FOAF and Public identity networks: The chance for a big bang disruptive technology wow

Out on the bleeding edge, the technorati are deep into FOAF, ASN (Augmented Social Networks), and all sorts of ways for people to recognize one another (dogs just sniff the piss, why can’t we?)
I was talking to Frank Paynter for the first time yesterday–we agreed to do a call since we’d been reading one another’s blogs, etc.–and he said something that caught my attention, which was basically, “How come some people are still so uptight about putting their information out in public on the Internet when it’s so easy now to get a good sense of who the person is before you agree to talk to them?”
(Frank, if I misquoted you, sorry…let me know.)
Back in the early 90s, when not everyone had email and used news-groups, etc. there was this wonderful camaraderie with other people online, kind of like on The Well and MetaNet, because the size of the populace was small enough to feel somewhat personal, even if it was mostly an illusion.
Then came the era when email exploded and everyone wanted to send a message to Bill Gates, mostly because they could.
Now we’re inching into the space where web hipsters have digital identify systems in the form of home pages, blogs and the FOAF and other docs to help signal who they are (what their piss smells like).
But it ain’t there for the ordinary folks yet, and I wonder what a more average user, not a super-user would want from an identify-based tool, and to what extent such a person would see the value.
One exciting potential application of FOAF is that it could link everyone who participates into one virtual interactive community. Another is that many of us become part of a web–or mesh–of experts, our identifies signaling distinctive competencies.
Given that two of the most compelling impulses that lead people online are to get answers to questions and to connect to other people, this is pretty heady stuff.
What if Google did what Amazon did and allowed you to set up a page on the service about yourself, with an RSS feed of posts you showed up in and an FOAF identify?
And what if that Google
page was your log in to Google, where you could also save searches and chose to make some of them public to show others what you were looking for, and that page linked with and integrated with your blog and your email system because everything bit of data was just an object treated as a type of message or article post, relating to your identify and your actions.
I think that would kill AOL, Yahoo, and everyone else right there. Bang! Goodbye, portals, you were just dealt a death-defying blow from a (new) disruptive technology.
Of course, FOAF and identify networks are far from this point, and the people talking about them seem to be more like individuals thank companies(this is a good thing). But the day could come when someone big with lots of subscribers adopts FOAF to broaden the scope of their interaction with their subscribers, and that day could be HUGE.