Google+ Is An Identity Service

Andy Carvin blogged some interesting comments by Eric Schmidt at the Edinburgh TV Festival yesterday:

He (Eric) replied by saying that G+ was build primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they're going to build future products that leverage that information. 

I blogged about identity the other day and outlined my view that every social service is hosting a part of your identity online. I listed almost ten social services that host a piece of my online identity in that post.

So I agree with Eric that Google+ is in part an identity service. But "primarily an identity service?" That's notable. Particularly in the context of what he said after that. "if they're going to build future products that leverage that information."

It begs the question of whom Google built this service for? You or them. And the answer to why you need to use your real name in the service is because they need you to. Well at least we got that out there and can deal with it.


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Very true and well put. It’s that fine line between scary but useful. It was scary when I saw all my services tied together by Google without my involvement. They figure that if they give back enough value, most users won`t mind what goes behind the scenes. But if some accident happen…yikes.

    1. Idil Cakim

      You’re absolutely right in your fear. And what’s more is that the average person is not aware of all these data points and connections. Here’s a blog post I had just written on the +1 button getting added to customer review and rating platforms. (… Google is piecing many social pieces together with identities. 

  2. RichardF

    yup but better them than Facebook.

    1. SophieD33

      Google is far more sinister than Facebook. Facebook clearly shows which information it uses, how it is used, and the large limitations it puts on advertisers to protect individuals. It uses age, gender, single/married and city based location. Thats all…..Google? It uses all your data from all your internet use since the beginning. Now, THAT is scary for people to know about me – I don’t know about anyone else. Think about what you’re doing before saying ‘oh I trust Google’…they are FAR worse.

      1. RichardF

        I don’t trust either. 

      2. fredwilson

        black boxes are scary for sure

  3. Dave W Baldwin

    “It begs the question of whom Google built this service for? You or them.”That is the quote everyone needs to remember.  As the user base grows and matures in their handling of device, he/she will see the difference.

  4. EmilSt

    I’ve always liked integrated solutions instead of islands of information. Integrating all your online identities looks like good idea to me. And it can bring a lot of interesting possibilities.I believe it is increasing transparency, and transparency is not a lack of privacy.

  5. Rohan

    The Google+ wave has all but died down. I wonder if it will go down the Wave path..

    1. leigh

      Yep.  I wrote a blog post about how i can’t get passed the circle sort with it – never mind the identity issue Fred brings up here – (http://leighhimel.blogspot….

      1. Rohan

        Haha. That’s a nice one. I didn’t think of it from the ‘labelling’ people point of view. I just found it hard to sort as it’s very hard to compartmentalize these relationships. Either way, I guess I never understood it. That said, I’m traditionally not an early adopter either. I typically represent the 2nd wave.. so maybe I will ‘see’ it a year from now! :)Thanks for sharing Leigh. 🙂

        1. leigh

          lol – i wouldn’t put myself in the early adopter bucket in the traditional Geoffrey Moore sense either but of course that begs the question whether or not the old model is still as relevant as it used to be.  🙂

      2. William Mougayar

        bad link leigh?

      3. leigh

        sorry – bad link -http://leighhimel.blogspot….

      4. Donna Brewington White

        Thanks for sharing this Leigh.  I think a lot of people will agree with you.  However, as I commented on your post, circles are actually one of the things I like most about Google+ — the opportunity to build a structure for future sharing.  While I haven’t fully figured out how I will use Google+ (probably as a friendly professional or quasi-professional network, a place to follow people whose thinking I value, and a place for idea exchange),  I see the circles as dynamic and easy to rearrange since people will already be in manageable groups. One of the problems I have with FB is that it is too much trouble to go back and reassign people to groups, but the range of people I am “friends” with is so broad that it limits what I post there.In my ignorance, I initially planned to use FB as a friendly professional network but as friend requests began to pour in from my personal relationships and social circles, then it quickly became more reflective of those relationships.Now, even if I choose to eventually use G+ for family, the segmentation is already built in to do that.  But first I have to find time to use it period.

        1. leigh

          I just finished doing the brand strategy for my new company and our shared belief/brand promise = everything is personal.  It’s the way i do my work, it’s the media i work in – it’s the relationships i have with clients and my staff.  Part of that is deliberately not hiding who i am (my politics, my family, my strong opinons that may or may not be in alignment with theirs etc.).  Many people don’t do this and have very separate work/life personas.  I’m just not one of them.  So far it seems to be a core part of my success and Google + goes against that (for me)

          1. Donna Brewington White

            I like that — “everything is personal” — or at least I like the idea.  One of the things I appreciate most about social media is the emphasis on transparency and authenticity.  In my early career, I had to work so hard to maintain a “professional image”  — I am so glad that this has become less and less important over the years — that we have become less fragmented as people.However, I do believe that we can compartmentalize our relationships without losing authenticity and transparency or altering our personality.  Most of us are multifaceted and our relationships reflect this without our being disingenuous. This is true of my offline life.  Why shouldn’t it be true of my online life as well?Note: Re-reading your comment, I realize that you are speaking for yourself — not making a broad statement.

          2. leigh

            Don’t disagree that we all compartmentalize to some extent and there is a filter to all things i post (i leave my poetry and personal writings offline for example 🙂 – i’m just suggesting that circles for me goes too far and i’m more concerned with losing emergence of connecting with new people than i am losing the privacy of saying particular things to just ‘some’ people.  

    2. fredwilson

      have you seen any public data on that?i’m “feeling” that too but have seen no data on it

      1. Scobleizer

        You guys need to clean out your circles like I am. There is a very active group. I’m only seeing 30% inactives on the 5,000 I followed, by the way. I’m slowly cleaning those out and the service is rocking and rolling.

        1. fredwilson

          I never really set up any circles. Its too complicated for me. I like simplicity

          1. RichardF

            it is simple I created a circle called “filtered”.  Which becomes my default stream (I wish Google+ would allow me to designate it as such)  I put everyone into that circle until they become noisy to me, at which point I remove them from that circle.

      2. Rohan

        Same here Fred –  ‘feeling’ only. Haven’t seen any data yet. I will update this thread if I do.I ‘feel’ it’s only a matter of time though..

    3. Bryan J Wilson

      I get the same sense, but you have to wonder if Google has enough cachet that a couple significant tweaks make it go viral again. But at this point, it’s simply not a part of most people’s daily online routine.

      1. Rohan

        yup! agree! Not even part of the weekly online routine for many I would guess..

  6. leigh

    Bottom line for me – no one should own my identity but myself.  A British poet patented her own DNA a few years ago and wrote this in her application:””It has taken 30 years of hard labour for me to discover and invent myself, and now I wish to protect my invention from unauthorized exploitation, genetic or otherwise,” she wrote.Truer words, never been spoken.  

    1. Pete Griffiths

      Without wishing to be overly pedantic – she didn’t patent her DNA, she applied for a patent which is very different. And whilst as a poet she may be in some sense unique she is also a cocktail waitress which may well fail the patent threshold by virtue of being ‘non-novel’ and ‘obvious’ to one ordinarily skilled in the art (in this case frequenting casinos).

      1. leigh

        Most of the pple i know in the service industry would blow the average tech CEO out of the water in terms of originality. …Just sayin’ 

        1. Pete Griffiths

          excellent point 🙂 

      2. raycote

        “also a cocktail waitress”the key word is ALSO ! + ALSO + ALSO . . . . . . .

        1. Pete Griffiths

          raycote – I am struggling to understand your point.  I am sure there is one and that I am being obtuse, but perhaps you can help me out here.

          1. Erik Bigelow

            I think he means that her being a cocktail waitress is just an aspect of her identity.  It’s just one of the things that goes into being “her”

          2. Pete Griffiths

            Thanks – Didn’t occur to me my post would be taken seriously.  It was a joke.  (obvious a lame one).

  7. Charlie

    The internet identity system that matters most to me is DNS. It underlies the other identity systems, including any of the ones built by companies. The whole point of it is that you can claim any name you like, as long as it hasn’t already been claimed by someone else.I wish DNS mattered to more people, however. Then it would have more influence in the market than it seems to currently. Since it doesn’t, people will be essentially forced to use identity services which are accountable to their shareholders, like Google+, instead of identity services which are accountable to everyone, like DNS.DNS (and especially DNSSEC, the anti-tampering add-on) is now being threatened by the PROTECT IP act, which essentially lets the US government do exactly what DNSSEC would interpret as tampering.

    1. Arnobie

      I agree with Charlie… Furthermore, IP addresses should be identified by who owned it and ISP should be the main responsible for their IPs. Just big work in handling open access point…

      1. Charlie

        “IP addresses should be identified by who owned it”You might like China then. They’re much farther down that path over there. I prefer allowing anonymity.

    2. fredwilson

      yup. i am worried about the impact of Protect IP and our firm authored a letter to congress that many VCs and entrepreneurs have signed onto

    3. ShanaC

      what happens when more people have dynamic IP address?  

      1. Charlie

        Most people already have dynamic IP addresses. If you don’t specifically request (and most likely pay extra for) a static IP address from your ISP, your IP address will change periodically.What happens is that you trade away some ownership of your identity for a little bit of security/anonymity. It’s harder for attackers to target your computer; by the same token, it’s harder for friends and family to directly contact your computer. So you use centralized services to more easily contact others.

        1. ShanaC

          true, but I also feel like within that context there is a means for a fairly controlled identity – so what if I am not always the same IP address, I’m not the same person either, and it would be nice to have that same fluidtiy that I get from IP address with centralized services.

  8. Vitomir Jevremovic

    Google is not innovating, but copying features others have to fill in the gaps of their own needs.

    1. fredwilson

      same with FBthey have copiedTwitterFoursquareDisqusInstagramQuoraGrouponand probably many more that don’t come to mind right away

      1. Vitomir Jevremovic

        Everybody copies and improves bit by bit. That is how we are evolving so rapidly. question is Google’s underlying intentions while opening new services. I don’t what to sound like hater, but Google’s ability to deliver new cool products is disappointing compared to number of quality people they have on-board.”use this because we are Google”.. and then people don’t use it.. and then they kill it.. good business modeling for sure.

      2. awaldstein

        Facebook is a test case for the broad networks vs niche community discussion.Arguably everyone is ‘there’, including me and useful for one strand of my online self.But what has really took..check-ins, shopping Q & A, flash sales? I’m on Facebook but dedicated to Twitter, 4Square and others for those specific behaviors.

        1. fredwilson

          my girls behave the same way you do so it is certainly not an age or sex thing. i wonder if this is the dominant way people will behave online

          1. Eric Brooke

            I think there is a life stage difference, one being when you move from education to professional life.  Also probably when if you don’t care anymore what others think of you.

          2. ShanaC

            Personality based thing?

          3. awaldstein

            I think so.While the cadence of how different generations use different online nets is clear, I think the core behavioral value of each of these is cross generational.

        2. William Mougayar

          The big social networks shouldn’t overlap with each other over time. Right now, we’re all trying to find our footing. Some things will stick, others won’t. That’s why Google+ felt like being shoe-horned between Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. That’s not a good thing. Google+ must have its own way of attracting us, and not in a duplicative manner to Twitter or Facebook. 

          1. awaldstein

            The plates are still shifting around for sure.I just look for general road signs of direction and unashamedly have to judge behavioral value by what feels right.Right now–curation and a drive towards an interest graph in the form of contextually rich niche communities seems right. And of course the threads, like Disqus that tie it all together and are building the database for tomorrow. I’m investing in that direction.Do note that during the last 48 hours what worked for me was Twitter as language of information. Tumblr as the network of real time visual postcards. And Facebook as an empathetic outpouring from friends and family.

          2. fredwilson

            Those are the big three

          3. RichardF

            The Irene tag on Tumblr today has given me an amazing perspective sitting on the other side of a not so calm pond.

          4. Vitomir Jevremovic

            What feels right is the key differentiation of new services.You could spend 5 minutes on something new and almost know if it sticks or not. How many times have you returned to something you first tried and abandon? amount of effort you need to invest then is judged more as trouble then as a pleasure.Time and crowds are also in the equation, and not to be forgotten. Call them trends.Google+ left me with that feeling of copy-paste. On a second run it left me more scared then hyped. Scared of what it may become.

          5. Donna Brewington White

            Good word, William.BTW, appreciate the new email feature from @eqentia:twitter and how this is set up. Will enjoy even more when I am less slammed.

          6. William Mougayar

            Thanks for sharing your support Donna!

    2. Dennis Buizert

      A lot of businesses do the same, but when google does it, it gets noticed.Or at least that is how I see and feel it. 

  9. Eric Brooke

    G+ for me is a service where I can broadcast things that I really like or dislike. Facebook for me is locked down, its only people I know and would be happy spend an evening with.  Linkedin is 1200 contacts, all people I know and have spent time with, generally a lot of professional contacts. Twitter is mainly knowledge sharing and memory augmentation. I use it a lot during conferences or places where I am learning a lot. My blogs are my thoughtful expressions my rough diamonds which I am still working onLeaving G+ to be my public face, my only issue is my startup (Professional You) uses Google apps and the switching between my startup and my personal accounts is still harder than it should be, thus I don’t always bother with G+But to your point its my really public identity

  10. Robert Thuston

    Why should I care about centralizing my “identity”?  I’m on several social services across the web, and I authorize new services with Google and Facebook and Tumblr (arbitrarily).

  11. Dennis Buizert

    I jumped onto the Google+ when I got an invite. But beside the fact that I had to use my real name (which didn’t bother me as I’m know on a lot of places with my real name) I just stopped using the service. I never log onto Gmail, because of IMAP.I never log onto Google+, because of Twitter and Facebook. Unless those 2 become irrelevant and Google+ has something to show for, I will not switch. So google got what they wanted initially. A list of my friends, connections and some of the things I like and comment on. But thats the same amount of data you can from my Twitter and Facebook. 

  12. aripap

    Seems like Twitter is the only social company to take the right approach — build a communication layer and let people (and companies) do what they please (within legal bounds). Does anyone remember Friendster’s unsuccessful attack on “Fakesters”? Why did they, and now why does Google, think they need to tell people how to properly create identities? 

    1. fredwilson

      i think tumblr does a pretty good job with this too

      1. aripap

        Totally agree. I love that people can create a new Tumblr (blog/identity) for any purpose, like the ones that popped up for hurricane, or even the one making fun of Bloomerg’s Spanish (can’t find it now!).

      2. raycote

        I love tumblr !!!Tweak a few flexibility potholes and it is the paragon of user accessible simplicity.

        1. fredwilson

          yupit really seems to be taking off now

    2. Scobleizer

      Yeah, and my spam levels on Twitter are making that service less and less usable every day. I gotta do a video on how bad it is. 

      1. William Mougayar

        You don’t think Twitter can fix that over time? Just curious. I did notice a small uptick, but your numbers must be higher for sure.

        1. fredwilson

          Of course they can. Now that they are back to building stuff instead of focusing on scaling and reliability I think a lot of necessary stuff will happen soon

          1. William Mougayar

            I agree. We’re starting to see some original innovations in the Twitter homepage (loggedin). It’s becoming almost like a Dashboard of sorts.

      2. fredwilson

        The new search engine does a great job of taking spam out of search results. I don’t think it will be long before we see the same impact on our timeliness. The facebook approach of “most recent” and “top” seems like the way to go to reduce noise

        1. falicon

          the real challenge is how to deal with the at mention spam…that is where Twitter is falling apart at the moment for me…I love that anyone can reach out and get my attention, but I hate that it is getting more and more crowded with key word monitoring and bot at mention spam.If they can figure out the right balance on dealing with that I think they’ll continue to hold a strong part of my own attention…

          1. fredwilson

            i get about one or two @mention spams a day. sometimes a few more. it’s not terrible yet, but i agree with you that filtering them out would be a big help

      3. EtriganDemon

        How in your reasoning does pseudonymity cause spam?And even if spam indeed correlates with the permissiveness of identity management policies- so what? The question is whether the benefits outweigh the cost or not. E-mail is the Internet’s most useful technology (and massively anony/pseudonymous). It is also the Internet’s greatest spam factory. If spam is the price to pay for such utility, then please give me spam.aripap was right. Twitter lets you be whom you want to be. I am ‘Motmaitre’ on Disqus and on Twitter and on my personal blog. I like it that way. My other identities are my business, to be kept private. If Google Plus won’t let me also be ‘Motmaitre’ on their service, then I won’t use it, period. And if they’re fine with people not using their service, then I guess everyone is happy.

  13. Pete Griffiths

    There are real benefits to the user and the publishers in having ‘verified’ identity.  Users can build a ‘personal brand’ and publishers can use verified identity for commercial purpose.  The problem emerges when such a policy is applied in such a way that it leaves no room for anonymity/privacy.  If you believe that social networks play a role in society for the expression of free speech it is hard to see how enforcing verified identity furthers that role.

    1. fredwilson


      1. Robert Holtz

        This reminds me a lot of our conversations about social graphs.  All these social media sites seem to be clamoring to be the ONE SOLITARY authoritative social graph of the universe.Not only is this an obvious land grab on the part of those social nets but ultimately I think they’ve got their model wrong.  You can’t be the “all of the all”.  If you could, we wouldn’t have 5000 TV channels and billions of websites.  And in my view, if you try to be the one solitary graph of the entire cosmos, you can’t possibly get to the depth and granularity of REALLY understanding what makes a person tick at the level where you can actually monetize it.In my opinion, identity is not an uber-notion above all social graphs.  This is all of Fred Wilson’s graphs.  In my opinion, the master uber meta class should be as private as the inside of your wallet at your desktop or on your phone and identity should be different for each graph.  That said, you might re-use an identity from one graph to save time entering redundant data and starting off a new graph.  For example, if some new service that doesn’t even exist yet rolls into existence, I might want to init my new identity with them by reusing my Twitter or Facebook or Google+ or LinkedIn identity but thereafter it should be fully unique to that graph.There are MANY social networks and MMOs that are avatar-based or use private or anonymous identities.  To not allow them is to paint an incomplete picture.  It means there are entire graphs not being generated because mark my words the behavior is going to continue.  It is part of our essential nature to seek out and define privacy.  Otherwise, we’d all live on park benches and wear name tags.  These social networks that envision an all-public future need to take a look at Maslow’s Pyramid.  You don’t get into belonging (or community) without a sense of safety as a baseline.  Online, safety and identity are intertwined.

        1. hedgefundinvest

          Great point.We’re unlinked and not centralized because we wish to be.A single identity is great for information brokers, not so good for a privacy inclined populace.  Europe happens to be a little more avant-garde there.I suspect in the future there will be backlash to all this “centralization” of identity. The internet can be whatever it wants to be. A person, with a bunch of ideas is fine. There are plenty. The internet can also be a bunch of ideas, that create a new entity — contributed by many. Twitter happens to be excellent in this.@hedgefundinvest:twitter 

          1. Robert Holtz

            Very well put and I agree with you about Twitter.  I think that is part of it’s secret sauce.  You can make a Twitter feed for all your different “circles” (to borrow from G+) but you get to have a different identity for each “circle.”  That’s closer to the right model.  The success of Twitter, in my opinion, is more in what they left out than what they put in.The other thing that annoys me about this is they are overlooking the most powerful thing about the web, which is the ability to build pages that are mash-ups of a little of otherwise disparate things based entirely and dynamically on CONTEXT.Even just now, I noticed your Twitter identity at the base of your post and loved that I could push on it, see your Twitter profile and opt to Follow you on THAT social graph because of a chance meeting on AVC.  If everyone tries to be the one and only graph, we may as well remove the address bar from everyone’s browsers and dumb down the entire web.I wager that centralization benefits NO ONE. It is old paradigm thinking and it overlooks what is truly world-altering about the web.  Only by allowing separate graphs and separate identities can we have horizontal and vertical granularity of social data.  They all want to be the only station on the dial. One station will only get one facet of one identity of one community.  The data is shallow compared to the many-to-many potential of an open web.  Interoperability, YES.  Aggregation and Analysis, YES.  Centralization, NO. Google is shooting itself in the foot if they are going to start making all these open tools that are used under many different graphs and identities and suddenly make the world have to wedge all of those touch points into a single non-anonymous identity.  It is totally nuts.  I have the maximum number of POP3 accounts configured in my Gmail plus several aliases.  I have 4 different YouTube channels.  I have about 7 Twitter accounts for my personal, business, and other highly targeted audiences.  I’m not about to throw those out so I can conform to the idea of one identity for the entire web.  For me it is simply unacceptable and shows a fundamental disconnect in understanding how people actually use the Internet.

          2. Mjpolosky

            A single identity doesn’t mean a single persona. You could maintain all of the personas you currently have IF Google allows you to.

          3. Robert Holtz

            Your remark runs contrary to everything I’ve heard or read on the subject. You should read this article:

        2. raycote

          ZOOMING OUT – Well done!”Otherwise, we’d all live on park benches and wear name tags.”Now that’s an image that hits my funny bone!Facebook and Google should run with it. Building out visual master mugshot directories with this motif.

          1. Robert Holtz

            Thx raycote.  Nice of you to say.^^

        3. Douglas Crets

          The reason we have 5,000 channels on TV has little to do with the business proposition and more to do with the idea that people want different things for different times, and for different versions of their own identity.I know that I am a different person after I eat than before I eat. I am changed by successful business deals or poor relationships. Where we turn to on the social graph depends on what we are feeling and the identity we are hiring at the specific time. Would be good to interview you about this for Fast Company or another blog, if you are able. You can contact me at

          1. Robert Holtz

            I agree with you! The graph changes not only person-to-person but also zooming in still further to any given person, the graph is changing moment-to-moment. There is more dynamism than can possibly be encapsulated by a single identity.Additionally, one exposes different facets of themselves to different groups differently. I’m reminded of the Seinfeld episode in which George Costanza worries about the ramifications of “Relationship George” and “Friendship George” colliding. In his words, “A George divided against itself CANNOT stand!”

    2. raycote

      Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse.Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical, minority views . . .Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . .It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society.— 1995 Supreme Court ruling in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission

      1. Pete Griffiths

        Completely agree.   There are many people who have legitimate and important reasons for requiring anonymity.

        1. TQ White II

          Including people with shady pasts who want to reinvent themselves.One of the things that drives me crazy is the number of people that are OK will building out the world so that every crime is punished. We are on our way to slavery.



  14. @NZN

    Let Google employees drivel on about what they are doing with the strategic power and position that their search engine has given them. Taking positions that leverage people’s interests against their long range freedom’s is “freedumb”… and anyone who wants to accept free in exchange for dumb is welcome to do so.As for the intelligent long range structure of your “real identity”… digital infrastructure enables a new Human capability on that front. “Individual Sovereignty” is a force of nature, as documented by all those John Hancock signatories on that Declaration of Independence thingy. The problem is that identity has been mis-structured for a long time, and most people have no idea the power it “should” possess… so they give it away for nothing. Modern society has leveraged that in every regard. That is why you are not a self-possessed asset at birth under Terms of citizenship… you are a possessed asset defined as a social liability with an increasing cost.Google and Facebook and all the others are just replicating the model of modern society. The non-recursive nature of your signatory’s integrity as an instrument of “Individual Sovereignty” and power in the construct of the Constitution is a fatal flaw. No one has ever been what those founders were since they put there only inherent power in play… but thats what it’s going to take to rescue yourself from the inevitability of this sinking ship.Structure yields results people. You are an ID-slave. W2’s are one-off slaves systemically. And our whole system is setup to propagate that fatal flaw. It does not matter how much money you get paid… because in the end… structure yields results. Argue all you want. In the end, you are going to need to:Own Yourself@NZN:twitter 

    1. raycote

      “The non-recursive nature of your signatory’s integrity as an instrument of “Individual Sovereignty” and power in the construct of the Constitution is a fatal flaw. No one has ever been what those founders were since they put there only inherent power in play… but thats what it’s going to take to rescue yourself from the inevitability of this sinking ship.”I don’t quite get what this means. Can you drill down for me?

      1. @NZN

        An IDentity is only as powerful as the source of its sovereignty. If given by You to You and all you choose freely to participate within under defined Terms, it becomes a foundation of constructive power. The only power needed by a ‘John Hancock’ is imbued within the structure of Individual Sovereignty. This is real power with real integrity. As used, it is the only inherent power needed to overthrow kingdoms, or manage them with true systemic integrity.Once used, its structure speaks to its power and integrity… UNLESS… its use is not structured on equal recursive Terms, and all future structures enabled by its original use exist within a system created by this use, but NOT on equal Terms.In such a non-recursive system, the Terms of a Constitutional construct apply to you at birth, as defined by citizenship, but YOU are not the source of your power and integrity. Instead, the Constitution is the source of your power and integrity as a citizen, and your inherent asset value as a socio-economic construct is claimed by default in exchange for the now existing Constitutional Rights that have been made by man for your benefit and protection.Thus, what ‘John Hancock’ was, YOU can never be within the Constitutional construct that was enabled and manufactured by the structure of ‘John Hancock’. The belief that what you get is “better” is a systemic mandate. You have no choice.Therefore… since you have value from the moment of birth and beyond as a socio-economic construct, Individual Sovereignty must by structured within your IDentity as a pre-citizenship event. Otherwise, the asset value that you relinquish by default in exchange for social benefits renders you an ID-slave within the system of your citizenship.Once data went digital, this flaw in our base construct as Individual Human beings within a universal socio-economic system rendered an outcome that is now being replicated by each and every market instance…ie Google, Facebook, Experian, etc. You are a data-slave. Some more so than others.Only by reorganizing the base construct of IDentity to accurately recognize the origin of IDentity can we fix this systemic abuse as it exists today. Unless we do so, Google is right… Facebook is right… and there is no argument other than those that you might bring to your elected representatives in an attempt to “beg” for attention to your concerns… or “pay” for… whichever works better.But, the reality is that You can only cease being an ID-slave by changing the structure of your IDentity on universal Terms. Universally Distributed Privately Owned (UDPO) Terms. Your structure yields your results.

  15. Darren Herman

    Agreed.  Since Google also represents a majority of organic search traffic, publishing to Google+ is key for marketers.  If publishing to Google+ gets you right inside the Google database, then Google+ is immensely powerful as long as Google remains relevant as a search engine.(until DuckDuckGo dethrones them – just joking)

    1. fredwilson

      what does “inside the google database” mean?their organic search index?

      1. Darren Herman

        Yes.  I figure that they might rank O&O properties higher than non because of the fiscal benefits, though that is highly debatable because people will accuse them of being bias.  If Google+ becomes a filtering system, why not inject yourself directly into the filter, rather than have to fight to be aggregated up?

  16. Devon Loffreto

    Heck, I guess you are all lucky to be “friends” with Google. They won’t even let me use Google+I wonder why?

    1. raycote

      Great stuff!Surely in the long run the digital citizenry will wise up to the social and monetary costs inherent in this mass identity theft.Google and Facebook offer onlyIDENTITY SERFDOM – IDENTITY ARBITRAGEThis limits all possible social-organization meme-swarms to a subset of social exchange geometries that serve their corporate commercial advantage.Civil society can only flourish atop a federated distributed identity system further extended by tools that empower free flow social-organization meme-swarms targeting non-commerial, purpose driven, civil exchange geometries.

  17. Gubatron

    It’d be really funny if they started charging for the identity verification.This is something I thought facebook could do, but there’s 2 ways to go about it.You can charge people for administrative fees of checking their identity and you won’t have everybody on the boat for a long time, but you’ll make good money in the process…or you can do identity verification for free and have everybody, then charge third party websites for access to your identity database.If they (Google or Facebook) managed to create an internationally recognized identity out of your account (like passports, but online and in the future why not also in the real world), they could start creating a trend on all the internet where mandatory verified identities on Google or Facebook are necessary to sign up to different services. Going on that route they might make even more money.

  18. gubatron

    Who is in a better position to become an identity verification entity?Facebook which right now validates your identity with your relationships, or Google+?

  19. Erik Bigelow

    The fundamental problem of any identity service like google+ or facebook, as mentioned already, is you don’t own it.The second problem is that while some people are fine with the name they are given when they are born others aren’t, and they should get to choose how they are known.  Do you want to see the latest movie by Thomas Cruise Mapother IV or hear the latest single by Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (Tom Cruise and Lady Gaga just in case you don’t know).  Are you ever going to see those names on Google+ or do they still get to be who they want?  Also Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Banksy, Cher, Tiger Woods, etc…The only way to have an identity online is to own it yourself.  Online that means your own site where you are who you want to be.

  20. Malcolm Bastien

    I think if you think about the question “It begs the question of whom Google built this service for? You or them.” even for a second it’s pretty obvious. Google builds and buys everything for them. Youtube? For them. Gmail? for them. etc… there’s no breaking the trend here with Google+ besides the fact that you’re interacting much closer to other people there.Since there’s the only break in the trend is the use of your real name, Let’s focus on that. We should expect Google’s services to be updated, and all of their new products to be more like Google+ and integrate this real name driven social experience that spans all of their services and all mobile platforms. We should especially expect this from their new products since they seem to be killing off the ones that aren’t align to their strategy of pushing back on Facebook and its “second internet”

  21. Steve Hallock

    It’s a good thing regular people don’t really pay attention to what Eric Schmidt says because he consistently confirms all of their fears in the creepiest way possible.

    1. hypermark

      To your point, I am not sure if Schmidt is intentionally positioned by Google as the “bad guy” to Larry Page’s (and Brin’s) “good guy,” or if they, too, cringe every time he puts Google’s foot in its mouth.

      1. Steve Hallock

        I’m not sure they fully understand”good cop bad cop” if that is their intention

  22. ShanaC

    I’m getting burnt out by the sharing.  Further, I am still not happy with this idea of Idenity  – why can’t I have multiple, not all of which are under my real name…

    1. EtriganDemon

      Agree completely. We already have multiple identities- dumb companies like Google just don’t realise it. The identity I’m using to reply to you is just one identiy I have on the web. I keep them separate because…well, that’s just the way the world works.

      1. ShanaC

        Same same.  Actually, what bothers me the most is the social norms of identity – we’re not given slack that there are multiplicities of self

    2. Douglas Crets

      We are singing the same tune. Happy to interview you with a couple of questions for an article: in touch. 

      1. ShanaC

        sure, will do.

  23. Mark Essel

    Interesting method for acquiring true user identity. I would have expected an open protocol leveraging DNS coming from Goog, but I guess a social service is more likely to get participation

  24. howardlindzon

    we are learning in finance that if you force people to use their real name, they just wont.  it’s the ideas and the timeline…hate to keep repeating it, but it is not rocket science.facebook has won the identity war.  experian won it before.  let em have it, it is a road to hell anyways.  

    1. fredwilson

      Love this comment!!!!!

      1. howardlindzon

        no charge as usual.

        1. Charlie

          Did you guys both have your avatars done by the same artist?

          1. howardlindzon


          2. fredwilson


    2. Doc Searls

      +1 on the futility of forcing people to use their real (or, in Google+ parlance, “common”) names.Identity, however, isn’t a war, and nobody has won it (although trying to fix identity before other things may indeed be a road to hell). Facebook Connect happens to be the popular single-sign-on service at the moment. But it’s terribly flawed, hardly a standard, and good only for Facebook users, which still total far fewer than everybody.The problem to solve is at the user end, but it’s not with yet another centralized commercial service. All of those are trapped inside the calf-cow slave-master system we call client-server, which actually got old around 1998. We’ve been thinking inside that model for so long that we can hardly imagine alternatives.But we can, and some of us are.

  25. howardlindzon

    Bloomberg gets you to use your real name and also 2k per month, now that’s genius and worth disrupting in my opinion….

  26. testtest

    I thought facebook solved the problem of our real world social network geographically spreading out, and routing around anything else that stood in its way. A mechanism of control on the social plain.If that’s been solved what are google doing. Offering us the solution to a problem already solved. That may work in the world of atoms, where number 2 is number 2 (I sometimes buy a Pepsi over a Coke). But not in the world of bits; under the influence of network effects.They may have access to huge levels of attention, but where good ideas spread, bad ideas are expensive.I bet against Google Plus.

  27. WuckNee

    Sounds to me like Google just gets cooler by the minute. Gotta love

  28. did not bother to fake one

    You are correct in saying that Plus was built for Google, not for the user.Now, if using Google Plus is important to you and remaining anonymous is as well, there is no need for it to create conflict. Simply create a Google account with a real-sounding name. Tell the people you know what name you use on Google Plus. Others, whom you don’t know, well, they won’t know it’s you, which is exactly what you want.Google desperately want real names for commercial purposes, so we will give to them the next best thing, real-sounding names. They can’t know and won’t know which is real and which is merely real-sounding, unless they want to require a photo id when you create your account. That will never be commercially viable, and there is no way for them to make sure that you did not Photoshop your id anyway.Here’s to the future newly minted Mary Grubers, Carl Johnsons, and Mark Smiths.

    1. EtriganDemon

      This doesn’t address the issue of people wanting different identities. Carl Johnson may be a Fortune 500 CFO by day, and a right-wing, extremist blogger by night. His blogging may cost him his job if he used his real name. So he blogs (legally but forcefully) under the pseudonym ‘Ayn Rand Atlas’. Everybody is happy.

  29. Keith Teare

    Fred, it is their vulnerability. I know we’ll disagree on what I wrote today on TechCrunch, but it is pertinent to the future of mobile and mobile is a big part of the future of identity.…

    1. fredwilson

      i read it earlier but i didn’t really understand iti think google offers really good cloud based services (mail, docs, calendar, search) and apple doesn’tthe cloud services are what keep me on android

      1. Keith Teare

        Understood. that’s why I thought you wouldn’t agree. The same cloud services that keep you on Android are the ones that keep Scoble’s Mom off it. Think about the steps to share an image on G+.1. Join Google and get a G+ account2. Upload or create a contacts list on Google3. Organize circles4. Buy an Android phone5. Provision it with the same Google account so you can access your contacts6. Install a G+ client7. Take a photo and share it woith a circle using G+This is way too much effort. Compare it to iPhone where you take a picture and share it via email with one of more people from your address book. Instagram versus Flickr is a great example of the rich mobile client/thin cloud versus the thin client and the fat cloud.

        1. fredwilson

          google+ doesn’t even belong on the same list as gmail, gcal, gdocs, gsearch, etcthose are simple services to usemy mom uses some of themshe doesn’t use G+

          1. Keith Teare

            Well, they all sit on a Google Profile, and Contacts list. So I agree re user engagement, but architecturally (which is what I am really talking about) a centralized profile requiring login is common to all. This is not the right identity or contact list architecture. A distributed identity architecture leveraging devices people have in their pocket, is more likely to be trusted and functionally be way better than a centralized one (whether Facebook or Google).i think this exchange might be suffering from being typed instead of spoken. I sense I’m not being as clear as you need me to me. Sorry….

          2. fredwilson

            i totally agree with you about identity. it must be distributed.

  30. Zoli Erdos

    If this is an identity service, we should not be forced into an identity we don’t want. Years ago before Google Apps turned more towards Business, in the good old GAFYD years many of us got our own domain.  The idea was to keep THAT as your identity forever.  Now, if I want to have Google+ , I have to use a account – that’s a huge step back.  Why would I want my identity tied to a generic domain instead of my own?

  31. falicon

    Hey google+ … “I am whatever you say I am. If I wasn’t, then why would I say I am?” – Eminem

  32. Brendch06

    Ridiculous. Pseudonyms are a part of your identity. To ignore this is ignoring a big part of social interaction. You can be daddy to your kids, John to your coworkers and Johnny D to your friends- All equally valid, and all you. Who is Google to say which of those you are allowed to use?The reason Google wants real names is to tie the data they collect on users to actual people in the real world. Any claims to the contrary is just PR speech to obscure the real issue.

  33. phoneybologna

    See also:…Wherein Schmidt dropped this wonderfully transparent quote:”The only way to manage this is true transparency and no anonymity. In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you. We need a [verified] name service for people. Governments will demand it.”Google+ is an identity service.  Schmidt would like it to be a verified identity service, and he’ll continue to lobby the government to demand that users make use of such a service.Thankfully, there are at least two hackers working in a garage right now, and written in sharpie on their whiteboard are three simple words: “Don’t Be Google”.

    1. fredwilson

      hackers in a garage keep the big companies honest

  34. Seth Gold

    To answer your question, I think Google built Google +directly for itself to enter the identity market, but indirectly to fulfill itsmission, “organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible anduseful”. The most valuable commodity is information and there’s nobetter information than identity. Identity is the best way to separate and organize data.  It is only natural for all of theworld’s services and information to be consolidated into 1 entity.  I am not saying that there is no valuein Brick and Mortar, actual human to human conversation etc, but the web has acharacteristic of incredible scale. Think about the European Union, the global Economy, the Ipod, a tribe ofpeople, Walmart, or even multiple VCs entering into a funding round.  Organisms group together in order tospecialize and progress.  Is itreally that impossible to think that Facebook can’t be the 1 stop shop for allservices/communications.  Forexample, making phone calls, registering for college, applying for a mortgage,validating your passport.  1 stopshops make sense; its faster, cheaper, and more efficient.  Facebook is the clear leader in a racethat is light years in distance.  Iam going to have to disagree with you in that people want more social platforms.  They just want more services; servicesthat 1 social platform today can’t provide for whatever reason (scalability,the product itself, $$).  Think ofall the VCs that thought people did not want social networks due to theirexperiences with six degrees, and  The germ of the idea is out there,someone just has to iterate it and make it happen!!

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      @fredwilson:disqus if you step back from the more vs. less social platforms it really comes down to the OS.Over the next 3 years, the users are going to be less pulled by fad and more locked into who provides the service with least effort.In the current period, those that force you to submit data will lose to the competitor offering more comfort.

      1. Seth Gold

        I completely agree, thats why I believe Facebook is not a website.  Its a social opetating system. 

  35. AJ Kohn

    Google+ is absolutely about identity. Why? Because it is vital in supporting both search and advertising.The explosion of digital content has made it increasingly difficult to quickly identify and surface quality content. It’s tough, even for someone with the processing power of Google, to perform document level analysis at this scale.Identity and authorship provide Google with a new way to sort web documents, not by starting at the document level, but by starting at the author level. AuthorRank could be a powerful way to reduce marginal content and scrapers – the issues that so many have been howling about. If interested, I wrote up my thoughts on this about a month ago here: http://www.blindfiveyearold…

    1. Joe McMackin

      Totally agree.  Great point AJ.  It really comes down to getting rid of search spam.  Google wants to only count a real +1 and doesn’t want to have to try and figure out if a 1000 +1s for an article are really a 1000 real people or just 1 person with a 1000 accounts.

      1. AJ Kohn

        Very true. The value of a +1 would be contingent on identity. In fact, a +1 could hold more weight based on the influence and subject matter expertise of the author.So a +1 by Fred Wilson on Venture Funding would carry a lot of weight, while his same +1 on, say, hang gliding might not count for nearly as much.Once you connect identity with authorship (that’s both blogs, comments, Tweets etc.) you can begin to understand the web of people and how each is contributing to its makeup.

    2. gzino

      Absolutely agreed on Google’s motivation.  This seems to imply that Google believes signal to noise (including spam, gaming, etc. in noise) can only be most effectively solved with absolute identity.  That’s significant coming from the company that has more data and as much algorithm expertise as any company.If so, that’s somewhat disheartening to me as an algorithm guy, but believe this reinforces how critical identity will be going forwards.This also again reminds us that G+ is a means to an end for Google – not an end game social network in of itself.

      1. AJ Kohn

        G+ is certainly a means to and end for Google. They don’t need to beat Facebook. Instead, Google simply needs to have their own stream of social data and attach that to an identity that then allows them to map authorship of content throughout the web. In doing so, they join web of people with the web of documents. I still believe in the algorithm but the vast acceleration of web documents and their own ability to digest them (via Caffeine) has provided new challenges. I see the potential of AuthorRank as a way to efficiently allocate their resources. It’s not that Google won’t analyze and process all of the documents, they just might start with and give more importance to those that have positive authorship attributes.

  36. gregorylent

    my identity commodified … the essence of web 2.0 … a very low form of business consciousness that will not survive.

  37. gregorylent

    and the feds at the back door of google’s identity service certainly want real names … 

  38. howardlindzon

    My further thoughts…Identity…the road to hell……

  39. Kevin

    They should buy the domain before someone buys it then

  40. zato

    Job #1 at Google is to “OWN” the “Internet Operating System” in the same sense that Microsoft owned the desktop operating system. Facebook showed Google that there was a part of their strategy that was missing: IDENTITY. GOOGLE+ is about correcting that oversight. 

  41. Notreallyhere

    I hate to be that guy, but that’s not what “Begs the question” means.  I think everyone should know, so here’s a good link:http://grammar.quickanddirt

    1. fredwilson

      which explains this need i posted on jig a few days ago…

  42. Douglas Crets

    Eric Schmidt has been talking about this from day One of the Google+ release. When they launched it, he gave an interview to a bunch of reporters in Sun Valley, Idaho and he told people that this was the main facet of the release. At the time he said that Google+ was meant to be a more realistic use of your identity than Facebook. I don’t buy it, because for one thing, I don’t see how that’s true. I do agree with one of his premises, though, which is that there is no flexibility in how you “friend” people in the social graph, when seen through the Facebook lens. Not everyone is a friend, but friend is your only option in Facebook. I think that in this Sun valley interview he was also pointing out that in the future you would need a flexibility to your identity and a place to bring back all your social graph involvement. So, is google+ the home base of a virtual social reputation game of kick the can?…

    1. fredwilson

      that flexibility comes from using many services, not one servicethat is the failed assumption of Google+

  43. paulvoulas

    Eric has done all this before. He knows it all about identity. Remember he worked at Novell and built Digitalme…@paulvoulas:twitter 

    1. Scott C. Lemon

      It’s great to see that some other see the previous failures of this approach.  I actually worked for Sheridan in NPI, and was one of the creators of digitalMe.  There was a big falling out when the company split around competing ideas – one giant centralized identity repository in the sky vs. a completely open and decentralized solution.At Novell both Eris and Mike pushed for the “we’ll control everything” centralized approach … which obviously failed.  Google+ could be an incredible success if they would only allow for an open decentralized solution.  Allow anyone to set-up a Google+ server, and become an identity authority …That is the future of identity …

  44. Peter Cao

    Google’s Eric Schmidt had involved into crimes which had endangered human lives. Eric Schmidt had threatened my life with the death of Stanford student May Zhou for sake of Sebastiant Thrun during their fight with Stanford  [ ]  and [ ]This case is regarding to people’s lives, and when it regards to people’s lives, there should not be any compromise nor any dubious or obscure points left.

    1. fredwilson

      what does this have to do with Google+?

  45. the build

    I can’t recall what country it was recently but there was a big issue with required identity on social networks. I’m surprised this isn’t coming up regarding Google+ here. Few services on legacy telecom platforms have allowed anonymous users, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see required identity on the internet.Social networks are communications services but unlike traditional communications services they’re widely unregulated. Watch for that to change soon. It’s also worth noting that Google has been said to be working with the government regarding digital identity. The main thing is that the more people and things are attached to the internet, the more governments can block people from things on the internet. The issues coming up relating to identity online are going to need far more careful attention beyond current discussions. Not that anybody is truly anonymous online in the first place, which will become an issue in itself as the internet begins to do the broader things its here to do and people start to realize/understand it’s true capabilities and capacity. The current discussions are likely just the tip of the iceberg of what will ultimately be far deeper issues. This should take place before not after innovation/technologies in this arena.

    1. Douglas Crets

      china. vietnam. burma. Malaysia. Singapore. Many countries in Asia require this.There are two things that need to be considered:Google’s attempts to get back into the good graces of the China officials in charge of communications.Facebook’s attempts at broadening its social networking platform / advertising platform into China.Identity is the new talking point, because nothing gets put on the mahogany desk without that word printed on the manila folder.

    2. fredwilson

      this is the internet, not some legacy telecom platformanonymity and pseudonyms have been accepted, even the norm in some communities, since day onethat is one of many things that makes the internet specialit was built by the people who use it as much as anything

      1. the build

        Yes, but the internet is still a telecommunications platform no less.People should have control over whether or not they want to use their true identity online. If it’s required to join a social network, users should be able to use a pseudonym for their public-facing activities, etc. If it is likely that mandatory identity will become common, then it becomes a question of how that information is protected, what kind of control we have over it, etc.The unfortunate issue about the internet being built by the people is that it’s owned by corporations, who have also foot the bill. Unless people take a more active role in what their rights are online, etc. they will be subject to whatever companies decide for them.

  46. aslevin

    The interest graph is going to be huge.  The value of identity will be great in search, and Google wants to be able to use names to correlate reputation  in the rank algorithm. The big trouble is equating a “real name” as policed by Google with a reputation effect that should juice search. With a search ranking prejudiced toward names blessed by Google as “real”, the content of people with real names that Google’s bureacracy doesn’t recognize, like Violet Blue, would disappear.  The content of many people in regions with naming conventions that Google doesn’t recognize, like people in Hong Kong and Taiwan and Malaysia and India, would disappear. The content of people who cannot speak under their real names, like teachers and doctors and social workers and government employees, would disappear. Having reputation based on the history of a persona is valuable.  By collapsing the value to a so-called “real name” and allowing a kafka-esque bureacracy to determine what a “real name” is, Google actually wouldn’t get what it wants with better search and would commit harm in the world by silencing people who should be heard.

    1. fredwilson

      yupbut i’d like to curate that not have google do it for me

      1. aslevin

        Yes, interest graph info would probably be better for recommendations and ads than for search results.    And would work just as well with stable pseudonyms as with “real names.” As for search results, hiding/downranking results from users with stable pseudonyms would be a very bad thing.

  47. Douglas Crets

    I’d love to have your reaction to the article I wrote in the New York Times about Klout:…I think Klout is trying to build up a solution that would answer the questions of identity on a network, or at least it’s getting close to that kind of platform. 

    1. fredwilson

      klout’s algorithm is a mystery to me tooi don’t understand it and don’t value it

  48. Patrick Parker

    One of my friends was recently ‘Verified’ by G+.  He is a blogger with a modest following, and by no means a big G+ celeb.  I am kind of wondering how they decide which users will be ‘Verified’ first, and what is the verification algorithm that is used to determine identity?I noticed that you are not verified yet Fred.  Neither is Bill Gross, nor Brad Feld, nor are a number of other well known bloggers that I follow.  Chris Brogan is.I often think to look for the check mark next to my name, and wonder when, and why (what threshold gets met), and how I will be ‘Verified’  (what criteria is used)? I don’t really mind the process in this particular social network.  I don’t need or want to be anonymous in the G+ venue. It seems to me that Google already knows enough about most of us to put the pieces together anyway.  It seems that people who want or need to remain anonymous will have to use proxies, and will not be welcome in certain networks.

    1. fredwilson

      i’m not verified on twitter eitherit is a source of pridei don’t want to be verified by anything other than my content and my followers

      1. Patrick Parker

        I can see why you and many others would prefer to not be distinguished by the verified check mark.  As a blogger of some renowned it seems unnecessary for these services to identify you as ‘the real thing’.  I am not well known, but it is pretty easy to google me, and find out most anything that somebody would want to know, so I don’t know if it is necessarily useful for others to see a check mark next to my name either.  My question is more about how G+ decides who and how to verify, and do we have any input as users?  My guess is that they will verify whoever and however they determine best adds value to the network. But does the value of the network in this case correlate with the value to the users?

  49. Alexander Grossman

    The problem and issue is much greater than Google+. The issue is really Google Profiles. Profiles is what has the name issue and it is Profile that is linked to G+, Picasa, Buzz and Reader. It will soon be linked to many more Google services so losing the ability to have control over ones own Profile will mean losing the ability to use a much larger variety of Google services than just G+.For example, your Profiles is linked to your Android device. So, if you purchase apps from Android Market and they suspend your Profile due to the name (for example, they don’t like the fact that you were a child of the 60s and your parents named you Sunflower Rose or you come from a culture where punctuation is part of your name so C’leste Huck is SOL on Google), you lose the ability to use all of the apps purchased under that Profile on your phone. Would make me think twice about using an Android device.Google is also planning on ranking search results based on ties to Profiles and your network. This will both restrict the information you receive as well as bury information by people not blessed with a Google Profile due to their chosen name.When you combine any of this with the huge practical hurdles for using a names policy such as the current Google one, I see a nightmare. The staffing required of a company to handle the customer service issues is huge, and Google has never demonstrated an ability to handle well real time customer interactions. Add in the problems of verification (what constitues proof for a commonly used name) and the legal issues in multiple jurisdictions (e.g. Privacy in the EU, FTC settlement agreement from Google Buzz in the U.S., anti-trust issues elsewhere, etc), and all I see is a train wreck with users paying the price.Google Plus, Android OS and devices, Chrome OS and Google Search are not disparate areas of focus by Google. Google is trying to tie them all together and Profiles, and the question of name and identity, is the key for them. This only makes the issue more, not less, important for us as users.

    1. fredwilson

      exactly. you nailed it alex. this is a big problem for them and for us.

  50. Paul Schejtman

    i wouldnt count the biggest success on the web, Larry Page, out yet.facebook has NOT won yet.

  51. Doc Searls

    You got me thinking. And I came up with one possibility, which I lay out in Circling Around Your Wallet. See what you think.

    1. Scott C. Lemon

      Doc … great post!  I keep looking at the good ideas in Google+, but also agree that they need to open it up more for it to truly succeed.  Google should allow anyone to set-up their own Google+ server and community … like anyone can host a WordPress blog if they want to.IMHO, digital identity will not be solved by technology until a truly distributed solution is created.

    2. fredwilson

      hi docwhere do i go to read that?

      1. markslater

        Fred – i intro you and doc via email – you’ll enjoy the discussion!

  52. Scott C. Lemon

    Google+ will fail as a identity service in the long term … just like Eric failed to create a success when he tried this at Novell.  There, he tried to push the idea of a “billion user directory”, which failed.  I worked in R&D at Novell during this time, and made numerous attempts to communicate the reasons why centralized identity services will always fail.Digital Identity will not be solved as a problem until the emergence of a true distributed digital identity service takes hold.  I do believe that Google+ has some incredible ideas, and has provided a much more realistic model of human relationships.  As they enhance the identity components of Google+ it can only get better … but will not achieve real success until it completely decentralizes.

    1. fredwilson

      it has to be distributed or people won’t trust it

  53. Turki Fahad

    “And the answer to why you need to use your real name in the service is because they need you to” Is it really that hard to let the users opt in / out in regards to showing their real names to whom ever they want? A naive take on the matter (I know) if you wearing your marketing hat.

  54. Guest

    google is kinda looking more and more like microsoft, just copying the best ideas from competitors. Sad. They could’ve done so much with the interest graph which facebook has messed up with phenomenally, but they are going down the same road as facebook and positioning google+ as more or less a direct clone of facebook.

  55. aspblom

    “It begs the question of whom Google built this service for? ” TO BEG THE QUESTION MEANS TO avoid THE QUESTION. I SUSPECT THE WRITER WANTED TO SAY, IT raises THE QUESTION.

  56. Julien Chabe

    DON’T BE EVIL vs DON’T BE FOOLEDEric has always been extreme and provocative in the way he says things. This is more of a marketing strategy than his own personality.Google already knows why they need your real name but of course they won’t tell you. Google need your identity because they will link these products (especially Google+) to your use of Google’s payment systems such as Checkout or any NFC payment.They have no interest to ask you directly : Hey, may i mix your Google+ data with your Checkout data ? You know the one you have on Google+ with your circle of friends including your family and the one you have at merchants when you buy what you like.Any service should be clearly explained and given the importance of the data we provide to Google, they should clearly tell us what is being done with our data.The problem with Google is not that they don’t want dogs on Google+ but rather that they see us as pigeons (french experssion for “don’t be fooled”.Julien Chabe (my real name)

  57. Vitomir Jevremovic

    Anonymity is key to experimentation with one selves identity. These experiments can open ones inhibitions and expand communication skills. Virtuality of our identity could be our inner search for meaning, as we are free to become whatever we choose, if we dare. Should be embraced, not put down.

  58. Donna Brewington White

  59. Peter_Cao

    Google’s Eric Schmidt along with a Stanford Computer Science professor Sebastian Thrun had involved into crimes which had endangered human lives. Schmidt and Thrun’s side had murdered Stanford student May Zhou and they had plotted a murder on me as well,  during their fight with Stanford to threaten me and to terrorize Stanford people. Here are the latest development about May Zhou’s case[ ]  Schmidt and Thrun had not paid for their crimes so far. But this case is regarding to people’s lives, and when it regards to people’s lives, there should not be any compromise nor any dubious or obscure points left. more details [ ]Here is the latest discussion with Thrun’s side about Eric Schmidt and Sebastian Thrun’s roles in Stanford student May Zhou’s case. [ ] in which one could clearly tell there are serious problems left in these crime cases. They need to pay for their crimes.

  60. Edward Boyhan

    I think Google is being fairly upfront about what they’re about with G+.  It’s their sandbox; their rules.  If you don’t like them, no one says you have to play.  Twitter and Facebook are still out there.I don’t think at the end of the day that they want to create a competitor to FB or Twitter, rather they want to capture info to be used in their larger search and marketing endeavors; and they’re being pretty clear about that.For every reason that justifies using a pseudonym, there is probably as many “bad” uses of them that can actually do harm.  Google apparently wants to create a pseudonym free environment; that’s their privilege.  If the market decides that that is not desirable, then G+ will fail.  Google is probably betting that there is a market for a relatively identity transparent environment, and that it is precisely those users it wants to interact with.

  61. awaldstein

    @twitter-24379211:disqusTo your point Vitomir about ‘feeling right’ as the key to judging the value of new platforms.I firmly believe that behaviors online are evolving and expanding and that new platforms are places to express those behaviors. Kind of a social behavior analog to what Alexander was talking about for architecture in a Timeless Way of Building.That being said, you need to be careful. 4Square at the beginning was a process of populating the data so implicit expressions amongst others could be figured out. I believed it was coming but it took time. And now, they have it nailed in my opinion.



  63. vruz

    I think it’s a damn stupid strategy, it only encourages a different kind of cheating.Hundreds know me on the internet by my nickname, few can remember my actual full name.The “identity service” thing is a thinly veiled lie, and the actual purpose is obscure at best.

    1. fredwilson

      vruz rules!

      1. vruz

        Also, “Fred” is not your real name. tsk… tsk…:-)

        1. fredwilson


          1. vruz

            Yep. Are Google banning you from G+ yet?

          2. fredwilson

            i wish

  64. jonas prabasi

    creating an identity service at the scale that Google is capable of, would be quite an achievement. Creating communities with some sort of verified identity (not real names!) is a good business model; there would be a lot of benefits to both the participants and businesses. Businesses could offer services and discounts against these identities. One can imagine people or entities obtaining various certifications and adding them to their G+ accounts (“Joe Shmo owns a home in CA”, “Joe Shmo is certified for Math Teaching”).Unfortunately, Google has a long history of taking good ideas and mangling them pretty badly. I have worked in identity for a long time, and I have yet to meet anyone at Google with whom one can have an adult conversation on the topic. They do have a lot of smart people, and enough money to fund this for umpteen years, so ultimately they might get to the right place. And, yes, though Facebook is the first-mover in this space, I think there are a lot of possibilities for challengers and innovators who extend and improve their model.

  65. inm

    I don’t understand why Google is so hung up on people using their real names: a stable and consistently used pseudonym is JUST AS GOOD for uniquely identifying accounts for advertising purposes. It might even be better because people could feel more comfortable about exploring and commenting on stuff online that they wouldn’t feel comfortable with if it had their real name attached. Facebook has such a ridiculous lead right now that it doesn’t make sense for Google to be ticking off some of their core supporters in this manner. Businesses have a core ecosystem of companies listed at http://buyfacebookfansrevie… and other sites to promote their Facebook pages and businesses are even promoting their Facebook URL on their print and TV advertising. NOTHING that Google+ has got going for business even comes close to approaching this yet. Furthermore, everybody on Facebook already has all of their photos and connections on there and normal people aren’t going to be giving it up anytime soon. I wish that Google was running this G+ thing a bit better because they’re so close to influencing the market bigtime with G+, but their insistence on real names and other dumb policies are harming them amongst their biggest market. People may be ambivalent about Facebook, but not to the extent that the mass market is going to close shop and migrate to G+ anytime soon. It’s a shame because their should be a lot better competition in this super-important niche.

  66. Ron Pemberton

    Of course, they built it for themselves; it’s a company for profit. They don’t do anything for fun, or simply out of the kindness of their heart.

    1. fredwilson

      Of course not. But the best products are built for users not some corporate objective

  67. fredwilson

    well 70% of accounts in the average service are inactive…

  68. sbmiller5

    If I used Facebook on any sort of regular basis, that usage would’ve switched to Google+ , but I don’t use either.

  69. Dave Pinsen

    A lot of this depends on the person and the platform though. You hadn’t posted on Plus in weeks, but you post more frequently on Twitter (as I do). But for others, Twitter is to them what Plus is to you. An example from yesterday: to see if my gym was open, given the hurricane on its way, I went to the gym’s website, and clicked on the Twitter icon there, figuring they might have used Twitter to post an update about their status. The gym’s last tweet was in November of 2010.