As the number of sites we all use grows, our personal profile information is increasingly scattered across the web. If you make a connection with people on one site, it’s often hard to quickly find out if they use any of the other sites you use, too. Fortunately, a nifty Firefox add-on called Identify makes it easy to access all of a person’s available profiles just by hitting Alt-I on any of his or her publicly accessible profile pages (a Twitter profile page, blog, Flickr stream, Friendfeed page, Digg bio, etc).
This add-on tackles the same problem addressed by web app GizaPage (covered by Scott last week), but goes about it in a different way. GizaPage only works when the person you’re looking for has set up a GizaPages account, while Identify should, in theory, work for anyone.
As an example, here’s Identify on my Twitter homepage:
Identify’s not perfect; it’s only as good as Google’s Social Graph API, which is where Identify gets its data from. For a few people I tested, the Social Graph API hadn’t linked up all of their profiles so the results were incomplete, and sometimes it mistakenly links the profiles from closely connected people. (For example, James Kendrick’s Technorati profile gets linked to Kevin C. Tofel.) It tends to work best with people who diligently fill out their profiles. However, for viewing a quick snapshot of anyone’s online existence that’s much faster than using Google, it’s a useful extension.
One possible complaint about Identify is that it raises privacy concerns. However, all of the information is publicly accessible, and it returns no more data than could be found via a few well-crafted Google searches: It just reduces the amount of time it takes to do so.
Identify is an experimental add-on — which means it hasn’t been tested by Mozilla — that requires Firefox 1.5 – 3.0. (Unfortunately, it hasn’t yet been updated for Firefox 3.5 beta 4.)
Share you favorite lesser-known Firefox add-ons in the comments.