OpenID vs. i-names


It’s the season of political campaigns. And in this season, the vernacular of campaigning begin to swell into other areas- with front runners, presumptive nominees, comeback winners, and so forth.

For instance, we’ve learned recently the HD-DVD has dropped out of the HD format war; Blu-Ray is declared the apparent victor.

Well, in this same spirit, Paul at In Context analyzes the standards campaigning in the digital public identifier area, which at this point can be reduced to i-name vs. OpenID. In short, he finds that OpenID is not only running a better campaign, but really offers a better value:

OpenIDs offer something to people that i-cards don’t. Even run of the mill, freebie, URL-based OpenIDs give you a public identifier that you feel like you own. And the i-name flavor of OpenIDs give you a public identifier that you really do own cuz you’re not locked in to a particular OpenID provider.

OpenID is the winning, lightweight, technology for public, low-value transactions.

  • Why winning? The OpenID community blended together the three competing lightweight technologies (LID, OpenID, and i-names) into a unified specification, community, code, and foundation.
  • Why public? Because the appealing notion of having OpenID URI that’s mine (e.g. “=paul.trevithick”) also has the side-effect of projecting the same identifier to every relying site allowing me to be easily tracked. To be fair, there is a “directed identity” feature of OpenID that I can use to prevent this–I can just type in the URI of my OpenID OP instead. But I still think the perception is that an OpenID is mostly public.
  • Why low-value? Because its simple and lightweight architecture does not incorporate a client component, end-to-end crypto, anti-phishing protection, etc. necessary to support higher value transactions and other privacy-enhancing features. But its great for logging in to blogs, etc.

Now, if OpenID does become the de factor public identifier, i-names would be an apt potential running mate.


3 responses to “OpenID vs. i-names

  1. Running mate? Personally I’ve never seen a real use for i-name in OpenID, particularly since the average cost of a “true” DNS name is somewhere around $10 per annum, which is quite reasonable for personal identification and is great because you can use it for OpenID (via delegation to whatever provider you choose) and all of those “traditional” services such as web, ftp, ssh, what-have-you… I do think that my OpenID of “” (currently delegating to Trustbearer) is preferable to any of the “=whatever” things.

    XRI has always seemed to me like a solution in need of a real problem. It’s basically a URN replacement, but the reason they seek to replace URN is because, well, nobody uses URN! I’ve still yet to see a real use for XRI in general.

  2. Well, maybe I was being too gracious.

  3. :-) I was more weirded out about the original poster that didn’t appear to realize that OpenID delegation works for “real webpages” as well as i-names…

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