Monday, June 20, 2005

Firepoll ... get cash with the right identity!

Some friends of mine have created a very cool new start-up called Firepoll. It's like combining Instant Messaging with Surveys ... and you get paid for it! Well ... if you have the right identity.

What they created is a small IM-like service that you install on your machine. You then register with their server, and they ask you a lot of identity/profile information. All of this is stored at their server. Companies interested in doing market research can then visit the Firepoll web site and subscribe to do "Instant Surveys". Through a web page they select all of the attributes of the target market that they are interested in surveying, and in real-time they can see how many of "those" people are currently on-line. They can then design their survey through their browser, and select which "rewards" they are offering for completed surveys.

Lastly, they indicate how many survey results they want and when they post the survey it is sent - instantly - to all of the on-line community members who match the profile that was defined. As soon as enough people have replied, the survey is closed.

As a user of Firepoll, I have it running on my machine all of the time. When a survey is created, where I match the demographic profile requested, I get a small pop-up message on my machine. When I click the message my browser is launched directly to the survey, and the first question is "Which reward do you want?" I can get things like MP3 music, $1 to my PayPal account, discount coupons, etc. I then proceed to answer the survey questions, and then post my results. I get an e-mail with my reward notification in minutes. The entire process is a clean and simple experience.

To me, this is a facinating solution for a number of reasons ... combining many facets of the Internet into one powerful solution that really leverages the power of distributed networks. On top of that, I can leverage my identity - or the one that I define and create - to actually generate money.

It's a cool product ... I'd love to hear feedback from others on what they think of it!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

What? I own my identity? You're kidding ...

I'm way behind on reading and posting, and now I'm playing catch-up. I have been so busy with my new "full time" job, along with working on three different start-ups. Oh yeah ... and with a family. :-)

So this post caught my eye, just because Jim Kobielus would say something so outrageous in my opinion. Anyone who has readm my First Axiom or Second Axiom will immediately know that there is no way that I could ever agree with this kind of statement:
Each person is the only legitimate owner of their identity, all manifestations of that identity, and all associated identity attributes.
What? Are you kidding? What a self-centered perspective of the world! Your identity is completely given to you. It was created and attributed to you by someone else, or some other organization. There is always someone else who knows this information about you, since they are the one(s) who gave it to you! Our identity is an aggregation of perspectives of us, given to us by the communities that we belong to. We can een have different and conflicting identity attributes at the same time ... because we can be members of different communities simultaneously and each of them can offer differing perspectives.

I believe that one of the biggest hurdles that is impacting the successful creation and deployment of Identity Management Solutions is this complete misunderstanding of the origins of our identity. I can understand the "feel good" nature of a comment like this, but as I disassemble the statement it all collapses around one core point ... that a "person is the only legitimate owner of their identity." If my identity is given to me by some community, how I can I be the owner of it? I am the recipient of it ... I have a community pointing their finger at me saying that it is true and accurate ... I even have to refer anyone asking for verification back to that community to have it proven.

It might be true that I would like to have as much control as possible, but there are other people who already know this information. In fact, there is a whole load of identity information that I give away simply by being available for public observation. Any of the other attributes are all ones that I get from elsewhere ... I am told what my identity is by someone else ... and that person or community is the owner of that observation.

I'll even go further ... since I've been wanting to write about this:
No person has a reputation as an absolute. All reputation is generated as an observation by another. All reputation is relative to some other person or community. A reputation is something that is said about you ... you don't have it.

Anyhow ... Jim ... we disagree on this note. I get that you might like this, or want it, as you feel that this would give you some level of security ... but you don't own any of your identity.
Who owns the attributes?. Jim Kobielus has jumped fearlessly into the fray of trying to define the normative principles of identity, by synthesizing the proposals of some others in this space. It's a well thought out piece, with some excellent ideas and only one major flaw. Unfortunately, that flaw comes at the very top of the stack when Jim states:
Each person is the only legitimate owner of their identity, all manifestations of that identity, and all associated identity attributes.


But read the rest of Kobielus' note for some interesting ideas. [The Virtual Quill]

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

A good anti-phishing solution

I really liked the idea behind this solution being developed by Bank of America for anti-phishing. It's really the simplicity that I like. In short, it allows a bank of America customer to customize the web page for their on-line services ... with a picture of image of their choice. So now, when a customer goes to log into the Bank of America site, they can verify that the image is the one that they picked!

I know that there is still the general phishing scam that can be sent out indicating that "Oh yeah ... we had big problems with your server, and your image can not be shown!" ... or "Uh ... we lost your image, please log in and set your image again!" ... but this is a very good start.

The idea of customizing the page ... to maybe even allow the customer to choose among different types of customization ... will allow users to easily notice the differences in the web site, and then identify potential phishing scams.

Simple ... and a good start.