63 million people just joined OpenID, and gained all the benefits that this can bring, without knowing it because AOL had just enrolled them. Anyone with an AOL account just got enrolled and gained this benefit automatically without even being asked. Not that I think this was a bad thing, because it’s a pretty significant step forward in transportable identities and solves the limitations of Microsoft’s .net passport scheme which was neither ‘open’ nor widely enough accepted to create a defacto standard. Currently this bold step by AOL is not without its issues.
Significantly Microsoft has joined OpenID together with a significant group of others. If you want to go deeper into the building of OpenID solutions into Open Source projects then take a look at ‘the heraldry project’.
A fully transportable and common accepted identity providing a single sign-in managed by an organisation with whom you have already chosen to register, in the case of AOL an ISP, is a critical building block for the development of genuine people centric applications. Its decentralised model allows its use in a score of different ways, and not only externally either, visualise the ability to manage ‘independent’ mobile workers this way. These are the very people you want to have multiple interactions in order to make them locally more effective.
Is it secure? Well not really, but its use is not intended for secure purposes, its all about everyday low level interaction simplicity, and in any case most people register their information on sites such as Amazon and eBay with the same user name and password. However as you only leave your registration details including password on one site it is perhaps more secure then leaving then on many different sites some of which may not be too well managed. Why do I really get excited about it?
It’s simple, with AOL, Microsoft, Technorati, WiKitravel, etc supporting OpenID it achieves the critical mass to make it into being the every day recognised system, and once that happens a lot of other possibilities open up. The information carried in association with an OpenID account could include ‘trust’ ratings from eBay or other sources, even lists of friends. Preferences might be useful, imagine getting the ‘right’ rental car to suit your likes and dislikes as an example.
The possibilities of linking people, and information, to support interactions into transactions seem to be relatively endless. Now that makes a serious impact on the commercialisation of a new generation of Web 2.0 based applications and businesses!