The magic would never have been possible if their vision had stopped at an “Identity Selector”, for years billed as the savior of the identity universe (see my recent post Why We Really Don’t Need an “Identity Selector”). This week at Kynetx’ conference, Paul and Phil had their coming-out party re-interpreting the “identity selector” as merely an unimportant user interface to something much more valuable: driving personalization of any page displayed in the browser using the data available to the identity selector, all without cooperation by the publisher of the page.
The result: everybody’s web pages, even those people’s who have never heard of me, can become personal to me. That possibility is a very big deal and could totally change the way the entire internet looks and feels. And destroy a bunch of rather sizable businesses (irrelevant advertising, anybody?) in the process.
For years, it has been very clear that with the proliferation of websites out there has to be some kind of integration point for each individual. An integration point where all that stuff out there that I use comes together and becomes personal to me.
A few years ago, many of us thought that an individual’s blog would become that integration point. But with blogging software essentially stagnated for years, that didn’t happen.
It could have been RSS syndicators or the like, but no. Somehow they couldn’t envision anything beyond showing feed data.
The idea of mash-ups was great, but it fizzled out. Too hard to do in practice.
Right now, Facebook has the best shot at becoming that personal integration point, and it certainly wants to be it. With initiatives such as Facebook Connect, they are assembling an armada of business partners that gives them a good chance to become it. But then, it won’t be for me because I am not making my on-line personal and business relationships subject to a veto (and constant monitoring) by any one big company. At the end of the day, many people will think like that and so Facebook can’t be the solution, only a bandaid.
Kynetx and Azigo think that integration point should be right in my browser, driven by the personal information that I stored on my personal computer. (I call that information the personal data store, which may be accessed by an “identity selector” and many other kinds of software).
If you think of it, the PC/browser is not an unreasonable place for this personal integration point at all. It’s a “personal” computer for a reason, and much of that personal information is much better stored on that personal computer than somewhere in the cloud, for privacy reasons. So why not use that personal information to change and relate the web pages that I access on that personal computer, to make them more relevant to me? To make them “my” pages? VRM whether the vendor likes it or not is not a bad concept either …
Of course only time will tell. The odds against pulling this client-side revolution off are, well, impressive ;-) There are substantial technical hurdles, possibly legal landmines, usability is unclear, as are distribution, possible vetos by key technology vendors (e.g. browser manufacturers) etc. etc. But it’s worth trying, and worth some cheers.
I’ll be watching with interest how this develops.
[P.S. I didn't manage to be at the conference myself, but have been following these projects for some time.]