Sylvain Carle has a post on “distributed identity” today on his personal blog . As I noted last week in my Web 2.0 communities Trends post, “identity” is one of the key elements of Web 2.0 communities. Recent news (from the last few days in fact) shows that this a very hot topic. Facebook officially launched its Facebook Connect program (and its partnerships with Digg and Hulu), I’ve been playing with Google Friend Connect on Guillaume Thoreau’s blog, SixApart announced Typepad Connect, WordPress is quietly preparing Buddypress and the “open stack” with OpenID and oAuth is still out there as open options to those proprietary log-in systems.

What it means: controlling identity is one of the next big wars on the Web. Only sites/systems that have large install bases of users (Google, Yahoo, MSN, WordPress, SixApart, etc.) can hope to fight this battle. If you haven’t been collecting user information (like e-mail addresses), you will be dependent on these large identity networks. That’s not a bad thing though! This will allow you to jumpstart any initiative that requires your users to log-in. As long as users give you permission to access their data, you’re still ok. Main challenge: will users trust private companies will their identity information? Or will open standards triumph in the end? BTW, if you’re a media company and you’re still tied to a large ISP, you could be one of those big identity providers (even through OpenID). There’s still a play for you.

OpenID: An Introduction

March 11, 2008

As I stated in my last yearly predictions, I think 2008 will be the year of identity, where we start solving the problem of having to create (and remember) multiple username/passwords to access all the sites we visit. A panel yesterday morning at SXSW08 offered us a glimpse into what could be THE solution for solving this issue: OpenID.

openid_big_logo_text

What is OpenID?

  • A decentralized mechanism for SSO (single sign on) that tries to solved the username/password problem
  • It’s a URL (an identifier) – the OpenID protocol lets you prove you own the URL
  • Simple registration
  • You can read more about what is OpenID here.

Why OpenID?

  • Many people in the past have tried to solve the issue: Microsoft Password, TypeKey, Facebook
  • But SSO with a single controlling authority betrays the principle of the web

Yahoo! & OpenID

  • Yahoo is now an OpenID provider (has been since January)
  • It means you can log-in to OpenID-compatible sites using your Yahoo log-in information (the reverse is not true though).

How to implement OpenID?

What it means: I think the consensus is that OpenID as a technology is ready to go, but it still lacks “marketing” and “user-friendliness”. Companies including Clickpass are trying to address that problem. See today’s coverage on Techcrunch for more details. Expect this technology to make waves in the next 12 -18 months. My Praized partner, Sylvain, is already talking about organizing a OpenID DevCamp in Montreal. Anyone else interested?

Yesterday, I wrote about what I thought were the most important news in 2007 in the local and social media space. Today, I’d like to propose my 2008 predictions, an always interesting exercise.

  1. The year of Identity. One of the big challenges of social media is having to sign-up and add your friends in a multitude of web sites. Expect 2008 to be the year where this problem becomes a major issue and gets potentially solved through identity interoperability initiatives like OpenID.
  2. Social is now everywhere and open. The last few months of 2007 have set the stage for a very social 2008. Any new major initiatives will include social elements by default and will use existing standards like OpenSocial, DiSo or Facebook.
  3. Fragmentation & personalization of media. Given the lower barrier to entry for new local/social projects, user and advertiser fragmentation will continue to accelerate in 2008. From a user point of view, this will lead to new personalization tools allowing consumers to create their own unique media view.
  4. The year of ad networks. As a corollary of point #3 above, given that user fragmentation will accelerate, an increasingly large number of ad networks will pop-up to aggregate consumers into a critical advertising mass. It’s all about advertiser defragmentation. Directory publishers will want to become ad networks themselves to push their ads outside of their core destination sites in order to increase their total reach.
  5. Content wants to be distributed. That’s the second corollary of point #3. Increasing user fragmentation requires content producers to atomize their content and push it in the fabric of the web. Think of your business in terms of content units or atoms (some inspiration came from Clay Shirky’s “fame vs. fortune” post from 2003).
  6. Social graph-based search. I am now a firm believer that social graph-based search will be the future of search (including local search) and we will see this concept gain some tractions in 2008. I think humans will always trust recommendations and advice from people in their “social network” (friends, family, colleagues, known experts, etc.) more than a machine. Online word-of-mouth is the biggest local search opportunity out there.
  7. More M&A activity in local. 2007 was quite active from a local M&A (Idearc buying Infospace’s directory business, Citysearch/InsiderPages, AT&T/Ingenio, Marchex/Voicestar, etc.) but I expect 2008 to be even more active given i) the need for directory publishers to execute on their strategies and ii) the need to aggregate traffic to increase advertiser ROI.
  8. Mobile: the year before the big bang. 2008 will be the year where a solid mobile development base (open devices, networks, platforms) is established leading to an explosion in 2009. Watch for the Google spectrum bid in January.

Yesterday, I wrote about what I thought were the most important news in 2007 in the local and social media space. Today, I’d like to propose my 2008 predictions, an always interesting exercise.

  1. The year of Identity. One of the big challenges of social media is having to sign-up and add your friends in a multitude of web sites. Expect 2008 to be the year where this problem becomes a major issue and gets potentially solved through identity interoperability initiatives like OpenID.
  2. Social is now everywhere and open. The last few months of 2007 have set the stage for a very social 2008. Any new major initiatives will include social elements by default and will use existing standards like OpenSocial, DiSo or Facebook.
  3. Fragmentation & personalization of media. Given the lower barrier to entry for new local/social projects, user and advertiser fragmentation will continue to accelerate in 2008. From a user point of view, this will lead to new personalization tools allowing consumers to create their own unique media view.
  4. The year of ad networks. As a corollary of point #3 above, given that user fragmentation will accelerate, an increasingly large number of ad networks will pop-up to aggregate consumers into a critical advertising mass. It’s all about advertiser defragmentation. Directory publishers will want to become ad networks themselves to push their ads outside of their core destination sites in order to increase their total reach.
  5. Content wants to be distributed. That’s the second corollary of point #3. Increasing user fragmentation requires content producers to atomize their content and push it in the fabric of the web. Think of your business in terms of content units or atoms (some inspiration came from Clay Shirky’s “fame vs. fortune” post from 2003).
  6. Social graph-based search. I am now a firm believer that social graph-based search will be the future of search (including local search) and we will see this concept gain some tractions in 2008. I think humans will always trust recommendations and advice from people in their “social network” (friends, family, colleagues, known experts, etc.) more than a machine. Online word-of-mouth is the biggest local search opportunity out there.
  7. More M&A activity in local. 2007 was quite active from a local M&A (Idearc buying Infospace’s directory business, Citysearch/InsiderPages, AT&T/Ingenio, Marchex/Voicestar, etc.) but I expect 2008 to be even more active given i) the need for directory publishers to execute on their strategies and ii) the need to aggregate traffic to increase advertiser ROI.
  8. Mobile: the year before the big bang. 2008 will be the year where a solid mobile development base (open devices, networks, platforms) is established leading to an explosion in 2009. Watch for the Google spectrum bid in January.

TechCrunch reports on a secret meeting that happened at Google in the last few days. It looks like Google is about to “out open” Facebook by allowing developers to leverage Google’s social graph information.

The short version: Google will announce a new set of APIs on November 5 that will allow developers to leverage Google’s social graph data. They’ll start with Orkut and iGoogle (Google’s personalized home page), and expand from there to include Gmail, Google Talk and other Google services over time.

On November 5 we’ll likely see third party iGoogle gadgets that leverage Orkut’s social graph information – the most basic implementation of what Google is planning. From there we may see a lot more – such as the ability to pull Orkut data outside of Google and into third party applications via the APIs. And Google is also considering allowing third parties to join the party at the other end of the platform – meaning other social networks (think Bebo, Friendster, Twitter, Digg and thousands of others) to give access to their user data to developers through those same APIs.

And that is a potentially killer strategy. Facebook has a platform to allow third parties to build applications on Facebook itself. But what Google may be planning is significantly more open – allowing third parties to both push and pull data, into and out of Google and non-Google applications.

That big rumor comes on the heels of another big announcement from Six Apart about open sourcing the Web’s social graph (a la OpenID). If you thought the Web was fragmented, wait until you can start building application on top of Google, Yahoo or MSN’s social graphs…

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