Fast Company

Setting You Free with Less Transparency

In the real world, most of us wear different faces for the different circles in which we interact. We have our “work” face, our “friend” face, our “relationship” face, and our “family” face. But in the transparent world of online profiles, we are limited to just one identity. Sure, some of us may use MySpace for friends and LinkedIn for business, but when someone Googles us they see them all – and by now we’ve all heard the stories about people getting fired for risqué vacation pictures posted online. Since we’ve lost the ability to wear the right face for the right crowd, does this mean we have to censor our own profiles and only post safe and sterile content? If we’ve reached the point where anything not G-rated puts us at risk for negative repercussions, then what’s the point of using the Internet to share at all?

Now, a Hawaii based startup called Chi.mp is working on a system that will give you complete control over your online identity. Chi.mp, which launches its beta September 1st, lets the profile owner decide on an individual basis who gets to see what. Imagine every picture, every document, and every piece of data on your profile being divided up into little lock boxes. When someone becomes your contact on Chi.mp, you can decide if they get to see your drunken vacation pictures or just your resume, and everything else in between. By giving us total control over who gets to access what, we will once again have the freedom to post personal items to share with friends and family without worrying about embarrassment.

While Chi.mp’s most appealing feature might be its ability to manage access to our information, ironically it is built to be an open network. Unlike current social networks like Facebook, which only allow you to interact with other people who have joined, Chi.mp lets you invite and interact with anybody while still letting you control what part of your profile they can see. Without getting into the technical details, which I can’t begin to understand, Chi.mp sets up each user with their own free unique web page that has a .mp domain extension. Using this page as the base of an aggregation and management platform, Chi.mp helps you build a profile page that is both accessible to the entire online world, while still giving you the power to limit access as you see fit. In that respect, the Chi.mp world is a lot like the real world where we can talk to anybody we want to, but we still get to decide which face we want to wear.

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1 Comments

  • Brandon Muth

    In general, I like the idea a lot. Facebook has done a decent job (much better than MySpace) for allowing you to control who sees what, but it's still lacking. I think it will all come down to the execution. If it is simple and doesn't cause more social network fatigue then I think it has a chance to succeed. But, as with all things social networking related, I wonder...will we ever get tired of all the advertising bombardments, activity notifications and app invites? I know I am starting to burn out on some of this stuff and I notice that I'm refreshed when I leave it off for, say, a weekend away. Just my two cents...