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I’ve been following OpenID for many years. It seems to finally be breaking out in the area of federated ID management.
What problem does it solve? Well just ask yourself how many ID’s and passwords you have. It’s a pain. How many have you forgotten? Are there more forgotten ones than there are active ones? (For me the answer is a big yes even though I do try to stick with a limited variety of them.)
OpenID attempts to create a secure space to manage your identity while protecting the rights of others. You can use your OpenID on any one of a growing number of sites (nearly ten-thousand) which support OpenID. Over the past few months some of the majors have signed on. I think this is the equivalent of the time when the browser wars ended and everyone adopted a more or less common standard. Here are a few:
On Feb. 7th the OpenID Foundation announced that Google, IBM, Microsoft, VeriSign, and Yahoo! had joined the board. “The OpenID Foundation was formed in early 2006 by seven community members with the goal of helping promote, protect and enabling the OpenID technologies and community. [This] announcement marks a milestone in the maturity and impact that the OpenID community has had. While the OpenID Foundation serves a stewardship role around the community’s intellectual property, the Foundation’s board itself does not make any decisions about the specifications the community is collaboratively building.
Last year, OpenID grew by leaps and bounds both as a technology and as a community. At the beginning of 2006, there were fewer than 20-million OpenID enabled URLs and less than 500 websites where they could be used. Today there are over a quarter of a billion OpenIDs and well over 10,000 websites to accept them. OpenID has grown to be implemented by major open source projects such as Drupal, cornerstone Web 2.0 services such as those by 37signals and Six Apart, as well as a mix of large companies including as Apple, Google, and Yahoo!. Today is about truly recognizing the accomplishments of the entire OpenID community which has certainly grown beyond the small grassroots community where it started in late 2005.
So what does this really mean? In the past few months respected bloggers, analysts, and marketers have been writing about how OpenID needs to start being explained clearly, so that it can actually become a mainstream technology. We started this process late last year by cleaning up the website, making it far more accessible and useful to a wider range of people. At OpenID DevCamp there was a focus on OpenID usability and the implementation of Yahoo! OpenID Provider clearly shows that a lot of thought went into making it clear and comprehensible to those who aren’t geeks.
One of the other accomplishments of the Foundation last year was working with AOL, Microsoft, VeriSign, Sun, Symantec, and Yahoo! to develop an intellectual property rights policy and process for technical OpenID specification work which was finalized in December. While all of these community accomplishments have been great, each was made possible by the community’s willingness to include the resources of companies alongside the efforts of individual contributors.
By bringing on these companies and their resources, the OpenID Foundation will now be able to better serve the needs of the entire OpenID community. In 2008, we can expect to see a larger focus on making OpenID even more accessible to a mainstream audience, the development of a World-wide trademark usage policy (much like the Jabber Foundation and Mozilla have done), and a larger international focus on working with the OpenID communities in Asia and Europe. Awesome!”
This is a major initiative that all libraries should be watching. By integrating into the ID/password simplicity movement we will help improve the user experience for our users. We also need to participate in the development to ensure our users’ privacy and rights are protected too. We need to understand this development very well. Are libraries ready to participate with OpenID? Anyone out there already signed on? Anyone out there with a personal or organizational membership?

Posted on: February 18, 2008, 10:43 am Category: Uncategorized