Identity on the internet has always been tied to communication. In the early days, an email address was an individual’s entire presence on the web. People sought out the best domains for aliases, the more unique the better. An email address defined your individuality. A person was synonymous with how they could be contacted.
Accounts were the natural progression to this, and for a while this system worked well. As people’s use of the internet progressed, the limitations of representing identity with accounts started to become apparent.
An individual could easily and cheaply change their email address and effectively become an entirely new individual in the eyes of the web. Mass email providers emerged, Hotmail and Gmail accounts became commonplace, and identity needed to evolve.
Email did not have enough ‘gravity’. A mechanism was needed that people were reluctant to lose. Something individuals had cultivated and cherished. Social networks helped fill this void. People invested their time linking with friends and family, uploading pictures of their lives. Social networks had ‘gravity’.
This put the average internet user needing identity to evolve. Numerous accounts with different sites across the web and multiple social networks each servicing a specific niche was complex and hard to manage.