OpenID And Make Your Website URL Your Identity

OpenID logo

How many websites do you login to? I for have thousands of accounts and consequentially thousands of usernames and passwords. I forget the ones I use infrequently and end up creating another set. It is quite an effort to keep their track, all my attempts like storing them in email or locally on machine or in a database have turned out to be ineffective or inefficient. Do we really have to remember so many usernames and passwords for using all these services? It is natural for you to feel it is so, until you know about OpenID.

What is OpenID?

OpenID is an open, decentralized, free framework for user-centric digital identity.

OpenID starts with the concept that anyone can identify themselves on the Internet the same way websites do-with a URI (also called a URL or web address). Since URIs are at the very core of Web architecture, they provide a solid foundation for user-centric identity.

In short, OpenID is a URL based identity syste. You can create an URI to represent you on the Web. No need of using a username to do so, just use the URI, everywhere. There are multiple providers of OpenID, and they securely store your password. Sites which take OpenID (like Zooomr, LiveJournal), ask you to enter that URI and then you get redirected to that provider. Once you login there, and sometimes even control black and white lists, you are given required credentials for that service you want to use.

It is not only convenient for the user but also secure since every service will not have its own storage of your passwords.

Your Website Your Identity

OpenID takes this one step further. If you own a URL already, like this blog’s URL, you can use it to delegate the identity to your OpenID provider. For example, I use getopenid.com/anadgouda as my OpenID URL that identifies me. I can quickly, that is, with a couple of lines of code, start using ifacethoughts.net as the URL. The advantage that I get here is that even if I change my OpenID provider in future the URL that identifies me can remain the same.

Brian Ellin has details on how to do this. For my blog I added the following in the head HTML element:

<link rel="openid.server" href="http://getopenid.com/action/authenticate" />
<link rel="openid.delegate" href="http://getopenid.com/anadgouda" />

Now I can use ifacethoughts.net wherever OpenID is demanded. So convenient, and true!

Not yet Popular

The problem with OpenID has been that it is still not popular. Popular services that use OpenID can probably be counted with your fingers. In spite of being one of the best in technical merit, benefit to the user and ease of operation, many have not picked it up. I attribute this to lack of knowledge and sometimes misconceptions. I want my OpenID! is setup as a community marketing home for OpenID, but I wonder how many know about it. There is also a centralised resource site called OpenID Enabled that has a lot of tools for developers.

I think it is a brilliant concept, but needs to be popularlised, needs to reach the common man on the Web. Such concepts will not be useful unless they are popular and are adopted by a lot of services. Maybe a starting a blog can help.

Discussion [Participate or Link]

  1. More OpenID on iface thoughts said:

    […] Sam Ruby provides complete introduction to OpenID. I wrote about it on last day of the last year, when I started using my blog as my identity. But Sam has given further illustrations of hosting the identity on your own server without much effort, and explains why not to do it. The real downside [of using another server] is privacy. It gives somebody else partial information about a portion of your online habits. And much of the information that they don’t have is readily discoverable. […]

  2. OpenID Through Yahoo! on iface thoughts said:

    […] is a good boost for OpenID. Sam Sethi tried idproxy.net and hints that the big players like Yahoo, Google and MSN should […]

  3. OpenID And Phishing on iface thoughts said:

    […] Becker discusses increasing popularity of OpenID, and phishing. The concept behind OpenID is that your identity for various sites gets controlled through your OpenID provider which is just […]

  4. Microsoft Supporting OpenID on iface thoughts said:

    […] is specifically going to work with JanRain, Sxip and Verisign towards using information cards with OpenID. It will be great it this also includes using OpenID for various Microsoft services. OpenID is […]

  5. Easier OpenID on iface thoughts said:

    […] about FreeYourID. The steps of creating and OpenID and then integrating it with your own URL are two different steps. FreeYourID can help you if you find that geekish or simply too much hassle. It also makes OpenID […]

  6. AOL Picks Up OpenID on iface thoughts said:

    […] to be causing a lot of waves. AOL now supports OpenID. Every AOL/AIM user now automatically has a OpenID and Sam Ruby has already verified it. It is still not all the way I think, reading into John […]

  7. Wordpress.com Enables OpenID on iface thoughts said:

    […] this means is that the WordPress.com bloggers, about 750,000 at the time of this writing, are now OpenID enabled. They can use many services without having to remember any more username/password […]

  8. Vinod Ponmanadiyil said:

    I use my Blog address as the OpenID.

  9. Abhijit Nadgouda said:

    It is convenient, isn’t it!

  10. The CommentPower (SezWho) Solution on iface thoughts said:

    […] the same profile. An interesting thought currently in my mind is integration of CommentPower and OpenID, but it is just a thought […]

  11. Facebook To Turn Its Face The Other Way | iface thoughts said:

    […] it good? Will it work? You never know. Maybe Facebook should start supporting OpenID. But maybe this might start off a new trend, making an about turn from the […]

  12. France’s Orange Will Provide OpenID | iface thoughts said:

    […] Recordon liveblogs from Digital ID World to inform that Orange SA is providing OpenID to all its subscribers, about 40 million or so. We have seen AOL do the same thing. […]

  13. oAuth Brings Open Authentication | iface thoughts said:

    […] have been using and seeing advantages of OpenID. It has seen its share of criticism, and a lot of it comes from the fact that OpenID is about […]

  14. Google Brings OpenID To Blogger | iface thoughts said:

    […] your Yahoo! account. Do not get discouraged if you have a self-hosted blog, it is quite easy to use it as your OpenID […]

  15. Debashish said:

    For those who would like to learn about Open ID in Hindi, our blogzine Nirantar had published a primer on the subject in Dec 2006. The URL is http://www.nirantar.org/1206/nidhi/openid.

  16. Abhijit Nadgouda said:

    Thanks for the link Debashish.

  17. OPEN GIGA said:

    Informative post and thanks once again to share with us.

  18. OpenID « Kids Digital World - Exploring didactics in Social Informatics and distance learning said:

    […] OpenID is described as “an open, decentralized, free framework for user-centric digital identity. OpenID starts with the concept that anyone can identify themselves on the Internet the same way websites do-with a URI (also called a URL or web address). Since URIs are at the very core of Web architecture, they provide a solid foundation for user-centric identity.” (Source: ifacethoughts) […]


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Abhijit Nadgouda
iface Consulting
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