When it comes to online identification there are a lot of ways to identify one’s self. The most popular method used to identify yourself on the internet is through the use of a username with password combination. This method has been tested and is time honored. When Microsoft released it’s Passport (now Windows Live ID) concept they utilized the email address with a password combination which is just a small change to the user name idea. The idea behind the Windows Live ID concept was to have one password for multiple sites. This would allow a user to come up with one really secure password and use that one password on several sites. Of course, this particular ID only worked on Microsoft owned sites such as MSN, Hotmail, or even MSN Messanger. The idea of a single login is a popular one. But how to do you gain customer trust when a single login can be utilized to access anything a user connects to. One popular idea is to open source the method, the theory being that if people can see the source code behind something there is less chance for someone to take advantage of the technology for questionable purposes. This is where OpenID comes in.
OpenID is an open framework originally developed by the folks at LiveJournal. The OpenID framework is free to utilize and thus seeks heavy adoption from the Open Source community at large. They have even offered a bounty to the first 10 large-scale Open Source projects that implement OpenID.
OpenID works off the idea of using a website as the form of identification. A website is linked to an OpenID server where the user has a login and password. Once the user has registered with an OpenID server (Verisign has one) they can utilize their website or the supplied OpenID from the provider as their identification. Entering that URL into an OpenID login form will take them to the login of the OpenID server and then from there they can authorize the site they are logging into to access their OpenID. Once that site has been authorized, they only need to use the URL to login. Pretty cool huh?
If you do not want to utilize one of the free services out there and use their provided URLs as an OpenID, you can follow Simon’s instructions on turning your own website into an OpenID. This would allow you to use your own website as your identification, and since you probably own your website, this can not be such a bad thing. Also, by utilizing your own website as an OpenID you are guaranteed to have a working OpenID for however long you own the domain.
Can OpenID see mass adoption? I think so, especially as more and more people begin to start their own websites. The idea behind using the website you own as your online identification is a good one. I think that blogging is what is going to help OpenID succeed overall. Blogging is what people are starting their websites to do. As more people start their websites, they will learn about OpenID and begin to adopt it, not only as their means of logging into websites but also to allow users to login to their website.
OpenID works better because it is an open framework. Where Microsoft’s Windows Live ID is limited to Microsoft only products, OpenID has the ability to be integrated into a large number of things with ease. I am interested to see what Open Source projects will integrate OpenID and how they will integrate it. But the future of OpenID looks good. It is getting adopted on more sites everyday and continues to grow in popularity.
List of Sites Utilizing OpenID for Logins: