Who’s reading your blog

If you’re like me, you’d like to know who’s reading your blog. Hit counters stopped being accurate a long time ago (thanks spammers!), so you need something else. I’m using MyBlogLog for a select few of my readers in the hope that it catches on (then again, maybe I only have 4 readers…).

Whatever, RSS is where it really stops. Feedburner let’s me know how many people have subscribed to my feed, but that again leaves a lot of readers unaccounted for.

From the other side, there’s a different perspective: what if I want to *tell* a blog that I’m reading it? Currently there’s no way to do that. How about a reader optionally adding an identifier to the RSS GET request?

Any other ideas?

IIW Identity Space Map

Via Phil Windley:

“Kaliya created a wall hanging from butcher paper and lots of little colored construction paper icons to hang on it. This was hanging on the wall the entire workshop and people were free to add to it. The “map” was designed to represent the evolution of Internet or user-centric identity over the last 2 years or so and look into the future about a year. Kaliya had already pre-populated it and I took a picture to represent the intial state.”

Nice work. Love to hear the discusion that lead to it, though.

Identity vs. Reputation

Inspired by a post by Johannes Ernst, quoting Phil Windley:

“Identity is my story about me.

Reputation is your story about me.

Apart from being an excellent definition, it brings the concept of reputation back into the discussion.

On a personal identity basis, as in eBay or other online marketplaces, we all know how to judge reputation. It may not be 100% safe, as it documents the past, but it’s a good indication at least.

In a corporate environment, this may be even more important. We’ve been spending vast amounts of money making sure we have protocols to convey identity, mostly cryptographically securing that we know who’s on the other end of the line.

We now need to combine that with some kind of reputation information, i.e. how much access or capabilities will I be comfortable giving to a digital entity. CRM may be a way to do this on an individual basis, but where’s the conecpt for a centralised service?

This may even be extendable to the old ActiveX problem. Today, software installation requires you to trust the author. It may be comforting to know that it was a certain John Smith from Montana’s program that formatted your hard disk, but wouldn’t it be much nicer to be able to check back on other users’ feedback on the component instead?

On password sniffing

Bruce Schneier reports on an InfoWorld piece about password security.

Nothin new there, really, but still interesting to see how long these issues have been around without anybody adressing them. I wrote about the deficiencies of cookie based authentication before – so please see this as another plea for a decent identity system that saves us from having to send around plain text passwords.

Johannes is on a roll: RSS-Foaf

More movement in the quest for a simpler FOAF: Johannes Ernst now proposes to enhance RSS to be a bearer for FOAFy data structures:

“When I tried to explain the RSFOAF idea to somebody last Friday, I got thinking: from an information structure perspective, how exactly is the set of members in my social network different from the set of gifts on an Amazon gift list? Well, it isn’t, at least not much. So … if RSS works for gift lists and other sets, why not for FOAF? Reminder to self: RSS is becoming the universal subscription format, so why not use it?”

This is an example of how that might look like if mixed with a style sheet – quite impressive.

However – it’s quite a bit closer to the original than the simple RSFOAF idea, and it mandates an XML format which RSFOAF did not. I actually liked that part best in the RSFOAF idea – people’s identity information today is in sooo many different formats: LinkedIn, Friendster, OpenBC, VCARD, Plaxo, what have you. I’d much rather have a web service understand all these different formats than me having to care about them, much less convert them into another format.

Now, let’s wait for Johannes to come up with a better idea next week, shall we? ;)

Down to earth identity

The Head Lemur tries to simplify the identity discussion:

“The Holy Grail of Digital Identity is some thing, expressed in ones and zeros, moving across a computer network between two computers, to establish a valid presence, and facilitate a transfer.

Digital Identity is getting way too complicated. Some of the brightest folks on the planet are working their fingers and brains into sodden puddles wrestling with Digital Identity. That may be part of the problem. “

That (and the rest that he wrote) is definitely a valid point. The same thing occured to me yesterday after watching Dick Hardt’s MTV-style OSCON keynote on Identity 2.0 (which is a MUST SEE!) – after he was finished I thought: “so now – what do we do?”.

That’s exactly why I like efforts such as RSFOAF – let’s get something going instead of just talking about how nice it would be if we had the whole picture already!