Day 1 of the Internet Identity Workshop

Posted: October 1st, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Today kicked off the Internet Identity Workshop 2008b. I headed over to The Computer History Museum, just a mile from Google, after lunch. Slowly, the room began to fill with the giants of the identity world, those personas I’d only read about on the blogs.

I’ll give a short outline of the talks, but John McCrea has a post up with some great photos too.

Johannes Ernst of Net Mesh started off with an overview of the identity landscape. He did quite an admirable job of running throught the standard. Given all that’s happened recently (and over the past few years), an overview is getting harder and harder.

David Recordon followed up with a great talk on OpenID. Good overview, and one key thing I learned was how OpenID can support many ways to login–passwords, sitekeys, and information cards are all fair game.

Paul Madsen continued with a talk on SAML and Liberty, which though a bit over my head, was a good introduction to some standards I’d like to know more about.

We then got a killer overview of Information Cards by Charles Andres, exec director of the Information Cards Foundation. He talked a lot about trust and accountability, and I’d definitely like to know mroe about Information Cards, which are seeming more and more like a good solution to secure login and handling multiple identities online.

Then, it was time for Joseph Smarr to take the stage. I was really excited for his talk on The Open Stack, given that I’ve been watching lately and keeping up to date on his blog. He didn’t dissapoint, delivering a remarkably clear explanation of the emerging social stack built on OpenID, XRDS-Simple, OAuth, Portable Contacts, and OpenSocial. I’m further convinced that these are the building blocks of the social web, and it’s great to see that they’re already being used all over the place. As Joseph said, this isn’t just talk about the future anymore–this stuff is really happening. Plus, he was super nice at the dinner and bar later in the evening, encouraging myself and some others to try to go out and build simple implementations of this stuff and tell the community where the stumbling points are. I’d really encourage all to check out hisblog for more explanation of the open stack.

Doc Searls capped it off with an overivew of ‘vendor relationship management,’ something I know little about. This is being posited as a balancing weight to customer relationship management systems in order to give some power back to consumers. He says to look for some exciting VRM stuff to come out of NPR next year that will change the model of two week long pledge drives. I can’t wait.

We finished the formal part of the day in small groups discussing the question, “How do we get to the Big Bang of Identity.” Max Engel, one of the key MySpace identity guys was in my group, as was Paul Trevithick, who’s doing a lot of work with the Higgins project. One thing I never thought about was how obviously MySpace lends itself to being an OpenID provider. MySpace is one of the only places online where people really do think of their identities as URLs, e.g. They don’t have to deal with this confusion over URL identifiers as much as the rest of the ecosystem. Luckily, email addresses are being talked about as part of OpenID 2.1. We’ll see what happens with that.

Debate was spirited and soem of the suggestions that came out of the mini-session were:

  • UX is big
  • Most users don’t care yet
  • We’ll reach the big bang when 51% of sites only take OpenID, etc.
  • Decouple the underlying technology from the UX. This is about consumers, not technology
  • Solve more of a business problem than just identity
  • Start small and snowball to the big

Anyway, that’s a pretty vague list, but the stage has most certainly been set for the next two days.

We finished up the day at The Tied House in Mountain View, drinking and eating together. I met more people than I could possible name/remember, but I’d encourage everyone to check out I talked to one of it’s co-founders, Aaron, who had a lot of interesting stuff to say. I think there’s more to that company than may immediately meet the eye.

An exhausting and action packed day for sure. Can’t wait for the open session tomorrow, which conference organizer Kaliya (a.k.a. Identity Woman) explained to me over steak and beers. Most of all, I’ve been blown away by the openess of this community (no pun intended), and I’m excited to even have the chance to participate.

Until tomorrow…

P.S. You can follow my conference updates on my Twitter at