Just as a follow up to my previous post. Came across some very interesting projects:
A locally installable intelligent storage server with software to handle sharing your documents, music, and other media with others. Imagine Google's suite of services and more (email, photo sharing, document editing, calendars, music streaming, remote file access) but you can choose how the software runs and how the data is stored and shared with others. I'm still a little fuzzy on how the notion of "identity" and privacy would work with a system like this, but it's very interesting as a local solution.
This project aims to give users the right and freedom to choose where their data is stored when used by SaaS/cloud apps. Right now companies that run apps force you to store data with them. For instance, if this project succeeds you could still use Gmail's interface but choose between hosting your data on their servers, or specify your own.
Columbia law professor's Eben Moglen's project. The goal is to decentralize the net by creating small, low energy, portable plug in servers that anybody can install anywhere that encrypts all incoming/outgoing web traffic. The long term vision hints at removing the power of client/server architecture of the web and replacing it with a peer-to-peer internet. His ideas also inspired 4 kids who went and started Diaspora.