Om reported this a few days ago and I have been meaning to touch on it, because I think it's very, very important.
Mozilla is contemplating offering syncing services, which would allow profile data to be synced between various computers; third parties eventually will be given some kind of access to this information as well. Typically such syncing services would be the preserve of Google, Yahoo or Microsoft. Among the services Beard mentions are:
- provide a basic set of optional Mozilla-hosted online services
- ensure that it is easy for people to set up their own services with freely available open standards-based tools
- provide users with the ability to fully control and customize their online experience, including whether and how their data should be shared with their family, their friends, and third-parties
- respect individual privacy (e.g. client-side encryption by default with the ability to delegate access rights)
- leverage existing open standards and propose new ones as needed
- build a extensible architecture like Firefox
The meme that's been around for a while, "the internet is the social network", makes sense. After all, if it's the profile information that provides the pivot for the successful social networks, it's trivial for people to publish that information themselves (think of a broader OpenID). Open Social and Grou.ps are steps in this direction, as well.
However, I think the browser is a natural platform for users to manage this information. Wİth extentions, I am doing this everyday in some areas such as managing my bookmarks (via del.icio.us).
Firefox's moves in this area will be interesting to watch.