Our identity on the web is our network of contacts. Let's regain control over our identities by creating an identity management software that runs locally on our computers. I need your ideas and input!
The censorship fiasco at Flickr - my original Web 2.0 home - has left me deeply unsettled. I am in the process of moving over here, but the question still remains what will happen if this service becomes successful enough so that its owners decide to cash in and sell the service to some other Internet moghul (like Flickr did). After all, Ipernity is a business too, and no charitable institution.
One of the fundamental contradictions of Web 2.0 is the fact that users generate the content, but hosters take possession of it because they own the service. And owning the service means they not only benefit from the content we generated, they also own our network of contacts. To put it bluntly, they attempt to own our very identity on the Internet.
I think it is time that we do something to change Web 2.0 from being provider-centric to being user-centric:
How about making our network identity / contacts a 'moveable feast' which we can take along if need be in case someone tries to sell our favourite community (again)?
I envision some kind of freeware software that everybody can install on his/her computer: The software's first function would be to communicate with the image host's database via scripts to download all the user's identity and contact data.
The software would - as a second function - act like a file swapping program (remember the early days of Napster?) and contact all my contacts' / friends' computers that host the same program to check for any mutual contacts / friends, and whether they changed their address or image hoster.
A third function of that software could be to periodically contact all image hosters the user is a member of, and download links to all new images or messages.
The effect of such a software on the nature of Web 2.0 could be substantial: Such a program would break up the limitations imposed by image hosters that 'lock in' their customers, effectively making them prone to their business-related manipulations. Once a large number of users would use such a software, consumers could punish image hosters that treat their customers without respect by just moving elsewhere - WITHOUT LOSING THEIR CONTACTS.
I am in the process of setting up a blog outside of Ipernity for this project. The purpose of that blog will be to provide a framework for structuring the task of generating this software. I will post it here as soon as the blog is up and running - please check back frequently.
Tell me what you think of this idea, and whether you would be able to help making this dream become reality.