Your name is an integral part of your identity. It is a tag of sorts that people use to identify you in various contexts. JanRain, an organisation built around the OpenID microformat, has teamed up with FreeYourID.com to provide an interesting service based on OpenID. The idea is to create an individualised online presence and to help you manage your identity online. There are some similarities to ClaimID (another service making use of the OpenID microformat) in that ClaimID also serves to help you assert your identity online. The FreeYourID.com project seems to place a little more emphasis on your online presence through a personal domain in the .name namespace. It also seems to be limited to one site so you will have to come up with some sort of aggregator site of your own if you have a distributed presence online. I think I prefer ClaimID mainly for this reason because ClaimID allows you to add links to the many manifestations of your online presence to the aggregator page that is your ClaimID page.
As an aside, the FreeYourID.com service reminds me of a service that was pretty big about a decade ago called Bigfoot. Bigfoot is still around but in the 1990s it was basically a similar service. If you signed up with Bigfoot you got an email address that you could point to whatever your actual email address was. I don’t remember if there was a dedicated web address as well but the principle is similar to what FreeYourID.com is doing except FreeYourID.com is based on OpenID and uses your name at a .name address.
When you sign up with FreeYourID.com you are given a number of options for a .name web address. You also receive a personalised email address to go with that domain. The web address can be pointed at the web site of your choice (presumably the one that best describes or encapsulates you online) and, hey presto, there is your online identity.
Sam Sethi at Vecosys published a post about this service and signed up with FreeYourID.com:
So I have just signed up at FreeYourID.com and entered my name – Sam Sethi. I was then presented with a series of options like sam.sethi.name or sethi.sam.name. I then got an email address of email@example.com
Best of all, I can now point my personal identity page anywhere I want. If you have a blog, you can point your new .name at that and have it redirect there. I have pointed www.sam.sethi.name at www.vecosys.com. Try it.
Your Open ID: sam.sethi.name
Your Personal website: www.sam.sethi.name
The service is available with a free 90 day trial after which it will cost $10.95 per year.