Part 3 is a natural follow-up to the two previous posts in this series. As soon as you join more than two or three online networking, bookmarking, cataloging, photo-sharing, or scheduling services, you’re guaranteed to begin feeling oppressed by the need to manage them all while simultaneously keeping an eye on your eBay auction bids and your favorite political candidate and, oh yeah, your kids.
Be selective. Choose judiciously which online services you want to maintain. There’s nothing wrong with ruthlessly discarding those that offer no return on your investment of time. Having too many online identities to keep up with is the equivalent of… Well, let’s just say some of us will be secretly referring to you as promiscuous rather than congenial.
A couple of years ago, enterprising software engineers identified the emerging market for personalized start pages or personal information managers. There are now plenty to choose from—probably twice the number listed below.
Start pages, some of which are compatible with mobile devices, are personalized by you. They can display modules such as calendars, RSS feed readers, email, weather reports, bookmarks, music players, stock quotes, and much more. Although somewhat difficult to describe, seeing is believing:
iGoogle Windows Live PeopleAggregator Pageflakes Eskobo Goowy and yourminis AOL MyBenefits Toolbar Chandler
Another aspect of managing your online identities is remembering your various user names and passwords. OpenID is a free service that centralizes your login for any online service that is OpenID-enabled. Critics charge that OpenID is a prime target for identity theft, but it was actually created to deter spammers.
MyLifeBrand (beta), Postling [updated on July 17, 2010], and Profilactic are examples of online community aggregators designed to allow you to access all of your social networking sites without logging in to each one individually.
I can’t personally recommend any of these services, because my start page is Google News, my browser’s toolbars are customized to the hilt, and I’ve managed to find order in my own chaos. If you decide to try one, please stop back and let me know what you think of it.