Sunday, August 27, 2006


Google Authentication vs. OpenID

In the last two entries, the usefulness of Edgar Cahn's social operating system analogy was recognized: Money is like a computer program that operates on top of this OS which is composed of family, neighborhood and community. Money is also like a rootkit in that it replaces components of this OS by annexing trust. The evolution of money and its shared dependencies with other code, like religion and law, was described.

Let's consider money and the social operating system. Just like software development, the development of money can be decentralized or centralized. Centralization requires gatekeepers.

Our money became centralized through the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. However, we should not forget that the first attempt at centralization failed. Paul Warburg met Republican Senator Nelson Aldrich in 1908. After failure during the Taft administration, Warburg and friends split the Republican vote in 1912 by funding Roosevelt so that Wilson could win. After the original failure, this power play, by necessity, was executed in secrecy.

Now let's switch to the web. As we know, in a similar way, Microsoft clumsily attempted to centralize identity on the web with Passport. They failed because they didn't realize what Google has. If you build a bunch of compelling applications for people to use and tie all of them to a central authentication service, then people will have accepted your scheme by default. Google is making this power play in secrecy. Shel Israel notes this secrecy in his blog and in a comment to Chris Messina's excellent post:
What really bothers me is that I never see anyone from Google joining these discussions.
At Barcamp Texas, during his talk, Matt Mullenweg, founder of Wordpress, acknowledged the near impossibility of integrating applications because each uses a different authentication system. I asked what he thinks about decentralized identity solutions like OpenID. He said that it seems like there's not enough incentive for players (like Wordpress) to cooperate.

If all the players pursue their own interest, then all of them except one will lose. That one will make the decision for them and will decide how and when applications exchange information.

I think your blog topics are impacting your dating potential.

I could be wrong....

By the way, what are you doing to celebrate your birthday this year?
I will be in Houston. Cake soup.
Mmmm... I wish someone would make me cake soup. Save me a piece...errr..lump, ok?
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