Friday, June 27, 2008

Who controls your presence identity?

Working on my Windows OS, I usually have all my different IM's open: my Sametme for business related chats, my gtalk for personal friends (and people Google decided are connected to me), my MSN Messenger for older connection that were not upgraded to gtalk, and Skype for people I need to VOIP with (usually people from different countries, really.. )

I like having each IM with it's original software. I think it works better that way, and as long as I keep my contacts more or less around the definition above, I can easily disconnect one group over the other, have different presence and availability etc.

When I moved to the mac, things change. I'm not sure the native chats are better anymore, or even if they exists. I want to get connected, and I want to get connected fast. I quickly installed Adium and Skype, and that was that.

Yesterday I was introduced to Digsby which is also a multi network IM client, that also connects to Facebook (and does video, and has several other interesting features, but this is not a review of Digsby), and one of my contacts complained that it's pretty annoying that I appear so many times on her contact list - because she's connected to me all over the place as well.. "why can't it recognize who you are and just display your presence information to me?" she complained. And she has a point.

Lets say that was a possibility. Who's responsibility would it be to do this presence aggregation? Mine - it's my presence, I know where I appear and now, and I am probably the only one who knows what are my contact details on each network: IBM address on Sametime, my Google email address on gtalk, my Hotmail on MSN, etc. I should also be responsible for making sure the presence is aligned in all of these networks (or do I?). However, there are two problem with this approach:

  • I don't care - I don't see the problem (my contacts do). Why do I need to bother to solve it?

  • Even if I cared - synchronizing all my networks is such a pain! My only chance is using one of the multi network client (as I just started using above, but only on my Mac) but then I'd loose the option of controlling my groups..

If it was her responsibility though, then she would need a way to recognize that it's me on all of the networks (while Facebook in way made that possible, forcing people to use real names, not all networks followed - or should follow), and then the presence aggregation rules are pretty complicated (although possibly that latest is the correct one).

I guess the solution should be a combination of the two - I want to control who knows me and where (what I call, in general, my Circle Of Trust), I want to control synchronization and aggregation rules of my presence, and my contacts should control whether they want to use those "recommendations". The whole system has to be very straightforward and highly open, so all networks would use, preferably controlled by a single system, so I'm not dependant on a client installation, or currently used network..

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