The Fight for Your Digital Identity

If you’ve been creating sites for a while, you know that domain names started become difficult to find years and years ago. I remember brainstorming with a full team of 8 for hours before finally finding a domain name (barely) suitable for our business 10 years ago. Of course, new TLDs have since helped with this a bit, but it’s still an issue since everyone wants a .com. Of course, now you want not only the domain to be available, but also the Twitter and Facebook name and let’s face it, it would be best for the name to fit on an iPhone/Android home screen.

But that’s just the beginning.

With everyone and their mother now online, a new fight has begun : the fight for your digital identity. Businesses are now fighting to be the one representing you online. A year ago, when Facebook opened up custom URLs for profiles, their goal was obvious. What they wanted, and what every businesses like Facebook wants is to be your identity. If you have www.facebook.com/yourname, it might just that this is the URL you’ll give to people instead of your own domain name (if you even own one). This is huge for these sites.

Twitter has done the same since the beginning and there too registering your name is important. Google is now trying to do the same with Google Profile. Once you have such an identity, you can then increasingly use them to login on other sites with things like Twitter’s @anywhere, Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect. In a way, these services are achieving what OpenID was supposed to do years ago. OpenID’s problem though, was that the name isn’t known at all. What’s an OpenID? Sure you can use your Gmail account as an OpenID, but who knows this? Because of this, it never caught on.

New social networking services come and go, but if you’re not registering your name on each of them, you’re potentially making a mistake. We live in a world where your online identity is vital. Who wants to be John4576? Register on each of them as early as possible. Some will die quickly, some will never become important, but when one of them becomes the next Twitter or the next Facebook, you’ll be good to go.

Oh, and if you’re having kids, I’m honestly sorry for you. If your parents thought finding a name was difficult before, you have quite the task ahead of you.┬áIf you name your son John Smith, wish him luck in the future. He’s going to need it. Googling that name won’t be easy.