Domain as Identity Getting Closer to Real

Brian Oberkirch has a nice post about how we need OpenID to corral the proliferation of identity information out there on the Web.

The problems are real:

  • Too many accounts and logins
    The social networks have really exacerbated the problem. Before, we had accounts for many things, like shopping, banking, email, etc. But when social networks came into the picture, they asked us for more than credit card numbers, they want things like our favorite movies, our lists of friends, our soul. Having to copy that information over and over again is a drag.
  • No authoritative source for identity
    So with our many accounts, which one is correct? What if there are differences between them? More likely, what if things change and I don’t go back to update them? The information quickly becomes old, with each service having it’s own dated copy there is no authoritative source. That gets confusing fast.
  • Too many copies of content (with microformats this is multiplying)
    Brian calls this the Darowski Problem. If everyone uses microformats for everything, there quickly gets to be thousands of copies of all this data. This might not be a problem in itself, but then you do things like go to search engines and find all the copies…and you have the no authority problem again. Brian suggests a “gold copy” that is the authoritative copy, located on your personal site.
  • No way to find authoritative source even if we had one
    Even if we centralized all authority on a single blog, for example, we still need a way to find it. We have ways of doing this in other facets, like the meta information in <link> tags, which can help user agents find the right copy. This makes it possible to have different URLs but a standard for finding the right one.

I think Brian is absolutely right…we need an authority for identity. Using OpenID will get us to a domain, which is excellent. I’ve been suggesting for a while now that it should be our own domain, as opposed to another service. It is likely, however, that many individuals won’t have the time or the energy to run their own domain, so this looks ripe for a service (Brian suggests LinkedIn) to really push the boundary.

Past pieces on Domain as Identity:

A Messaging Proxy and Domain as Identity

Domain as Identity

Published: March 4th, 2007