The idea of the site is that you will use it as a way to directly access all your sites and/or identities on the Web. What they claim in their blog is that DandyID solves the problem of online identity dispersion. It sounds great at first, but it also reminds me that identity dispersion may be a feature, not a problem. Since I believe in self-experimentation, I have opened an account there, and you can check my public profile. Don’t expect to find any interesting information; I made sure that there was not much to learn there that you couldn’t easily find anywhere.
DandyID knows about more than 300 sites, as diverse as Google’s Picasaweb and YouTube, some more professional-oriented stuff like LinkedIn, and many, many Web 2.0 sites of all kinds. And for me, this diversity is the main problem.
I have several lives on the Web, and I try to keep them separated. If you search my name, you will easily find me on several sites, including this blog, and a few others. You will also find a few homonyms. Finding my personal stuff, like family pictures and videos is slightly more difficult, although I make no effort to hide them. You can even find a few public political ramblings, but there are other parts of my life that I keep clearly separated from work.
I have some issues with DandyID’s view that the Web is open, and that you should make it easy for people to know everything about you. On one side, it may have the benefit of making some people realize that you can’t hide on the Web, but on the other side, making everything readily accessible is quite different.
A few months ago, I was going through old student-time pictures. I scanned a few, and made them available on the Web for my friends, because they were good memories that were not incriminating for anybody on them. Many more pictures were just scanned and stored on my PC, because I did not find suited for Web publication. And a few of them were not even scanned, because I really, really don’t want them on the Web at any time. Of course, I am lucky enough to be over 40, which means that my student pictures are on film and paper, but many people aren’t that lucky, and I believe that it is important to be somehow able to sort between your different lives on the Web.
So, DandyID is an interesting idea, because it is true that an online identity is hard to build. On the other hand, the concept would be many times more interesting if it allowed us to define several identities for our different online lives.
Of course, DandyID are not alone on this space, and there is a wide variety of services. You can find out about a few of them in this study.