Break Down the Walls

This post is copied and pasted. It started life as a response to an email from Ronan asking for my take on a New Scientist article on the creation of passports to transfer avatars from one online world (like Second Life) to another.

Seems to be representative of the upcoming (or current?) shift from centralised social hubs to open standards for social interaction. Thisis why I keep saying Facebook should sell. It’s going to be dead in a year or two if it keeps the current walled garden design. The walled garden didn’t work for Adam and Steve and it’s not going to work here either.

We’re not going to have a single repository of friends lists and personal details which we laboriously migrate from one old and busted service to the new hotness every six months. The next round will be open protocols that let you describe your relationships once and use that in any service that supports it, whether that’s photo sharing, music recommendations, event invitations or whatever.

It all starts with OpenID for decentralised identity verification, which is already gaining traction. Every AOL subscriber already has an OpenID, whether they know it or not. So does every Live Journal user. How long before Yahoo!, Google, and MSN follow suit? Conservatively, I predict that by the end of next year there’ll be at least one university, probably in America, that assigns students an OpenID alongwith their email address.

It only makes sense that the virtual worlds would follow the same path, and for the same reasons.

I do not know what’s up with the Dutch.