Wednesday, January 30

I want more OpenID providers

Yahoo! launched their OpenID provider site today. I’m happy with MyOpenID and delegation, though I may switch to our deal once we’ve fleshed out the functionality a bit more.

Still, I have the exact opposite philosophy from Dana Epp, who argues that what we need is more OpenID consumers, not providers:
This is the problem with OpenID. Everyone wants to be the provider of the identity. No one wishes to consume it and trust someone else. … We need more consumers.... not more providers. I talked about this back in 2006. Until we get more consumers going, OpenID will be on the cusp of being a geek thing.
From my perspective on Blogger, the exact opposite is true. We need so many OpenID providers that everyone on the web has one without even noticing it. Once every web page that represents identity (or persona, really) has OpenID baked into it, we can say “sign in with your OpenID! Yes, you already have one!”

Once we get over that hurdle and OpenID is more noticed, then people can start shopping around for the best identity provider and start picking out services that work for them.

The “one username and password” argument for OpenID has never been tremendously compelling, but tying activity from one site to another — such as, “the owner of has commented here” — is incredibly interesting.

For that to happen, or at least get off the ground, we need 1,000 OpenID providers to bloom.

(Now, this post doesn’t take into account that Yahoo!’s OpenID setup which, save for a Flickr integration, is not tied to any URLs that already exist, and therefore fails the “you already have one” test slightly. Perhaps we need fewer providers, but more delegation? Still, it’s a reasonable upgrade path to go from signing in with a Yahoo or AIM account / OpenID to signing in with a URL that’s more meaningful to your current persona.)

Quick update: Simon Willison, in an interview with the Yahoo! Developer Network blog:
My personal dream feature would be for every one of my Yahoo! profile pages - on del.ici.ous, Upcoming, Flickr, Yahoo! Answers and more - to work as an OpenID. I'd like this not for authentication purposes but to let me "prove" my ownership of those profiles to other sites - I envisage all sorts of interesting mashups in the future based on users using OpenID to prove who they are on many different services.