A few years ago, I was in China. A young Chinese girl started talking to me on the street (this was in broad daylight; her interest was entirely innocent). After a few minutes of conversation, she said “do you want my email address?” I said “sure”, and she told me it was “somename030”. This confused me. “somename030 at where?”, I asked. But she genuinely didn’t understand the question.
Even now, I don’t know what she meant – but presumably there was one particularly popular email service in China that “everyone” used, such that in her circles, the culture was to not bother specifying the domain name.
What sort of lock-in does a provider of a service have, when the use of their service, rather than that of a rival, is assumed by everyone who is swapping identifiers? And is that a good thing?
So why is it that people are starting to just say “I’m @person”, without noting that it’s a Twitter name? Other services, such as identi.ca, use similar @names – but if we let Twitter own the namespace for personal identity in this way, I think there’s a risk we’ll end up reinforcing the network effects and perpetuating an unhelpful and un-open market dominance by a single provider. Which, IMO, is bad whoever that provider is.
So when you tell people who you are, please specify the service you are using :-)