October 14, 2011. At that time, everything that currently appears on the site, locally or nationally, will no longer be accessible.

Why? The standard lame corporate-speak:

The market has evolved substantially since we launched three years ago and there are many new and different ways for people to connect and engage. We feel we can better serve this community through the many new and exciting digital initiatives we will be developing and rolling out in the future.

The reality is that the site is entirely owned by Gannett (publishers of USA Today and many other newspapers and sites) and for whatever reasons they have decided that it no longer makes sense to operate this site. Perhaps they weren't seeing enough ad revenue. Perhaps it wasn't hitting whatever "metrics" they wanted to hit.

Regardless, it is shutting down - permanently - in 2 days. Finished. Over. Done. Gone.

And you can see in the comments to the blog post announcing the shutdown the collective "WTF?" of all the moms who had participated in the site. (Note, of course, that you can only see these comments until Friday, at which point they will be gone, too.)

We've seen this movie before. Remember back in April 2010 when Ning shuttered all its free communities? Or in September 2010 when the Vox blogging service shut its doors?

This is not a new story...

People invest hours and hours of time in a service operated by a company.
Company decides to shut down service... or goes bankrupt... or gets acquired.
People lose the community and/or the content they created.

At least Vox provided a way to export your content and Ning provided an upgrade path (for a fee).

Gannett says the site is dead... and THEY OWN ALL YOUR CONTENT. Again from the FAQ:

Can I take posts or other data posted on MomsLikeMe and use if for other purposes (e.g., post it on a blog, elsewhere on the web or publish it in a book)?

As outlined in the Terms of Service, the information that has been posted on MomsLikeMe is the property of Gannett.

Translation: You lose. We own it all.

Of course, just to rub salt in the wounds, the FAQ answer right below that is:

Can Gannett take posts or other data posted on MomsLikeMe and use it for other purposes (e.g., post it on a blog, elsewhere on the web or publish it in a book)?

Yes, as outlined in the Terms of Service, Gannett has the legal rights to re-use public information posted on the site for other purposes.

Translation: You lose. We own it all.

Unfortunately, the good folks who invested their time in the communities of the MomsLikeMe.com sites are learning a harsh lesson in the realities of the NOT-Open Internet. When companies control the platforms and services - and don't provide a way to export or move your content/data - you are entirely in their control. And if they decide to shut the service down...

... you lose.

The same issue can be said of Facebook (which itself has an insanely onerous Terms of Service), Twitter and so many other services. Google+ is also that way... but right from the start they have provided ways for you to get your data out of the service should you want to do so.

This is why we need to be concerned about issues around the "openness" of the Internet and about "data portability". If we choose to host our content - or a "community" - on a particular service:

  • Who owns the content?
  • Can you move the content if necessary?

We need to be looking at ways to ensure that we are in control of our own content and our own destiny... and not the companies and organizations that may run the services we use.

It's too bad Gannett couldn't have done more to help all these folks who have invested so much time to move their content elsewhere... that would have been the charitable and "right" thing to do.

Alas, they did not... and the moms who invested all their time lose...

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The Internet Cries Out Its Collective Wail of Anguish At The Passing Of Steve Jobs

There are no words... although many are being written.

On an intellectual level, perhaps, we knew it was coming. When he stepped down as CEO back in August, we knew Steve Jobs was in trouble. No one who is as much of a control freak as he was would step down unless things were really not going well.

But still...

... emotionally we hoped against hopes that His Jobsness would somehow cheat death and stand up on stage yet again to give us...

"one more thing"

... one more time.

But... icon, visionary, leader, maker that he was... he was of course only human.

With all the mortality that implies.

And so ever since the word of his death started spreading last night, the Internet has been awash with the collective cries of anguish.

Techmeme, at this precise moment, is a wall of tributes to the man.

Many are incredibly moving... incredibly poignant... incredibly powerful...

"#ThankYouSteve" has been at the top of the Twitter trends. Google has changed its home page to have a link over to Apple's page. Wired has turned its home page into a wall of quotes about Jobs.

Everywhere a thousand other tributes are being posted.

A powerful day of tributes to a man who did so much to change our industry and indeed our world.

I don't know that I can personally add more than what I wrote back in August...

Thank you, Steve Jobs.

He leaves us with a legacy of design...

... of remembering that we need to focus on form as much as function (if not indeed more)...

... of thinking not of what features we need to add to a product or service, but rather what features we need to remove to make the service even simpler and easier to use...

... of remembering to focus on the user experience...

... on the need to embrace the "magic" of what we are doing and to create products and services that truly amaze and delight us...

... and to not settle and to live each day as if it were our last.

If you have never watched his powerful address at Stanford in 2005, take 15 minutes and watch this video:

One of Apple's best known advertising campaigns was the "Think different" series - and they had videos with a narration about "Here's to the Crazy Ones". The folks at 9to5 Mac found a version that Steve Jobs himself narrated:

Naturally, there have been several remixes of this commercial text (although not Jobs' narration) with images from Jobs' history. Two I found moving were this one:

And this one from Gizmodo:

Gizmodo stevejobs tribute

And yes, I admit to shedding a tear or two as I watched these...

There were a zillion tweets about Jobs... and one that I'll close with is simply this:

Twitter stevejobs

R.I.P., Steve Jobs.

Thank you.

P.S. GigaOm ran a nice collection of quotes from Silicon Valley leaders.

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How Will The Internet Evolve? An audio recording of a recent panel offers chilling ideas...

IsocHow will the Internet evolve over the years ahead?

What are the most pressing challenges for the evolution of the Internet?

That was the topic of a recent panel discussion sponsored by the Internet Society held at a recent Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) meeting in Quebec City in July 2011. Being a strong advocate for an open Internet, I found myself listening to the audio recording on a recent car trip... and admittedly found myself rather concerned by the challenges outlined by the panel participants.

With the Internet no longer being simply the "research network" it once was and now being "critical infrastructure", it's a vastly different world with both commercial and government interests wanting to control the network. What are the competing interests? Where is it all going? What may we lose in the evolution?

The session lasted for about 45 minutes and is definitely worth a listen if you are interested in where this critical network known as the Internet is heading...

P.S. Slides are also available, but they are just a few slides served to frame the discussion - the meat of the subject is all in the audio recording.

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John Battelle On The Importance of Aggregating The Digital Content We Post In Walled Gardens

The Internet Is Open
As we spread our digital content across the Internet, through separate services that we do NOT control, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Quora, how do we aggregate all that information somewhere where we DO control the content? So as to preserve our "identity" formed by that collective work?

That is at the heart of John Battelle's great piece yesterday, "We Need An Identity Re-Aggregator (That We Control). I've written at some length over the years about the re-emergence of online "walled gardens" and the need for us to maintain our own identity on the web. I've also spoken about this on any number of FIR reports I've submitted... and to me John really nails it with this paragraph:

The downsides of not owning your own words, on your own platform, are not limited simply to money. Over time, the words and opinions one leaves all over the web form a web of identity - your identity - and controlling that identity feels, to me, a human right. But unless you are a sophisticated netizen, you're never going to spend the time and effort required to gather all your utterances in one place, in a fashion that best reflects who you are in the world.

As he notes further on in the piece, even if you link to your contributions on one of those services, should that service disappear all your content is lost.

Over the past few months, I've been trying to change my behavior a bit and revert my own writing to how it used to be. I'm trying to post messages on my own blogs FIRST and then linking to it from the other services.

Even this post... I could have left it as a comment on John's blog, or as a reply inside of Facebook or Google+... but instead I am posting it here it is on a platform that I control.

It's hard... the various services make it seductively convenient just to have all your interaction within the walls of that service. And I certainly do have some level of conversation within those walls. But for longer content - or commentary that I want to preserve, even in the form of links to other sites with some comment, I'm trying to do more of that from my own sites. Kind of like how "blogging" was back about 5+ years ago before we got all caught up in these new shiny services that we all enjoy so much.

Meanwhile, I, too, would love to have a "meta service" along the lines of what John suggests...

Image credit: jeremybrooks on Flickr

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Why The "Nym Wars" Matter - Preserving Pseudonymity On An Open Internet

Identity (Clone trooper Tales #44)

There's an identity war going on out on the Internet right now... there are multiple aspects to it... but the key is that:

it is a battle for control of YOUR identity!

Think of any website you've visited lately that has offered you the ability to "Login with Facebook" or "Sign in with Twitter".

It's simple. Easy. Convenient.

And dangerous.

Because in embracing the convenience of such services (and I am certainly guilty of this myself), we surrender control of our identity to the identity provider.

But that is a broader topic for a much longer piece I want to write...

Right now I want to touch on the point:

What if the "identity provider" won't let you use what you consider your "real" identity?

What if the identity provider requires you to use your "birth name" (or "real name") instead of the name that everyone knows you as?

Welcome to the world of pseudonyms... persistent identities used by people instead of the names they were given at birth.

Pseudonyms have been with us for eons... as noted above, authors and entertainers have long used them. In fact, a pseudonym was involved with the founding of the United States.

And this pseudonymity is exactly what is at stake in what is being tagged as the "#nymwars" on Twitter.

This latest battle in the much larger war really began back on July 22nd, when Kirrily Robert, a developer (and former co-worker of mine) who has gone by the pseudonym "Skud" for many years, was suspended from Google+ for not using her real name and took to her blog to publicize this fact. There have been literally hundreds (and maybe thousands) of articles on the topic posted between then and now... with the most recent wave being about Google CEO Eric Schmidt's comments that Google wants you to use your real name because they want to be an identity provider... and do things with that "real identity" of yours.

This battle isn't just about Google+, though. Facebook would also like you to only use your "real name" and to have you assert only your "real" identity.

I could go on at great length about why this is a bad idea, but would instead point you to this excellent but lengthy piece:

Read it... and then go back and read it again. A powerful piece laying out so many of the reasons why pseudonymity is important.

And a key point is:

Pseudonymity is NOT anonymity.

There is an entirely separate discussion to be had around true anonymity... and the value therein - or not.

But that is entirely different from the idea of a persistent identity that one uses as a replacement for one's "real name".

Should we not have the right to use the name that people know us by on these services?

The response, of course, is that using these services is optional and you can, of course, choose NOT to participate in Google+... or Facebook... or whatever other service requires you to use your "real name".

And obviously that is an option.

But what if many of the conversations I want to participate in have moved to one of those services? What if all my friends are sharing photos using some new service... and I can't because I'm forced to use a different identity than what I want to use?

What if I am an author or entertainer and want to engage on that service with my fans through the persona I use?

What if that service is the only way to communicate out of my country or region and using my real name may get me killed?

Pseudonymity matters.

Control over our identity matters.

The ability to control the identity we choose to use on services on the Internet matters.

The war for our identity will continue to rage... will the victor be the organizations who control the services we want to use? or will we retain the right to control our identity?

Your choice...

Other good articles worth reading:

Image credit: koisny on Flickr

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