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2008, year of the ID

I have a prediction. This year will be the year that single identification for the web becomes a reality. There are a number of big projects already underway with the intention of centralising all your account and personal details, for use by the myriad different online subscriptions you have.

The big open community push is with OpenID, who have a strong product. The precursors were things like Microsoft's Passport, which is a good example of how closed, proprietary solutions can never work. The real utility of this sort of service, like so many other social "Web 2.0" projects, relies on its uptake. An open identity can only be useful if it is compatible everywhere, and it will only be compatible everywhere if everyone starts using it, and everyone will only start using it if it's compatible everywhere. This is why typically it takes some serious commercial muscle to build a service like this. The downside is that abominations like MySpace and Passport emerge. The positive side is that without commercial muscle, an excellent product like Facebook has done very well, so there is hope for projects like OpenID yet.

If you want to read more, there is even a Wikipedia entry on the topic called Identity 2.0.

The prediction came to me as I was sorting through some email. Here's a snapshot of my "accounts" folder at the moment:

Email Accounts

That's at least 15 accounts I've signed up and registered for in the last couple of months. That's 15 sets of credentials to remember and 15 lots of personal details I had to enter. And this is not an unusual month - it happens every month. As more and more of our life comes online, this is only going to increase. There's a reason every site displays the "Forgotten your password?" link so predominantly - very few people can remember all their passwords! Universal identification management is where it's at this year. Jump on the bandwagon now!


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Did you mean to say Facebook twice? It reads as though it's contradictory. I've used this post with my team to discuss another part of our system design in DET. We have a range of IDMs as well that we are trying to bring down to one.

Good catch, that is rather contradictory! Fixed.

Look what appeared in the news today:

Google, IBM, Microsoft, VeriSign, and Yahoo! join the OpenID board

Interesting discussion on SlashDot too - OpenID is already part of Yahoo!, AOL and LiveJournal accounts.

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