Chris Messina at Google – Good for him, Google & The Identity/Social Web Community.

I was one of the first people to congratulate Chris Messina on his blog when he announced he was going to Google. It was a personal congratulations. I wasn’t sure if it was good overall for the open web vision or the community as a whole. In the end after thinking about it for a few days I feel it is a good move for them, for Google and for the community. The rest of this post explains why.

With Chris going to Google it gives them three seats on the OpenID board (Joseph and Chris are both community board members and Google has a corporate paying board member seat filled by Eric Sachs). It concentrates a lot of power at Google and I agree with Eran’s concerns from Marshall’s RWW/NYTimes article …why be “open” if you can just have an internal product meeting with Brad Fitzpatrick and a few other Googlers and “ship” a product without reaching out to others. I agree with the concern and I think there will be enough eyes on these individuals in particular and Google in particular to challenge them if they do that.

Thursday morning I sat at “geek breakfast” in Berkeley with a friend discussing Chris and Joseph’s move to Google. We mused about how many people we knew who “get social” have been at Google and because “Google didn’t get social” they were unhappy so they left, Kevin Marks being just the latest example leaving in the fall for British Telecom/Ribbit where he works for JP Rangaswami, the CIO who really gets open.
Given this, if “just” Joseph Smarr was going to Google he would be more “alone” trying to “do social right” at Google. Yes, he would have allies but no one quite as high profile as himself. With Chris Messina there too, there are now two major committed community leaders who can work the politics involved in helping Google to “get” social and actually do it right. If anyone has a hope inside that big company it is those two and I don’t think either could be as effective alone.
If Chris and Joseph fail, that is if they get frustrated and leave (which they can at any time they want cause they are very “employable” because of their profiles by a whole range of companies in the valley) then is a sign that Google doesn’t really “get” social and isn’t moving in the right direction in terms of supporting the emergence of an open standards based, individually empowering & social web.
With Zuckerberg’s statement’s about privacy and the recent actions by Facebook to make user-information public, Google has a huge opportunity to live up to its slogan of “not doing evil”. Over the fall Google made some promising statements on the meaning of open and took action spinning up the Data Liberation Front.
I know many people who currently are and have been at Google. All of them talk about how secure things are internally – it is not possible to go into their systems and “look up a user” and poke around at what they have in their e-mail, or what they have searched on or what is in their google docs. Algorithms look at people’s stuff there, not people. Google takes their brand and reputation for protecting people’s private information seriously. I am not particularly starry eyed about Google thinking they can do no evil – they are just a company driven by the need to make a profit. I worry that they might be becoming too dominant in some aspects of the web and that there are legitimate concerns about the monopoly power they have in certain market area.
I don’t see this as a Google vs. Facebook fight either. Chris, Brad, Eric, Joseph are all at Google & David Recordon and Luke at Facebook; they are all good friends socially and are just six people in the overall identity community made up of about 1000 people at 100’s of companies. Yahoo!, AOL, Microsoft (enterprise & MSN side), are all involved along with PayPal, Amazon, BT, Orange, Mozilla, Sun, Equifax, Apple, Axiom, Oracle, & many many more. They all come together twice a year at the Internet Identity Workshops and other events to collaborate on innovating open standards for identity on the social web.
I invite those who want to participate in the dialogue to consider attending the 10th Internet Identity Worskshop May 18-20.

I take the health of the identity community, its over all tone and balance quite seriously. I helped foster it from the beginning really starring in March of 2004 including 9 months from June of that year until January 2005 it was my first major job – evangelizing user-centric identity and growing the community to tackle solving this enormous problem (an identity and social layer of the web for people). I along with others like Doc Searls, Phil Windley, Drummond Reed, Bill Washburn, Mary Ruddy, Mary Rundle, Paul Trevithick, Dick Hardt, Eugene Kim & many others formed the identity community. Having put my heart, soul, sweat and tears into this community and working towards good results for people & the web, I don’t say what I say in this post lightly.

Web Finger! moving out into world

I love the Internet Identity Workshop! it is where innovative ideas are hatched, answers to hard problems are vetted and standards consensus emerges. This is just the latest in amazing collaborations that have emerged.

Web Finger was covered on Tech Crunch today with this headline – Google Points At WebFinger. Your Gmail Address Could Soon Be Your ID.

At IIW in May they had a session lead by John Panzer. The notes were not filled out that much but (All the Notes from IIW)   

but there is a white board of their conversation and a link to what google had up.

Chris Messina spliced it together

XRD the discovery protocol is part of how Web Finger works. This spun out of XRI.

Techcrunch didn’t explicitly pick up on the fact that Eran Hammer-Lahev has been a key collaborator and is at Yahoo! (they did link to the mailing list where he is posting). He has been really driving XRD forward lately.

All exciting stuff.

Personal Anchor on the Web for Digital Identity – CC Images

I got a request for the images I posted in “Personal Anchors on the Web for Digital Identity” from David Larlet to use in a slide presentation in France. I decided to open them up and post them here.

Below are versions with english text and a version without english text.

[Read more…]

What is the map of the challenge? Usability and Web Authentication

Last week for two days I was at the W3C workshop on usability and authentication. It was hosted at the top of a citibank building in Brooklyn. We had to present ID at the door to get upstairs.

The room was a very long rectangle room with three presentation screens and 2 giant columns. It is a terrible lay out. The first morning we heard 3 ppt presentations about ‘the problems’ of for usable security and authentication. Maybe people are 1/2 present doing e-mail and other things.

I really wanted to interactively (as in facilitated face to face discussion) create a map of the problem space. By the end of two days I sort of got it but I know we as a room could have come up with that in 1/2 a day and then sent the rest of the time really working on ideas for solutions.

There are a bunch of constituencies.
Browsers – Firefox, Opera and IE (Microsoft)
Big websites – AOL, Yahoo, Google.
Certificate Authorities – Verisign
Banks

They all want security of verifying websites to be more usable and understandable to normal folks. So there was usability experts.

I think I understand why ‘standards bodies’ and processes get bogged down. They are really not very innovative in their face to face technology – presentations for a two days do not create a positive energetic vortex and community to move forward on solving problems.

I am really tuned into this need to get better at our face to face process so our ideas and innovations for the online world can actually work.

A service I use got bought by Google…mmmm…

So I started using MeasureMap several months ago the first week it was live . I LOVE it…but it just got bought by Google. I am not a big fan of Google these days…now they have all the traffic and links on my blog. Are they going to start charging me for this service? How do they monazite this service? I have no problem with them making money but as a user of the service I would like to know exactly how they plan do it and plan it.

Down with Buddy lists….

Mobile Jones

Jazz, an application that provides audio messaging to yet another circle of friends. More invites….more buddy lists….

There were so many identity silos at the etel.

Each phone handset has one for address books –

  • Motorola,
  • Nokia

Telecom Incumbents

  • Orange(france telecom),
  • British Telecom

Cool “apps”

  • YackPack
    Jazz

The Incumbent internet players

  • ebay/Paypal/skype [PESk]
  • Yahoo!
  • Google (using Jabber)
  • Microsoft

Marc on the Open Web

Marc Canter’s AlwaysOn article finally is out. Breaking the Web Wide Open!

For decades, “walled gardens” of proprietary standards and content have been the strategy of dominant players in mainframe computer software, wireless telecommunications services, and the World Wide Web—it was their successful lock-in strategy of keeping their customers theirs. But like it or not, those walls are tumbling down. Open web standards are being adopted so widely, with such value and impact, that the web giants—Amazon, AOL, eBay, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo—are facing the difficult decision of opening up to what they don’t control.

Identity is the first topic covered and he does a great job summarizing:

Right now, you don’t really control your own online identity. At the core of just about every online piece of software is a membership system. Some systems allow you to browse a site anonymously—but unless you register with the site you can’t do things like search for an article, post a comment, buy something, or review it. The problem is that each and every site has its own membership system. So you constantly have to register with new systems, which cannot share data—even you’d want them to. By establishing a “single sign-on” standard, disparate sites can allow users to freely move from site to site, and let them control the movement of their personal profile data, as well as any other data they’ve created.

Identity 2.0 is all about users controlling their own profile data and becoming their own agents. This way the users themselves, rather than other intermediaries, will profit from their ID info. Once developers start offering single sign-on to their users, and users have trusted places to store their data—which respect the limits and provide access controls over that data, users will be able to access personalized services which will understand and use their personal data.

The Initiatives:
Right now, Identity 2.0 is under construction through various efforts from Microsoft (the “InfoCard” component built into the Vista operating system and its “Identity Metasystem”), Sxip Identity, Identity Commons, Liberty Alliance, LID (NetMesh’s Lightweight ID), and SixApart’s OpenID.

More Movers and Shakers:
Identity Commons and Kaliya Hamlin, Sxip Identity and Dick Hardt, the Identity Gang and Doc Searls, Microsoft’s Kim Cameron, Craig Burton, Phil Windley, and Brad Fitzpatrick, to name a few.