With the explosion of social sites, Internet users can be asked to fill out, and keep updated, dozens of profiles all over the Web. For light surfers, who use maybe three sites (say, Digg, Twitter, and Facebook), keeping things up-to-date is simple. There are only three
forms to visit when something changes.
People like me, however, end up amassing a whole bunch of pages to update. Right now I think I’m somewhere between 25 and 50 profiles, plus countless sites and profiles-that-aren’t-for-sites that I am no doubt forgetting. That’s a lot of places to go if I, say, move myself or my blog (for instance). And inevitably, several pages would be overlooked and the information staled. (Don’t tell me I’m the only one; I’ll bet Robert Scoble, Steven Hodson, Louis Gray, and countless other “social media gurus” all have the same problem.)
This applies to location, “homepage,” “blog,” etc., image, interests, and any other bit of information (including short blurbs like Twitter, Blogger, Facebook, etc. provide space for) shared in a social profile. What am I to do if I want to change something? Remember every single site I signed up for? Madness! Searching for my nickname doesn’t help completely, because some profiles just don’t make it into Google.
The time required to figure out the list of sites that need updating, then actually updating them, then figuring out the ones that were overlooked, then most likely forgetting about some that were already updated and going there again only to find that to be the case… Well, I won’t calculate it. It’s a lot. I know; I just changed avatars not too long ago.
That’s one of the things that put this issue in my mind. I’d been using the same graphic for so long, I couldn’t even remember where it had been uploaded. I probably still left some sites with my old avatar, but how am I to remember them all? Only time will help me find them and fix the image.
Really, though, none of this should be necessary. The fact that the disparate profiles are hard to update is only part of the problem. Entering redundant information takes up time, too. Putting in my email address, blog URL, nickname, location, and any other data requested by the site should only have to be done once, and I think there’s already a way for that to happen. It’s just that not very many places support it yet.
Unless I am mistaken, OpenID authentication has profile data built in. Name, email address, location, phone number, address, picture, and all that jazz are stored in one’s OpenID profile (unless, like me, you have Blogger, in which case I have no idea what’s available). So why don’t we leverage this capability? More sites should be supporting OpenID anyway, because it’s just more convenient for everybody.
Correct me if I’m completely wrong and OpenID doesn’t support profile data. I’m almost positive I saw profile management available from one of the other providers I tried (actually, I’m still trying to get that account deleted; I never used it and the site is semi-broken). But I could be remembering incorrectly.
If I’m right, though, still let me know. Confirmation makes me happy, frankly, and I’d love to hear your ideas for expanding or improving upon my little idea here. (I’m not even sure it’s original; someone else has surely come up with this obvious solution before.) Thoughts?