Yes, it has been too long since we last posted!Â In the meantime, ClaimID has grown steadily, we’ve optimized a bunch of code so that the site should be much faster, and we’re looking at new ways to improve the site.Â To that extent, we are considering two things.Â The first is finding some better solution for our OpenID service.Â There are a number of third parties who do the checkboxes -and-security stuff better than we do.Â Delegating OpenID authentication to a third party might be a nice solution for our users.Â We are also considering a pay model for ClaimID – something like 12 dollars for a two-year membership.Â We would still provide OpenID’s for free, but we would charge for value-adds like link resume and caching, etc.Â Of course, all users with existing accounts would be grandfathered in with free accounts – this would only apply to new users (and OpenID’s would always be free for all users).Â Unfortunately, running ClaimID is not cheap, so we’re going to strive for a model that is both sustainable and secure.Â None of this is written in stone, so we’re very open to feedback!
Internet Identity Workshop, the bi-yearly identity open space, will be held December 3-5 2007 at Mountain View’s Computer History Museum. Organized by Phil Windley, Kaliya Hamlin and Doc Searls, these are (in our opinion) some of the most important and positive meetings for the identity community.
ClaimID will be attending (represented by Terrell), and this marks the first year we’ll be sponsoring the IIW. We’ve seen the impact of these wonderful meetings, and we wanted to do what we can to help move them forward. As we are a wee company, there’s still a lot of sponsorship need – so please consider sponsoring the IIW.
We look forward to seeing you in Mountain View in December!
Managing Your Identity Online – 10/15/2007 – netConnect – The article is about online identity and claimID with a sidebar on OpenID. The article breaks down into the following sections (brief excerpts are provided).
- Introduction to claimID and online identity
A new breed of web services have started providing ordinary web users with the tools they need to take back control of their online identity.
- Permanent information online
However, with the rising popularity of blogging and the explosion of social networking sites such as Friendster and MySpace, googling potential employees quickly became commonplace. Stutzman and Russell recognized that, while particular services such as MySpace may come and go (see â€œMy Space or Your Space,â€ LJ netConnect, Fall 2006. p. 8â€“12), social web services are here to stay. More important, a whole generation is destined to scatter personal and professional information around the web for the rest of their lives.
- Who are you?
If your name is John Smith and someone googles you, itâ€™s not unlikely that the googler can mistakenly think certain information discovered (divorce, etc.) is yours. Wouldnâ€™t it be helpful if there were a method to explain which John Smith you are?
- Taking control
In the claimID FAQ, Stutzman and Russell explain that they embraced â€œsimplicity and standardsâ€ when designing the concept. The common thread connecting all the online identity signifiers together is that they all have a web address. Consequently, they decided the simplest way to manage an online identity was by enabling users to create a list of web addresses related to their identity.
- Standards for identity
Once Stutzman and Russell had enabled users to create and sort an annotated list of web sites related to their identity, they turned to emerging identity standards to add additional value to the list. They first implemented MicroID, an open standard that provides a way to verify that the person who owns a claimID profile also â€œownsâ€ the content to which they are linking.
As students in an Information and Library Science program, its always awesome when we are recognized inside the profession. Thanks to Michael for putting together a great article. Read the full version here.
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The OpenID Foundation is pleased to announce today that it has awarded three code bounties, $5000 each, to Drupal, Plone and dotnetnuke. The announcement was made today during the State of Lightning Talks at the Oâ€™Reilly Open Source Conference here in Portland, OR.
The bounty program was announced last year at OSCON â€˜06. The bounty is on-going with 7 more bounties to be claimed. These awards come on the heels of the creation of the OpenID Foundation which is aimed at helping fostering the work of the OpenID community.
For more information about the bounty program and how you can participate, head on over to http://iwantmyopenid.org/bounty.
Great work to all on pushing OpenID forward.
Information Week’s Nick Hoover has penned a thoughtful article on the challenges of online reputation, and you can read the Slashdot coverage here.Â ClaimID is featured in the article, alongside a number of web and identity luminaries such as Jimmy Wales, David Recordon and Kim Cameron.Â The article is a thoughtful treatment of the very challenging problem we’re collectively trying to solve.Â Without a question, identity and reputation are two long-term, large-scale challenges.Â We’re excited to have come as far as we have, and we look forward to continued work and innovation in the area.
We’ve got a busy week ahead!Â Team ClaimID will be hanging out at the Internet Identity Workshop – say hello if you’ll be there!
Yesterday, the announcement that Sun would offer “trusted” OpenID’s to its employee network has created a bit of buzz around the identity blogosphere. To break it down a little, two particularly interesting points emerged. First was simply the idea that Sun would support and offer OpenID’s was noteworthy – they stand with Microsoft and AOL as large vendors embracing OpenID in one way or another. Second was the assertion of a trusted OpenID space. As Tim Bray wrote:
Whatâ€™s more interesting is that weâ€™re rolling out an OpenID provider, but with a twist: You canâ€™t get an OpenID there unless youâ€™re a Sun employee, and if someone offers an OpenID whose URI is there, and it authenticates, you can be really sure that theyâ€™re a Sun employee. It doesnâ€™t tell you their name or address or anything else; thatâ€™s up to the individual to provide (or not).
The applications are obvious; if anyone wants to offer deals or special treatment online to Sun employees, well, thatâ€™s easy now. (I know of at least one company named after a fruit whose online store offers a nice Sun employee discount based on knowing a â€œsecretâ€ URL; this would have to be a much better alternative).
Still, I like that Sunâ€™s taking OpenID seriously. Ignore the employee status as URL issue and just concentrate on the asserted strength of the authentication process, if you like. Even so, there are still some flies in the ointment.
- First, how do we know this is true, except that Tim says it?
- More importantly, how does a machine know itâ€™s true?
- How do we avoid huge whitelists of machines whoâ€™s OpenIDs we trust (or blacklists of machines we donâ€™t)?
While a number of individuals took umbrage at some of the language and assumptions Bray made in his post, JanRain CTO Michael Graves ultimately sees it as a positive event.
At any rate, itâ€™s worth noting here that Sunâ€™s announcement is proof positive that solutions to big problems often start out small (see Timâ€™s closing line of his post). Sunâ€™s deployment of openid.sun.com isnâ€™t a silver bullet for the problems of internet identity â€” not by a long shot â€” but this is a practical, simple step forward that, embraced widely by other organizations, will effect long-sought improvements in trust and trust and identity as building blocks for network applications.
I see this as a positive as well. When major vendors start adopting and running open-source, public domain projects like OpenID, there’s generally a halo effect. Of course, the politics of the project get more complex, but that’s to be expected. Ultimately, the challenges of enforcing and trusting domains seems a lot like some of the exceptions people raise to the MicroID standard, but with good policies, I believe its a solid direction. Certainly, one can imaging higher-ed institutions implementing something like what Sun has done, which is something I’d love to see.
The Wall Street Journal has written an article entitled You’re a Nobody Unless Your Name Googles Well. This front-page article has been syndicated to many newspapers around the country, causing substantial buzz. It reflects somewhat of a new reality – that your “search identity” is a resume of sorts. In fact, many employers place a large amount of credibility in search engine results, which is troubling as you don’t have presentational control over your search identity (or what people write about you).
There are a number of companies struggling with this problem currently, and ClaimID is one of them. Techcrunch profiled a number of identity search engines, and services like Reputation Defender can be retained to monitor your identity online. Put simply, there are a number of companies addressing the problem of identity from a number of different perspectives, and the market has not spoken in any particular direction.
Identity is one of the internet’s last great unsolved problems. The reason this is the case is not because of lack of effort, but of the sheer complexity of the problem. Identity search, for example, attempts to disambiguate name-based entities. Essentially, it attempts to tell one John Smith from another, an extremely difficult challenge (many Ph.D.’s have been written on this challenge), and the models we have work best in constrained environments, not the internet.
Beyond the problem of name-based entities, there’s another big problem with the net – the stuff you’ve done but your name doesn’t show up on. Sure, a search algorithm can do basic cocitation analysis to guess at stuff “related” to you, but it won’t find a good deal of the stuff you’ve done, nor will it understand the relationship. The company you worked at, the project that you worked on that was written up in the newspaper that doesn’t mention your name…all of these things present identity search some very serious, potentially unsolvable problems. A computer would need to pass a turing test to fully address this problem – Bayesian models can only take us so far.
The approach that seems to be popular in identity search is a hybrid of search + claiming. Knowing that models will never fully disambiguate or find any one individual, the search engines allow individuals to claim related results, creating a dossier of sorts. Of course, this is the approach we’ve always taken in ClaimID – you know yourself, and we’re not going to try to design an algorithm that knows you better than you do.
Of course, part of me wants to believe that these companies can do it better. I want to see a company come along with an approach that is revolutionary, that promises real results. I believe that the challenges of managing search identity present the information sciences one of its greatest challenges over the next ten years. People need these solutions, and the market is not going to get smaller. But what exactly are the solutions people need?
Outside of the magic laser beam that erases links you hate and raises your favorite links to the top, I think we’ve got to take a reality based approach. Research and work on name-based entities will continue making the models better. Standards and open-source approaches are a must, as identity simply cannot be centralized. The market has proven this again and again. Identity must be decentralized. Finally, we must accept some realities. Largely, people will have their identity searches be mediated by Google. (Google sends a tremendous amount of identity search to ClaimID, with Yahoo search owning a very small part of our traffic.) People will also need trasportable, web-wide solutions. The idea of fixing identity in one place is fine, but what about the rest of the internet? For many, Google is the internet, so we’re just playing in their playground.
As you can see, there are some tremedous challenges in this sector. However, that’s what makes this sector exciting and interesting – its one of the last places on the net you can make real change that will make people’s lives better. And is there a better goal than that? It has certainly kept us motivated here at ClaimID. Ultimately, identity is a solvable problem. Major vendors like Google, IBM and Microsoft might have to start paying better attention, and upstarts certainly will contribute to the discussion. I look forward to the progress to be made in this sector…it will be interesting to watch over the next ten years.
In the past few months, we’ve been spending a lot of our time and energy on OpenID. While we love OpenID and think it is the future, most of you didn’t join ClaimID just because we provided OpenID. Our goal at ClaimID is to address the full picture of online identity, and we believe that your online identity starts with the links that are about you.
In the next few months, we’ll be walking through some of our pre-exsisting features, with a goal of letting more people know about them, and to provide a more robust documentation set for the features (killing two birds with one stone – brilliant!).
Today, we’re going to walk through “Link Status Checking.” The idea behind this feature is really simple – if there are links out there about you, you want to know when they change or go offline. For example – let’s say you’re pointing to a newspaper article, and that newspaper article disappears into the archives. You’d want to know about that and update your profile accordingly. Just as it is important to create a profile, it is important to know that your profile is up to date and valid. So we’ll do that work for you
How to enable link status checking:
To enable link status checking, edit your account settings, and enable the “Alert me if my claimed links go offline” option.
What it does:
Every day, our link status checking robot will go out and make sure all of your links are there. If they don’t show up for a period of time, we’ll send you an email that lets you know the link has gone offline. You can then take the appropriate action.
So here is an example of a link I pointed to where the hyperlink changed:
I had pointed to the Lyceum staff webpage, but that was moved. So ClaimID emailed me, let me know. I updated the link to point to the right location, silenced the alert, and my profile was back, as good as new. Of course I’m biased, but I think this is pretty cool. If employers are Googling you, you want to know what is out there about you, and what has gone offline.
Hope some of you give this feature a try. We’ll be highlighting more of these features in the upcoming weeks.
ClaimID has been spotted all over the globe recently. First, we were in story in one of our great local newspapers – The Independent. We’re really excited about this piece, as the Independent is one of our favorite newspapers.
Then we travel down to Australia for a bit, where we have been mentioned in two stories. The first is an identity management piece in The Age entitled Up Close and Personal in a Voyeurs Paradise, and the second is a piece in the Sydney Morning Herald entitled Your Life in the Public Domain.
On another note, Terrell and I will both be at SXSW, handing out our very cool buttons.Â Â Here, model Alex poses with a ClaimID button while mastering Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.Â We hope to see you there!