OpenID Is Not a Provisioning Engine

Will Norris, Weblog, Nov 01, 2007
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Having a single login ID is one thing. Having attributes - such as an email address, or list of friends - that you transfer from one site to another is quite another. I have always thought that it would simply be a FOAF file derived from the login ID - that's one of the reasons why I made them URLs, and not, say, unique identifiers. If a user logged in as '' then their attributes should be found in ''. But OpenID does it as a request-response style interaction. That's way too much overhead for something so simple. I think that the reason this hasn't prevailed is that people want to control who gets what attribute. My response to this is: have different identities. That's why mIDm proposed to put them in a dropdown list in the browser. This is - eventually - where we'll end up. Unless the large companies pull a Microsoft and create an obfuscated system nobody can write code for.
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