Getting OpenID to work – when oh when?

Joseph Boyle who came to our identity panel at sxsw and then joined us for lunch has been sharing with me some of his OpenID challenges. These happen all the time – ALL THE TIME. Thing is – he is a tech guy and he still can’t get any of this to work. I asked him to document his challenges so I could share them with you – he sent this to me and O’Reilly tech folks (that was where he was trying to login)… I am hoping that these UI issues can be resolved soon.

I was going to sign up at:
https://en.oreilly.com/webexsf2009/user/account/signup/attendee#
and saw a Sign up with an OpenID option. Since I’m interested in OpenID, I thought I’d try to use an OpenID associated with one of my Yahoo or Google accounts, but this is proving more difficult than I expected.
I did manage to find Yahoo’s page for turning on OpenID support for my Yahoo account and did this, getting response:

Feeling geeky?
When you log in to a website that supports OpenID login we’ll send your OpenID identifier to the website so it can identify you.
To make things easy, we have generated this identifier for you:
https://me.yahoo.com/a/T_HpXDQkssQpI_sR……………………..
You don’t need to save this identifier. While logging in to websites, you can simply look for a Yahoo! button or typeyahoo.com in the OpenID text field. You can also choose additional custom identifiers for your Yahoo! account below.

Not geeky enough, apparently, as pasting the Yahoo-provided identifiers into your OpenID box gives errors:
Unable to find OpenID server for ‘https://me.yahoo.com/a/T_HpXDQkssQpI_sR…………………….’Unable to find OpenID server for ‘http://www.flickr.com/photos/josephboyle’
Help! What am I doing wrong? Thanks, Joseph Boyle

Identity Panel & Lunch at SXSW

I am really excited to be heading to Austin tomorrow for SXSW Interactive. After attending for 2 years in a row I didn’t attend last year and watched as all the tweets went by – wishing I was there.

I am facilitating a panel on Sunday morning 11:30 – it should be a lively one. OpenID, Oauth, Data Portability and the Enterprise.

It will be moderated by me, Identity Woman and include these find panelists, Bob Blakely The Burton Group, Danny Kolke Etelos, Inc., Joseph Smarr Chief Platform Architect, Plaxo Inc

The debate over identity, data and authentication is gaining ground in the social networking world. The more difficult discussion regarding enterprises and Web 2.0 has yet to start. Businesses realize that they must protect the data of their company, employees and customers. Join brave leaders from several Web Application companies that are beginning the discussion, “Are OpenID and OAuth good for the enterprise?”

Following there will be a Lunch for all those who want to continue the conversation – you can RSVP here.

There is a Project VRM Breakfast on Saturday morning (we figured that at least that morning people would be able/willing to get up early).

Monday for lunch I am inviting women interested in learning more about She’s Geeky to get together.

I will be tweeting away – and this is a good way to find me while I am there just DM me.

I will do some schedule browsing and post sessions related to identity tomorrow.

OpenID Momentum continues

Dave posted today on the OpenID.net blog articulating the accomplishments of the past year.

I think it is important to acknowledge the significant progress OpenID as an Open Standard for persistent digital identity across the web has made. It is amazing to think how far it has come in 2.5 years since IIW1.

Recently I was talking with a person knowledgeable about the identity community and OpenID in particular – they mentioned that some of the conversations amongst those running for the board didn’t help the community look “good”. I said to them you know a lot of communities have elections and there is 6 board seats open and 6 people running for them – so there really isn’t a dialogue, public conversation that has texture (a different word for conflicting points of view). I celebrate a community that can dive in and engage with a range of points of view and really have a meaty dialogue. This is to be celebrated – the pains of growing up.

Wired just did a detailed article on OpenID’s and Blog commenting. It closed with this… NB: Before you race to point out the irony that this particular blog doesn’t support OpenID logins for comments, I can assure you — we’re working on it.

It also said this:


It’s easier for blogs, which don’t need a lot of demographic information about a user, to let people jump in and start participating socially without filling out a registration form. Major media properties and newspaper websites, on the other hand, want age and income data they can use to sell more targeted ads. OpenID and its companion technologies have mechanisms for sites to collect that data from their users, but those mechanisms are largely left out of the blog commenting systems.

It makes me sad to see this. I was just signing up for a topica list – it asked me for my gender the year I was born and my zip code. It is trying to figure out who I am. What I don’t think is well understood is how information sharing happens over time. Asking people to give away PII (personally identifying information) to look at a newspaper is bad practice and encourages lying.

Does OpenID meet P___/Activist test yet?

Beth Kanter one of my favorite nonprofit tech friends Twittered this article The Cute Cat Theory Talk at eTech.

It puts forward an interesting hypothesis:

Based on my Tripod experience, I’d offer the hypothesis that any sufficiently advanced read/write technology will get used for two purposes: pornography and activism. Porn is a weak test for the success of participatory media – it’s like tapping a mike and asking, “Is it on?” If you’re not getting porn in your system, it doesn’t work. Activism is a stronger test – if activists are using your tools, it’s a pretty good indication that your tools are useful and usable.

The article goes continues summarizing a half dozen or more examples of how tools on the web have been used for activist purposes. It is an amazing list and worth the read.

I guess I am wondering if OpenID has been used for activism yet? I know that I have been evangelizing the concept in the NPTech community for longer then anywhere else – beginning at NTEN’s Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) in 2004. I am still not sure that it has sunk in or that they have figured out how to use it. Unfortunately I will not be at the NTC this year to find out.

Sorry – I am really trying to get openID to work on this hoster (well my tech person Lucy is) there is still something not working. So if you want to comment either link to this blog post and say it on your own site or send me e-mail kaliya (at) mac (dot) com. If any of you OpenID tech folks want to see if you can help her solve the problem let me know I will put you in touch.

What the Heck is Identity Commons?

The purpose of Identity Commons is:

The purpose of Identity Commons is to support, facilitate, and promote the creation of an open identity layer for the Internet — one that maximizes control, convenience, and privacy for the individual while encouraging the development of healthy, interoperable communities.

This one sentence jams a lot into it – we tried to do that so the purpose didn’t go on and on – but was clear, broad and inclusive of the range of issues that need to be addressed and balanced. Jamming so much into that one sentence also creates a challenge – it has to be ‘parsed’ quite a bit to get what it all means. I worked with Chris Allen recently to separate out the values within the purpose and our community. This is our initial draft that is still evolving (wordsimthing suggestions are welcome).

We believe in the dignity of human individual in the context of the digital world.

In order to make this true we strive for a balance of factors and valuesas digital systems and tools evolve:

  • Individual control, convenience & privacy
  • Sharing of information when participating in community
  • Support for commercial and non-commercial exchange
  • Interoperability and openness between systems

We work to bring these values into practice by fostering a collaborative a community of individuals, organizations and companies share these values and are working together towards practical technical implementations.

We share a pragmatic idealism.

We work to practice what we preach and have openness and transparency in what we do.

We do know there are a lot of technical social and legal issues that arise and Identity Commons is a space that make it possible to in a non-directive non-hierachical way address them in a collaborative way.

We also have some shared principles mostly concerning how we organize ourselves and work together. Each has a sentence to articulate it further.

1. Self-organization
2. Transparency
3. Inclusion
4. Empowerment
5. Collaboration
6. Openness
7. Dogfooding

What the heck is an “open identity layer” – well we don’t exactly know but we do have a community that has come together some shared understanding and continue to ‘struggle’ with what it means and how it should work. Identity Commons provides a ‘common’ space to work on this shared goal by facilitating dialogue and collaboration.

Kim Cameron introduced the terminology “identity meta-system” and articulated what that might mean. The Laws of Identity were put forward by him along with some additional ideas by other community members.

There is no “decider” or group of deciders or “oversight committee” as part of Identity Commons ‘directing’ the development of the “open identity layer”.

We are a community collaborating together and working to exchange information about our independent but related efforts working towards the vision. The way we do this is via the working group agreement.

  1. Asking each working group to articulate its purpose, principles and practices by filling out a charter – this helps us be clear about how different groups work and what they do/are planning on doing
  2. Stewards review proposed working group charters – ask questions, consider were there are synergies, and see if they are aligned with the purpose and principles
  3. A vote of the stewards council is held
  4. Working Groups agree to report quarterly on their activities to remain active as groups of the organization – this also is our core ‘inter group communication mechanism – so that you don’t have to be on 20+ mailing lists to know what is going on in the community.

More about Stewards:
Each working group has one steward and an alternate for the stewards council.

The stewards are responsible for the things IC holds in common – the brand and its integrity and common assets (like the wiki and bank account). It does not ‘direct things’.

Stewards have (an optional) monthly phone calls and discuss and make decisions on a mailing list (that anyone can join).

More about Working Groups:
There are working groups within Identity Commons that support the community collaborating – the stewards council does not ‘run’ these groups but they serve the community and our efforts together- The Internet Identity Workshop, IC Collaborative Tools, Idnetity Futures, Id Media Review, Identity Gang, Marketing and Evangelism.

Working Groups come in several forms:
They can be an group of people with a passion to address something they feel needs to be addressed to get to the big vision. They want some wiki space and a mailing list to talk about the issues. Examples include Enterprise Positioning, Inclusive Initiatives, Identity Rights Agreements.

They can be an existing project that are part of a larger organization, Higgins is an example of this – they are a project of the Eclipse Foundation.

They can be something that grew out of conversations in the Identity Commons community and found a home within another organization like Project VRM (charter) has as part of the Berkman Center and will likely become its own ‘organization’ independent of Berkman by the end of the year.

They can be completely independent nonprofit organizations with their own boards, governance, bank account etc. examples include XDI.org and OpenID.

Some just get technical stuff done as part of IC like OSIS (doing its 3rd Interop at RSA in a month), and Identity Schemas.

Benefits to being explicitly a part of the IC Community.

clarity about each groups purpose, principles, and practices – so that collaboration is easier.

sharing of information via the collaborative tools and lists, along with the required quarterly reporting,

We “don’t know” what an identity layer looks like but we do know it needs to have certain properties to make it work for people the extensible nature of IC gives people the freedom to start a new group that addresses an aspect of the vision. This is the page on the IC wiki that explains our organizational structure.

We are a community.
We are a community more then “an organization” and joining does not mean subsuming a group identity under IC but rather stating a commitment to a shared vision, common values and commitment to collaboration.

A touch of formalism can help create great clarity of group pratices (governenace), leadership, intention, and focus. Not needed for small groups of 12 people doing one thing- helpful when you scale to the 1000′s of people working on the big vision. IC through its groups structure has 1000′s of people participating helping to innovate the technology and think about the social and legal implications.

We are not about “a solution” or “a blue print” there will be multiple operators and multiple standards – yes like the web there may one day be ‘standard’ that emerges just like TCP/IP did and HTML/HTTPS – however it is way to early to promote or be behind “one” thing, it is not to early to start collaborating and building shared meaning and understanding and interoperability between emerging efforts.

Identity problems in the digital realm are as much about technical issues as they are about the social implications and legal issues. Identity Commons explicitly makes space for the social and legal issues to be deal with in relationship to the technologies as it evolves.

In closing there is a background (shorter) and a history (longer) written about the community as it evolved.