In a post in early 2009, I anticipated the coming of a new Internet. Unlike people who thought Web 3.0 would give way to the Semantic Web, I long held it that by maturing as a virtual society, the Internet would inevitably require identities around which this society would be structured, or would structure itself. Hence, I firmly believed and still do that we are going to see a Personal Web emerge over time. By this I not so much mean that the web experience is being personalised, but that we have a singular accredited identity, just like we have in real life with our ID cards, social security numbers, etc.
Signs are that Google is going to lead the way there. In this interview, Google’s Eric Schmidt admits that they are working on an identity infrastructure for the web. So this may finally be the plot behind Google+. And certainly Chrome’s brand new browser identity management is a big step in this direction. Schmidt unmistakenly talks about unique identities perhaps with multiple personas and perhaps personalities. There are of course countless advantages in terms of convenience, personal safety, child protection, identity theft and fraud prevention. Numerous disadvantages too, in terms of policing, tracking, or spying.
So far Google’s long term plans are still kept quiet, and while anonymous browsing and chatting might still stay around for a while, in the end this development might mean that someone who claims to be under the age of thirteen, might indeed be under age.