December 28, 2007

Will There be One Profile to Rule Them All?

Recently, I updated my Blogger template to include a new feature from MyBlogLog called the "About Me Widget". Introduced two weeks ago (See the MyBlogLog blog for more), this widget aims to summarize all the different services you use, from Digg to, Flickr,, LinkedIn and more, and give you a nice-looking, customizable, tool that keeps everything in one place, rather than what you see on many blogs, where you can have any number of links or graphics combining to do the same thing.

While MyBlogLog is aiming to be "The DNS for People", and has a ways to go this is a great start. But even this widget, in its current incarnation, has holes, and others, like Google and FriendFeed, are serving up knowledgeable profiles of their own.

See the below graphic - which one knows me best?

Let's take a look:

1. Google's Profile (... More)

Positives: As seen on my Google Reader shared links page, the Google Profile is extremely flexible. I can add an infinite number of services and label them however I want, as well as add a picture. If the service is a popular one, or Google can grab the "favico" icon, you will see that next to the service.

Negatives: The downside of inifinite flexibility is that you're really working with a blank canvas, and have to put it all in yourself. Also, it's not entirely clear if this profile is portable, out of Google's apps and to your blog or anywhere else.

2. MyBlogLog's "About Me Widget" (... More)

Positives: As seen on the right side of the blog, the "About Me Widget" can be customized to fit the look and feel of my blog, is well designed, and gives a uniform view for all my services. MyBlogLog also simplifies the process by filling out the basic parts for each service, and just asking me to add my user ID to complete the URL. As with Google, it includes the "favico" icons as well. MyBlogLog also gets bonus points for automatically importing my MyBlogLog sites and community links.

Negatives: MyBlogLog's trying to do me a favor by setting up a pre-determined list of services almost had me not installing it. Where the heck is FriendFeed after all? If I could add a new service to MyBlogLog and include FriendFeed, or Ballhype, or any other service where I have an ID they haven't thought of, it would be outstanding. Also a big miss - the ability to add e-mail or cell phone information. If they got some customization, I could further clean up my sidebar.

3. FriendFeed's User Profile (... More)

Positives: FriendFeed not only tracks where you can get my services, but actually does the dirty work by finding out what I've done on each one. It shows the "favico" icons for every service I use, and is continually adding more services for me to add to my feed. It also displays to anyone interested which other users of FriendFeed I've subscribed to.

Negatives: FriendFeed isn't trying to tell people who I am, so there's no summary or "about me", no room for e-mail, cell phone data, etc. It also, like MyBlogLog, is working in a set structure, so I couldn't add a profile for Ballhype there, until they set it up. It too isn't intended to be portable, although a Web widget for your entire feed is available.

So who wins?

Well, right now, as far as presenting on my blog, MyBlogLog is winning, though I'll still be miffed if they don't make it easy for me to add FriendFeed to my list of services pretty soon. I've already asked.

FriendFeed is a must-have service I'm checking multiple times a day, and if you need an invite, let me know in the comments. I feel FriendFeed knows me the best, as it knows all my activity, although the profile is light today. As for Google, again, they're building apps that are for engineers, and not real people. There has got to be some structure, and just maybe, over time, they'll get some.