[iDC] Facebook Connect

Grayson Cooke g.cooke at cqu.edu.au
Fri May 16 09:01:42 UTC 2008

Thanks for this post Paul - this is fascinating. My response is to the quote from the Facebook Developers article, towards the bottom of the blog post. Two phrases jump out at me as indicative of a central absurdity here:

1) "Facebook users represent themselves with their real names and real identities. With Facebook Connect, users can bring their real identity information with them wherever they go on the Web"

Real identities. Within the context of online social networking, this is just oxymoronic, and I am embarrassed even making this point. It's as if all the potential variability, the freedom, the play, the masquerade, the multiplicity of the last 15 years of experimentation in 'virtual' identity just got the wind blown out of its sails. In this scenario, weirdly enough, "on the internet, everyone knows you're a dog."

2) "We look forward to working with other leading identity providers to develop the best policies and standards for enabling the portability and protection of users' information."

This is more complex. Identity providers? Firstly, we can refer to quote 1 here; if there is such a thing as an identity _provider_ then there's certainly no such thing as a real identity. But secondly, who are these identity providers? Is this how Facebook conceives itself? Perhaps I'm being naïve in assuming that because Facebook users spend a great deal of time sending each other fluffy squirrels for their fluffy squirrel farm, and Facebook application builders (350,000 of them we are told!) spend a great deal of time developing fluffy squirrel farm applications, then identity in such a scenario would be subject to the same narrative of play, fun, and make believe. Indeed, this is how Charlene Li conceives it: "Overall, this means that all of the fun stuff that developers are building into apps on Facebook Platform will now be available for third-party developers..."

But Charlene is mistaken: this is serious business. This is a real identity. Facebook is an identity provider. More: they are a LEADING identity provider, and they want to work with other leading identity providers; the identity providers who genuinely provide real identities, as opposed, we assume, to the identity providers who DON'T lead, who DON'T provide real identities, those SHAM identity providers who most likely provide ERSATZ identities, or at minimum identities that in some way fail to measure up to the standards set by Facebook's 'fun stuff'...

Now I have to go and port my fluffy squirrel farm over to my Ebay store. Perhaps I can leverage some of the evident value from my real identity to get a high bid on one of these critters...

Grayson Cooke

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-----Original Message-----
From: Paul B. Hartzog [mailto:paulbhartzog at gmail.com] 
Sent: Tuesday, 13 May 2008 4:53 AM
To: iDC
Subject: [iDC] Facebook Connect

Despite my published debate with Trebor on re-public.com, I don't post to this list as much as I would like, but I read it all :-)

would love to hear the responses to this:



PaulBHartzog at PaulBHartzog.org
PaulBHartzog at panarchy.com
PHartzog at umich.edu
The Universe is made up of stories, not atoms.
 --Muriel Rukeyser

See differently, then you will act differently.
 --Paul B. Hartzog
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