Facebook has announced that they are about to release vanity URLs.

What most people don’t realize is that this move, while interesting, is not really about vanity URLs at all – it’s actually about addressable identity.

One of Twitter’s key advantages in the race for dominance over internet identity is their growing namespace of what I call Addressable Identities.

What are they I hear you ask? An example of an Addressable Identity is being able to write ‘@chrissaad‘ and have the system and users understand that it is a direct and concrete reference to me. This form of addressing is particularly interesting because it is easy to write in a sentence or micro-blog.

With Vanity URLs, Facebook will encourage users to specify a tidy/tiny/compact identity identifier by which friends/followers/others can reference/point to each other. This is a big step towards keeping up with Twitter as one of the web’s only providers of modern addressable identities (email is an old, less compact version of this).

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds and how we consolidate these namespaces when using 3rd party services.

It might ultimately have to end up like good old email:

chrissaad@twitter.com, chrissaad@facebook.com etc.

Ideally though, we should be able to use our own/personal email address and have it resolve to an OpenID for true, federated and open addressable identity.

That, however, is still some way away.

This TimeOnline story about Twitter is clearly linkbait. But dammit, I can’t resist.

Here are some of the quotes from some clinical psychologist dude by the name of Oliver James and a Cognitive Neuropsychologist David Lewis. Oliver and David clearly have no idea what they are talking about and should quit their day job.

The clinical psychologist Oliver James has his reservations. “Twittering stems from a lack of identity. It’s a constant update of who you are, what you are, where you are. Nobody would Twitter if they had a strong sense of identity.”

“We are the most narcissistic age ever,” agrees Dr David Lewis, a cognitive neuropsychologist and director of research based at the University of Sussex. “Using Twitter suggests a level of insecurity whereby, unless people recognise you, you cease to exist. It may stave off insecurity in the short term, but it won’t cure it.”

Are these people for real? A lack of identity?

Twitter is simply the most recent tool by which we perform an age old, very human, very healthy behavior. Connection and Communication.

Connecting and Communicating is the very essence of identity. It is the method by which we test, refine, express, learn and declare our identities. It is everything.

Twitter is two friends chatting all day while they work. It is a group of friends sitting around a camp fire. It is a group of colleges learning from each other. It is the world expressing its collective identity to each other.

If it is narcissism to express yourself and tune into the expressions of your family, friends and peers then we are all narcissists.

Twitter is a return to story telling that was sublimated by the invention of mass media. It is the purest most durable expression of personal media to come out of the Web 2.0 bandwagon.

We’ve all heard these knee-jerk reactions before at the advent of the Telephone, The Internet and Blogging. Each time we find a new, easier ways to communicate, out of touch people need to question why human beings need to be so connected.

These crack pots who have not experienced these tools for themselves should do a little more research. Maybe Andy Pemberton, the author of this article, should have spent a few more days learning about and trying the tool he admits to have just discovered before passing judgment on it, lest someone confuse his self-expression (i.e. his ‘journalism’) as ill-informed filler.

I’ve written more about this on my book outline.

I also spoke about it in my interview for the ‘Life In Perpetual Beta’ documentary.

I appologize for the tone of this post, but when ‘professionals’ seem to make such clearly absurd statements it drives me a little crazy.