23 November 2010

Facebook IS Real ID

Psst! Wanna make a million billion dollars?

What if Facebook had slots for real world identitiers, like DMV name or bank name?  What if you built a Facebook app and a meatspace organization that would vet people, linking their Facebook ID to some real world ID?  You could charge them.  And you could offer insurance to relying parties through your Facebook app.

Vetting would have to be serious, because the fraudsters would be on to you like stink on manure.  But you could charge real money for this to recover your costs, because it would be for a significant period, like 5 years, and the better quality, the more value to the user.

Facebook themselves could offer support for self-asserted links to professional organizations, like IEEE or ASCAP or LinkedIn.  But it would take a real-world registration organization to vet the person with face-to-face meetings and breeder documents. (Check out this article in the Keesing Journal of Documents & Identity, by John Mercer, a U.S. State Department guru on documents.  He managed the development of the chip-enabled U.S. passport.  This article is just a terrific introduction to the topic of breeder documents, with lots of examples and concrete advice: Breeder Documents - the keys to identity.)

Before you rush out and start-up your new company, check out this free research from Gartner (the Burton Group) by Bob Blakley A Relationship Layer for the Web . . . and for Enterprises, Too. Bob is one of the savviest people in identity and this is a tour-de-force.  Read this and look for the term relationship service.  That would be you!

Have you ever thought about building a phony Facebook ID?  Besides being illegal, think about how really hard it is.  A fake home town, fake birthday, fake friends, fake pictures?  Each in and of themselves is not big proofing document, but taken together, they are a very compelling reality.  I am sure that there are people who can do it, but it is not easy.  It is not unreasonable to think about the person behind a Facebook as real.  What if that identity was reliably linked to other valuable identities, that have money and legacy and the law associated with them?

And this reality is what will make a Facebook ID so valuable in the future.  It is a true Real ID, way better than what the average state DMV can put together.

I heard Luke Shepard, a twenty-something Facebook engineer and evangelist talk at the 2010 Burton Catalyst conference.  Right there in front of God and everybody, he stressed that a real identity is the whole point of Facebook's design metaphor.

Nothing like basing an idea on reality to ensure long-term success.

(As an aside, if you did this for all personal data services, not just Facebook, it would get even more valuable.)

21 November 2010


This is a very pragmatic blog post, just to share what I’ve learned about e-readers.  It is not meant to be comprehensive, just useful.

There are four e-readers that I find interesting.  I use all four of them, partly to spread the wealth around, and partly because they each have a feature or two that I like.  I use them both on my PCs and on my iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPhone).

Kindle - Amazon
Hardware: yes. Electronic paper. WiFi (and for fee GSM). USB
Software: PCs, Macs, iOS, Android, Blackberry
Software night reading mode: yes
Formats supported: Kindle, mobi,
Importing: only books downloaded from the Kindle store can be used w/ the software versions.  WIth the hardware version, importing is possible.

Nook - Barnes and Noble
Hardware: yes. Electronic paper. WiFi, USB
Software: PCs, Macs, iOS, Android
Software night reading mode: yes
Formats supported: Nook, ePub, PDB, PDF
Importing: only books downloaded from the Nook store can be used w/ the software versions. With the hardware version, importing is possible.

iBooks - Apple
Hardware: no.
Software: iOS
Software night reading mode: no
Formats supported: Apple, ePub, PDF
Importing: Book files can be dragged onto the Books section in iTunes and then synced w/ the device.

Stanza - Lexcycle (a division of Amazon)
Hardware: no.
Software: PC, Macs, iOS
Software night reading mode: yes
Formats supported: ePub, eReader. The PC and Mac versions can handle almost any format.
Importing: Many ways to import books.  This is in fact one of the big draws for Stanza

Some comments:

Electronic paper:
This is a display technology that is different that the LCD screens on laptops and phones. It only works in black and white, but has two terrific properties:
- It does not require back-lighting.  It works very much like ink on paper.  Thus it is very readable in direct sunlight but must be illuminated to be read in the dark.  LCDs are the opposite: very hard to read in sunlight, easy to read in the dark.
- It only requires power when changing the display to a new page.  Thus the battery life on the Kindle and the Nook is exceptional - days and weeks.

Acquiring eBooks:
All the eReaders have online download stores.  Kindle, Nook, and iBooks are nearly equivalent in their for-sale offerings.  I try to spread the business around.  Stanza has some for-sale offerings.  All have some free offerings, but Stanza is great way to read the free books on the Internet.  All the for-sale stores keep a record of your purchases and you can download them for like.  However, it is probably prudent to save the email confirmations of your purchases.

19 November 2010

The thoughtful Right comes back from the dead

http://tootallsid.blogspot.com/2010/05/liberal-and-conservative.htmlA year or so ago I just despaired at the "conservative" movement in the U.S.  It just seemed to be fatcats and idiots, with no smart, practical people.  After all, McCain picked Palin as as his Veep candidate, which thankfully handed the election to Obama.

But now I read David Brooks, Ross Douhat, and Reihan Salam (the last two are authors of  Grand New Party) and they are just full of energy and ideas, with links to other smart conservatives.  They actually respectfully consider the ideas of the liberals, attacking the idea and not the person, and with reason and not sarcasm.  Heck, sometimes they even agree with the liberals!!

I wish I knew what happened.  Maybe the nuts and dysfunctional fatcats scared them straight.

Btw, I just finished Robert Reich's Aftershock and really liked it.  I learned a lot.  His framing of the problem seemed clear and easy to test for soundness.  And, like his conservative brethren, he is polite and respectful.

There's hope!