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.