Still excited about OpenID, but…

November 20, 2008

In my last post, I described a potential solution to some of the difficulties
in handling repository embargo, using OpenID. I outlined some of the potential
difficulties in the solution near the end, but I evidently didn’t go far enough!
Talat Chaudri responded on twitter: –

@jimdowning trouble is that (a) lots of people don’t have OpenIDs
and (b) they’d have to maintain them to ensure that the OpenIDs stay

Owen Stephens also commented on the post, linking to a post that pointed out that the OpenID “user experience” leaves much to be desired.

On the subject of the user experience and the lack of adoption, I spent some time thinking of the best way to leap to OpenID’s defence, and
then realized I really don’t have to. OpenID is transitioning from early adopter
to fast follower maturity – and one that’s currently working
out what this digital identity thing means
, which suggests to me that OpenID
is timely and relevant. I’m sure the OpenID user experience will get better –
something like, but with better features for FOAF type stuff.

I thought a bit more about Talat’s second objection (“[Users] would have to
maintain them to ensure that the OpenIDs stay live”) to the solution I proposed,
and realized that it’s the same characteristic that makes OpenID work as a
persistable, distributed identity mechanism that create the problems: the use of
indirection. What motivates people to keep their references up to date? To my mind the solution for OpenID has to involve removing personal details form filling completely (I still need to dig into the attribute exchange features in OpenID).


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