ingle signon is the ability to authenticate once and then have access to all your computer system. In the chaotic world of the internet, with so many individual sites with different owners, one tends to login multiple times a day. OpenID is a concept from the Open Source movement to simplify this process. It is still in its infancy, and there are a few issues, the single biggest one for me is that I cannot get it to work.
___Every day I travel the internet, using multiple web applications as the need arises. I visit many blog sites, read and possibly comment. There are social networking apps, email and others, but nothing to outlandish. Signing on to all these applications is pretty repetitive. The idea of single signon for the internet has great appeal if it would take some of the work out of web authentication.
___OpenID is very well documented, though each authenticator provides you with a URL that is a little different. Interestingly, some of the more progressive sites use your existing ID as your OpenID ID, making the use of OpenID very convenient. For me my WordPress and coComment sites have enabled OpenID and can be used as authenticators.
___Here’s how I think it works. You sign in to one of your common applications, such as WordPress. Then you use a URL associated with your WordPress account, such as http://USER.wordpress.com to authenticate to other websites. I’ll use http://dontai.wordpress.com. For example, you find a blog that accepts OpenID. When it asks you to login, you will see the OpenID logo. It will provide you with a box to put in your OpenID authenticator. You will type in, for example “http://dontai.wordpress.com”. The screen will link to WordPress.com, which you are still logged into, who will ask you if this is Ok. Once you say yes, then you should be authenticated.
___So that’s the theory. I have tried WordPress.com as my authenticator against the blog SHE in China and it worked, but since I’ve moved my blog to http://www.dontai.com/wp/ the incorrect URL shows up in my hotlinked name. Still, I was authenticated. I also tried authenticating to coComment using my WordPress OpenID and failed.
___Technorati, the blog aggregator, is also an OpenID authenticator. Just as simple, you login to your Technorati account. The authenticating URL is http://technorati.com/people/technorati/USERNAME, where USERNAME is of course, your name. Mine is, unsurprisingly, dontai. Using Technorati as an authenticator, I was able to authenticate to neither “SHE in China” nor coComment. Here are some instructions I found on Technorati (thanks to Mr. Google) on how to use their OpenID authentication. At least he has successfully used OpenID.
___What is true is that using WordPress as an authenticator worked once. I’ll have to test out other web sites to see if this is also true for non-blog sites. I’ve not yet been able to use Technorati as an authenticator, so more testing needs to be done there.
___Has this saved me time? Well, no, not really. The very act of typing in your authenticator is about the same as typing in your ID and password. Most of the sites I visit do not yet support OpenID. Even more interesting is that some sites seem to only support specific authenticators, a very problematic trend for any emerging web technology, where speaking with a forked tongue is a disaster.
___If I can get OpenID to work and the web adopts it, managing user IDs would get a whole lot easier in that you would need to manage only your authenticator site’s password. This in contrast to the 20 or so passwords I currently manage. Our brains should be occupied with more interesting issues than remembering one of your 20 passwords.
___Do you think a tools can help me remember my passwords?