Pieces of me: disintegrating online micro-presence


Jaiku logo…Just came upon Jaiku, the latest in micro-presence aggregation apps, thanks to ex-roommate Andy Smith, who’s now working with them — in one of his first gigs post Flock.

They recently went through a redesign and I have to admit, it looks pretty good.

It makes you wonder though, just because you can pull in the pieces of your multi-faceted identity into one place, should you? (With more variants of this idea popping up regularly, there’s clearly a trend here.)

I mean, in theory, horizontal integration may lead to a fuller picture of you, but the reality is that folks might only be interested in certain verticals of your life, and not the whole kaboodle.

And even when I was sketching out Rhyzomatic to solve my own problem of decentralized identity, my thinking was along the lines of bringing together links to the original sources, and letting people choose which pieces interest them most. Admittedly, I’ve merged in a few Flickr updates here and there with daily Ma.gnolia updates, but that’s as far as I’ve gone (even then I asked permission and some folks derided my choice — though I can’t find the post now).

So I’ve got Twitter, I’ve got Plazes, I’ve got my blog (more than one), Flickr, YouTube, and on and on. I should be better about maintaining it, but I’ve got ClaimID pointing to these and other sources as well. Along comes Jaiku and allows me to bring these things all together into one river, and well, I like it, but without the original context, how does it represent me? This may be a case where the sum is not greater than the parts — and that, for online identities to work, you have to allow people to break off the pieces of people that actually interest them most.

This is curious to me, and perhaps to other side of single sign-on and unified identity. Maybe you like my screenshots but find my blog boring. Should I force you to consume all of it just because I think it’s interesting? Somehow that flies contrary to the best aspects (pun intended) of this, the modern web.

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: Molly.com (YC W18), Uber, Google.

3 thoughts on “Pieces of me: disintegrating online micro-presence”

  1. it is a mess.

    i mean, you’re a contact of mine on flickr, so i see your latests images in my flickr friend’s feed, but since you merge flickr images into your blog rss feed thru feedburner, i now get repeats and the result of that experience *kills* my expectation whenever factorycity lights up in bloglines.

    when i tried running my flickr and del.icio.us feeds into my blog feed, the local aggregator in town dropped me because the editor viewed it as garbage posts.

    so, basically, i agree with you. let people use google to search “chris messina” and a topical term to find your position on something. because it’s how we already (re)search.

  2. I think that you’re right… for the most part. The problem is that some people like it all together, some people don’t… and then some people get a benefit out of just grabbing my feed and getting these different facets all rolled into one without having to search around…

    I think I’ll change it at some point — maybe even using something like Jaiku for the “combined” view — and then removing the FeedBurner flares.

    Thanks for the feedback.

  3. i will say, when i’m not in my casual reading mental model, i do find it interesting to see your bookmarks and images, solely because i know where you sit with magnolia and how you use flickr. from a geeky, using the web to upload and disseminate information angle, it’s interesting in itself.

    so if that describes your “audience,” well, there’s no need to change it up.

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