OpenID: the unseen branded revenue opportunity

I’ve gone on and on about identity on the web and the battle over owning your namespace online. As far as I’m concerned there are clear and present dangers in making an ill- or uninformed decision about who you host your identity with. If you use whatever is simply the easiest or most convenient, you’re essentially handing over the reigns to how you’re presented on the web. I call this “brand-mediated identity” — where your identity is essentially subjugated to a company or organization.

“Brand-mediated identity” in and of itself isn’t bad. In fact, it’s a choice — one that I argue shouldn’t be made unconsciously or involuntarily (but all too often is because obvious or viable alternatives aren’t available).

MadMenYourself.com - MadMen Premieres August 16 only on AMCIndeed, people mediate their online identities through brands all the time — the latest example being the “Madmenize” app that replaces your Twitter avatar with a cartoon head from the acclaimed Mad Men series. This kind of mediation happens with increasing frequency on Twitter, where identity is fluid and often the sum of a tweet, an avatar and a username. Renny Gleeson has even started cataloguing these “icon memes” — they’re that frequent.

But today I came across a truly inspirational approach to brand-mediated identity that portends great potential for OpenID and for brands generally — especially those with eager and adoring fans:

CC Network

Creative Commons and OpenIDWhat better way to both support Creative Commons and show off your patronage than by identifying yourself across the web with your very own unique, secure, privacy-protecting creativecommons.net OpenID (just like Zach Beauvais)?

For a mere $50 minimum donation ($25 for students), you can own a limited edition URL and profile from Creative Commons that identifies you to the world and provides a compelling revenue opportunity for the non-profit foundation.

While companies like SAP become OpenID providers for pedestrian reasons like simplifying authentication across their many different distributed web properties, Creative Commons is redistributing the brand equity and social capital their members have accrued over the last several years by letting people show and verify their affiliation to the organization.

With this simple example, we can start to see the symbiosis of making an intentional choice about identity: Creative Commons finds a new revenue opportunity and members of the community have a way to express their affiliation and promote the brand. This is exactly the kind of thing that I could see the NYTimes doing for its writers (as an extension to its Times People platform) — providing them both a home on the web and a way to validate their association with a more well-known entity. This of course is just a small experiment for Creative Commons — but a very exciting one in terms of what it means for identity on the web.

5 Comments

  1. at 7pm on Aug 5th # |

    Hey Chris,

    Do people really care that much about their namespace from a “i’m hip, i’m in this namespace” — I’m not sure it converts to a big enough revenue opportunity…

    There is only a revenue opportunity if your namespace is soooo attractive and people will use it as their primary identity (being one of many secondary identities means it soon will become irrelevant).

    I dont want multiple identities addresses to show my affinity with an organization, and I certainly wouldn’t pay for (simplified to email addresses) angus@goseahawks.com and then in the basketball season I become angus@stormvip.com.

    But if it was angus@australia.com, sure, I’d probably pay big for that.

    thx
    Angus

  2. trench said
    at 8pm on Aug 5th # |

    I know login and identity shouldn’t be considered the same thing, but more times than not they are. Users across the web are typically restricted by what I call the ID Singularity (e.g., there can only be one Tom_Green… one Bob_Smith… one Jack_Mehoff). This is rather ridiculous. A system that surged to life in the 90’s still rules most of our online lives. Do I have a vast schematic outlining a solution? Nah. But I’m pretty sure the answer is bigger, and probably simpler, than anything we’ve already seen.

    While the creative commons thing is quite nifty, you pretty much make my case for me with Zach’s example. It doesn’t matte how much money the rest of the Zach’s out there donate… they will never be creativecommons.net/zach/.

  3. at 2am on Aug 6th # |

    How do you handle the comments? I love the fact that twitts and comment from other properties end up here.

    About making people pay for namespace? Mmmh. . . Maybe. Or not. I’d rather bet that people would be ready to pay for convenient and safe providers (mobile, randomised, easy-to-use thumb-based authentification for everything) instead of fancy namespace. Actually, they’d probably have the security provider authenticate for a very safe company providing the namespace, and then that second player provide OpenID.

  4. at 6pm on Aug 6th # |

    For me, a namespace holds a certain identity. I’d always wanted to have my own name on my own site.

    Having a hotmail address just got weird, the moment I tried to do business-like things.

  5. at 5pm on Aug 8th # |

    Sounds way better than a tote bag or coffee cup.

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