Let me start off by saying, I’m a huge fan of Christina Cacippo and Fred Wilson. They both take the idea of social media, web services, and technology to a new, valuable level. It was their posts on online identity that helped form this blog.

The actual definition of online identity can vary based on who you are asking. In my opinion online identity surrounds everything you do, say, approve, and share on the social web. It varies based on what social services you are using (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc) and whether you are actually being authentic.

Christina pushed me to Ev Williams blog post about online identity in which he describes the five pieces of online identity – authentication, representation, personalization, communication, and reputation. Simply put, you have to authenticate the “representation” of your personality in the online environment. Think about the Facebook and Twitter logins in order to verify an application for use.

The problem? There are multiple social networks in which we place our “identity.” And as Fred stated in his post, Identity, Authentication, and Provisioning Them Online:

These authentication services provide some notion of identity as well. But only your identity in their service. Not your entire identity.

Fred goes on to explain the appeal of OpenID which has yet to make a “real” impact. I do believe in the concept of a universal authentication layer for all networks but OpenID has yet to fulfill my expectations.

The truth is that we are fragmented as an society (both online and offline). The more services we join, the more our information is stretched, pulled, and spread. We want more web services to ease our desire for more content, more checkins, and more benefit to our social lives. On top of that, we also want more personalized content deliver via search engines and social networks.

The more we join… the more we fragment our identity.  Should the big boys play nice and create a universal authentication layer? Yes but I doubt it will happen. The value of data to Facebook and Google far exceeds their ability to “play nice.”

I believe that Google+ is going that route. The only problem? Almost seven years of my life is built directly into Facebook. My identity is fragmented but it is also valuable as different sites consume, prioritize and build data sets on my online identity.

This is a two way street that is about to become a one-way traffic accident. Users are going to demand more personalized and universal experiences online and it is up to the big boys wto supply the tools for the demand.

What do you think? Does it matter that we are fragmented? Do we even care?