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January 09, 2008

Flickr - yet another OpenID provider

Via Dan Brickley and Simon Willison I note that Flickr looks set to support OpenID.  This has got to be good news for the future of OpenID, though I'm left wondering what the consequences are of a user-centric identity management landscape in which the balance between the number of 'providers' and the number of 'consumers' seems set to be weighted so heavily in favour of the providers.

Simon Willison appears to see no reason to be concerned about this, saying:

OpenID is good for more than just authentication. The OpenID protocol allows a user to assert ownership of a URL. This can be used for SSO-style authentication, but it can also be used to prove ownership of a specific account to some other service, a concept I’ve been calling identity projection.

and:

A common misconception about OpenID is that it’s only really useful if users stick to using one identity. I’d be happy to see every one of my online profiles acting as an OpenID, not for SSO authentication (I’ll pick one “primary” OpenID to use for that) but so that I can selectively cross-pollinate some of my profiles to new services.

I must admit I struggle to get my head around the possibilities of the technology here.  I worry slightly about the statement that an OpenID "can also be used to prove ownership of a specific account" since that feels like quite a big leap from "asserting ownership of a URL".  Nonetheless, I can see that there are interesting possibilities here.

What worries me is that if the "selective cross-pollination" hinted at above is based on OAuth (which I assume it must be) then we need a better balance of 'consumers' and 'providers' then we appear to have currently?

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