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Your Digital Calling Card: About.me

Carte de visite About.me is a new web service that tries to cope with the dispersal of modern web services.  Starting from the premise that many of us have lots of different kinds of content online (ranging from blogs to photos to the various social media), About.me aggregates all your various services into one easy-to-find location.

You might think of About.me as a cross between a business card and a carte de visite: The site allows you to upload an image (either a big one or an avatar) and to manipulate the colors and fonts, and to write a biography. This is all done directly in the browser, so you can see the results of your color choices immediately, or drag-and-drop the text box to a new location.

You can also add links to a variety of services: Flickr, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress, and Blogger are all supported directly, as is just about anything with an RSS feed.  When visitors click on these links, they can see your content without leaving your About.me page, or they can go visit your other site.

Embedding your various web services in your About.me profile implies a willingness to make that information public. If, however, you keep your Twitter stream closed, or constrain who can see certain information about your Facebook profile, then you won’t want to embed them here.  You can still link to those accounts, though, for readers who are interested.

Of course, it is possible to do all of this on your own home page, or in the sidebar of your blog. But it might be convenient to abstract away the function, “here’s a quick look at who I am online.”  The About.me folks describe their service as a “digital splash screen,” designed to introduce people to you quickly, before they decide whether and in what manner to engage with your content.  It’s also a great way to shrink your e-mail signature: instead of listing a bunch of links in your .sig, you can just include the one link to your About.me profile.

About.me makes it convenient and easy to dynamically aggregate your blog posts, status updates, photos, and more, and to control the layout of your digital calling card without a great deal of fuss.  (Now, even though it’s 2010, browsers still differ a little: while my profile looks the same in Firefox and Safari, the spacing is a bit off in MobileSafari, the brower for the iPad and iPhone.)

About.me is still in closed beta, but you can reserve your username (and get added to the invite list) now.

Image is by Flickr user Hammiam / Creative Commons licensed

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