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In 2005, Dick Hardt gave his famous “Identity 2.0” presentation at O’Reilly’s Open Source Convention (OSCON). The logic and examples were compelling and complete, the analogy to real-life convincing. There was really not much more to say on the topic. If you saw the presentation, you were convinced — the time had come for an open, portable online identity.

Since then, OpenID has been gaining traction in new media spaces, particularly blogs and social media sites.

Now, according to the New York Times, Microsoft has made Windows Live compatible with OpenID, recognizing it as “the de facto standard Web protocol for authentication.”

This move virtually ensures that major players from Yahoo! to Google to AOL will have to stop paying lip service to OpenID and begin to accept it as the authentication modality of the Web.

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Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson is the CEO of RedLink and RedLink Network, a past-President of SSP, and the founder of the Scholarly Kitchen. He has worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the Massachusetts Medical Society, Publishing Director of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are his own.


3 Thoughts on "OpenID Goes Mainstream"

I’ll be following closely how this develops. I’m concerned that with OpenID there’s significant potential for phishing. This and various user experience issues will need to be addressed before OpenID can make the leap towards mainstream adoption.

To be sure, OpenID is a great thing. The problem is that there is going to be a proliferation of OpenIDs, e.g., you will have one from Microsoft, one from Google, etc. There are two questions in particular that emerge:

(1) Which ones can be trusted?
(2) Which ones are most valuable to you?

The answer to (1) is pretty straightforward. People trusts brands. Microsoft and Google OpenIDs will be almost universally trusted. What will be more interesting is how societies can become OpenID identity providers (IdP) for their members.

My answer to (2) is slightly more involved. What is your Microsoft or Google OpenID going to give you aside from single sign-on? Not much. But what can a society’s OpenID give you? A professional identity, relevant services, and so much more.

OpenID is more than a single sign-on mechanism–it’s a calling card. Societies need to become identity providers to their members and readers and then they need to develop personalization services around the OpenIDs.

Think about it. In our space, which is more valuable: an identity with Microsoft or Google or an identity with the National Academy of Sciences? You may find that people end up trusting the latter more, too.

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