Google+ and the identity thing

google plus venn diagram

I’m on the bandwagon of Marco Arment and Dave Winer when it comes to the need for people to own and control their online identity. Facebook.com/rexhammock is not something I own; I merely use it — but RexHammock.com and RexBlog.com are — even though the hardware and software which host and enable them are not.

I’m also completely in the camp of (thanks, Dave for this screen grab) Anil Dash and Fred Wilson in my belief that a blog maintained like theirs (and I hope mine) overtime and with consistency has value that something like Google+ or Twitter or even “a book” can never come close to achieving.

So it should come as no surprise that I believe it is nuts for some people to claim that anything new is going to “kill” blogs or blogging — especially when the people claiming it were never that good at blogging, anyway.

No one convinced me to start blogging. Like Forrest Gump, perhaps, when he started running around America, I just started. One day, perhaps, like Forrest Gump, I’ll stop. But it won’t be because of anything like Google+, Twitter et al.

But one thing I’d like to observe, since this debate seems to have bubbled up in the context of the launch of Google+, while I believe Google+ has no chance of “killing” blogging, I do think it has the potential of being something that can be, one day soon, perhaps, in the framework of my identitfy.

Like the product Marco Arment helped to create, Tumblr*, Google provides a means (Google Apps for Business) for users to “private label” GMail and all other Google “docs” with another domain name. For example, when someone sends me email to myname@hammock.com, it is running on GMail (although, at Hammock, we call it H-Mail, because so many people also have GMail accounts). Google has recently even added a feature that allows the user to toogle back and forth between an “Apps” account (@hammock.com) and a GMail account (@gmail.com) in the same browser — a difficult challenge. (Sidebar: the introduction of Google+ has severely bugged that feature.)

Today, Google+ just works with @GMail accounts. However, one day — and I’m not sure when that will be, but it will be one day — all the things we know this week as Google+ will be available for anyone who has a Google Apps for Business account.

Why do I know this?

Because our company pays $50 per employee per year for each of those accounts. And I know that our company would like to have all of the services of Google+ inside our company so that employees can use the awesome video conferencing feature it has. And we’d also like to use features like “Huddle” and Circles that actually seem more logical in a collaborative working relationship than in the pure “hanging out with friends” context.

And Google knows that if we start thinking of Google+ as Hammock+, it won’t be something we’d block our employees from using — the way some companies (not us) block Facebook and Twitter.

With me, part of the way I’ll believe that Google+ is something really different from Facebook, et al, is when I see them do what I don’t see Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter ever doing: Letting me control my own identity — even as they control one network on which I choose to reside.

*Tumblr.com allows me now to control my identity on their service — RexHammock.com has been residing on a Tumblr account since August, 2007 (however, at first it was merely rex.tumblr.com).