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Stepping Up to the Plate (OpenID style)

With the recent Windows Live announcement of OpenID support, the open protocol is making huge advancements. And the open community must be thrilled, because who wouldn’t love 400 million newly enabled identities to take you anywhere on the web? But I would’ve preferred a different announcement. I would’ve been much more excited if Microsoft announced themselves as an OpenID relying party, and started making my OpenID actually useful.

As a user of Google, Yahoo, Windows Live, and countless other sites, I appreciate when my logins are synced and my I can align my identity as I choose. The problem is that each of those three doesn’t let me use my OpenID to sign in. As I spend most of my time on those sites, and while its great that they’ve each claimed a piece of my identity, when are they going to let me use it?

It’s time that the open community demanded something different; it’s time they demanded reliance. I want to make my identity usable, portable, and simple. I want to consolidate the person I am on the internet, and allow my sites to talk to each other. I want to move my data as I choose, hold on to my friends, and maintain my privacy. The flood of different services, some of whom rely, some of whom provide, some of whom do neither, disrupt what should/could have been an easy experience. It seems that sites like Plaxo and JanRain are of the few who remain committed to the central mission of OpenID- to make it useful in the way that it’s intended. While others engage in a land-grab for my identity, one that now encompasses an additional 400 million Windows Live users, I’m still waiting for the person who will accept my identity as I know it now- because the site that lets me use it is the site I’m going to trust to hold it.

Props to John McCrea and Joseph Smarr (full disclosure: I was their intern at Plaxo)- for getting the vision right.

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