An interesting new site on the interwebs aims to simplify and centralize your online life by giving you more control over your online identity. Fresh out of private beta, Chi.mp is now open to the public and will enable users to create their own domain and Web site to aggregate all of their content from social networks and media sites they visit.
With Chi.mp, users are in control of their own portals—the company says that its business model is about "ownership versus membership."
Here's how it works: Chi.mp membership gets you a free loan of a web domain ending with ".mp"(from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, USA) and that domain is customized to enable Chi.mp's system to aggregate and republish your various online activities.
"Social networks [...] have control over your content and contacts because your information is trapped in their systems. With chi.mp, you own everything you put on your chi.mp site—your domain, your content, your contacts—everything. With chi.mp, you own your identity.", touts the sites welcome page.
With a Chi.mp profile, not only can you store your various social networking activities, but you can also manage email contacts and photos as well. And there's the ability to create a number of "personas" and then choose which contacts, from friends to business colleagues, get to interact with which online version of you. In its current incarnation, Chi.mp allows you to add data from Yahoo, Hotmail, or Gmail, publish status messages to Facebook, grab contacts and photos from Flickr, tweets and contacts from Twitter and import RSS feeds. The service also supports the OpenID framework, giving you one login that you can use on any site that supports the protocol—a definite bonus.
It all sounds very promising. But how useful is it? Currently it seems most handy as the "ultimate little black book," a cloud-based aggregator for all of your contacts from a host of online systems. It's obviously brand new, so in terms of actual transmit-and-receive interactivity with your social networking sites, email, IMs, and so on, it's functionality is pretty limited. Plus OpenID, while being a fabulous idea, isn't supported by many of the big names in online socializing yet (like Facebook for instance). But if Chi.mp thrives, it's easy to imagine it becoming more powerful in terms of connecting to Facebook, MySpace, Gmail and acting as a one-stop portal for them—saving you the bother of logging in to each one just to change your status or upload a photo. If and when Chi.mp evolves into that fully-connected service, it'll be a powerful tool to prevent you from getting social networking burnout.