I haven’t posted about OpenID in some time. Not surprising, considering the weight I’ve had to give to DRM, indie music, and related business, because of things like this occuring on a more-than-daily basis in recent weeks. Anyway, there’s some big news in the area of decentralized identification systems. Now, not only has Microsoft stepped up to the plate and embraced the OpenID system, but AOL has followed suit.

What this means in practice is that people with AOL and AIM accounts could use their user information to login to other OpenID sites or applications (such as Livejournal, Zooomr, ma.gnolia, claimid, and Firefox). If OpenID were widely adopted, identification and authentication processes all over the web could be radically streamlined. Still, with the current arrangements, AOL’s own services do not accept credentials from other OpenID providers. In other words, for the time being, your AOL/AIM ID becomes your OpenID.

While this “me first” approach by AOL is unsurprising (and unhelpful to the broader project of simplifying authentication on the web), the addition of AOL to the growing list of businesses getting into the game indicates that OpenID is going to stick around a while. Of course, the litmus test would be a myspace or (gasp) paypal partnership. But Paypal (like Google) seems content to tie authentication to email addresses and mobile phone numbers (a strategy which might eventually outpace open initiatives like this).

Still, we’re nowhere near what I consider the holy grail of web identity management, which would entail multiple modalities of online user identity – a need which our current kludgy system of multiple accounts on mulitiple platforms already satisfies. I, like you, have many faces, and I want to tidy them up and configure them for presentation to interested audiences, who don’t all agree with each other, and probably wouldn’t get along if put in the same room. Perhaps looking at the problem in the way that Microsoft does provides some clues as to how we can get there? Wait – did I just say “Microsoft”?

As an unrelated aside (or perhaps to prove a point – those interested in what I have to say about music or OpenID might be union h8ers) – here’s why people should stop caring what Steve Jobs thinks (as if we needed a computer company CEO to tell us that DRM is bad in the first place). What a moron. Of what value is Jobs’ uninformed drivel about the value of unions? This is corporate media at its worst: giving privileged column inches to a celebrity speaking on a subject about which he is too blinded by his own corporate objectives to even care that he sounds like an imbecile.

Weird, I’m all like “PC Guy”, dissing the “Mac guy” today.

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