I just read a post by Scott Hadfield titled Why OpenID will fail. Now, his post title seems a little better crafted than mine to generate some interest and some links, but predicting the flaming demise of OpenID it’s not really the point of the post. Scott says that of all the arguments that he’s hearing about this technology failing, the only problem that has much validity is that “People don’t understand OpenID or the problem it is trying to solve”.
This may well be an issue, and something that should probably get some airtime. How do you explain it to Scott Hanselman’s Mom? Scott did a podcast about OpenID that I thought did a good job of describing what’s going on, and there’s a nice simple description of How to turn your blog into an OpenID by Simon Willison. Both of these pieces seem useful for understanding the technology, and to a certain extent framing the problem in understandable “plain english”. Still, Scott Hadfield may have a point worth considering, which is, do people get it? Are we doing enough to explain the why, not just the how?
Up until now, I’ve kind of just assumed that everyone would know how much of a mess authentication and identity is on the web. Almost everyone that uses the web has to deal with it every day. The need seems obvious. The thing is, we should be doing a lot better at listening to what ordinary web users find frustrating, and make a big deal about the fact that we finally have a solution and it will make everyone’s life easier.
So, what is the point of OpenID?