If you think online social networks like Facebook or Web 2.0 companies already know way too much about you, what do you think will happen when all of your information is centralized and simple to transfer from one place to another? From a logistics stand-point, this is a dream come true for some (like me). And while it will be much easier to change your picture once, instead of having to troll through all of your bookmarks in hopes that you'll remember all of the profiles you've filled out in random Websites, it will certainly bring to light some major privacy issues.
TechCruch has a Blog posting from yesterday called, Facebook, Google And Plaxo Join The DataPortability Workgroup, and ReadWriteWeb had one titled, Bombshell: Google And Facebook Join DataPortability.org. While it doesn't sound sexy or smell like Marketing, here's what the DataPortability group is trying to do:
"As users, our identity, photos, videos and other forms of personal data should be discoverable by, and shared between our chosen tools or vendors. We need a DHCP for Identity. A distributed File System for data. The technologies already exist, we simply need a complete reference design to put the pieces together... To put all existing technologies and initiatives in context to create a reference design for end-to-end Data Portability. To promote that design to the developer, vendor and end-user community."
In what sounds like a tech play, we're actually seeing some first seeds into another fascinating realm of how your Personal Brand will unfold in the Digital World going forward. In the real world, you are who you are - people have a general idea about you based on speaking, meeting and watching your actions. In the online world, it was pretty common to have multiple identities - some were even anonymous, and some lived only in virtual worlds. Your Avatar could, literally, be someone totally different from who you "really" are. What's fascinating about this grassroots initiative from DataPortability (and the fact that most of the bigger online social networks or application developers are joining the fold) is how we're moving towards having just one Personal Brand - not a virtual and a real one - just one.
...And that's the way it's supposed to be.
Having one centralized place will certainly create opportunities for individuals to spend more time developing the right kind of relationships versus many kinds of relationships. It also creates an environment where you personal data is more robust - so those who you permit to have access to it (like Facebook and Google), wind up knowing a lot more about you, your habits and who you're connected to.
I guess we'll all have to continue giving up personal information in return for access. Targeted Marketing still seems to be where these places think the money will flow from.
Centralized or not.