When it comes to modern day web use, you may have noticed a rising trend during the past few years. You have a plethora of passwords to remember.
The root causes of this trend are simple enough to understand thanks to the proliferation of SaaS and cloud computing, but the quest to find a solution to password management and single sign-on has ignited one of the biggest battles for the web since the first days of the browser wars.
What is so important about password management on the web and why should anyone care?
This battle is about much more than passwords. It is about identity. As the web continues to become more and more social, your digital identity becomes more and more important for you to recognize. And it also becomes incredibly more valuable to businesses that are constantly vying for your data.
“My data” you ask?
Yes, your digital self is nothing more than data and it is chock full of information that businesses crave for for, collect, and archive as if the world may be ending tomorrow. Things like who your Facebook and MySpace friends are, your online shopping habits, your Twitter followers and tweets, your web browsing trends, your public conversations online, your profile information, the list goes on.
In fact, the growing trend of startups lately has been “just accumulate user data, patterns, and trends and worry about making money later.” An unnerving thought perhaps, but this is the way of things on the web and it has proved to be highly profitable.
Now try to imagine if there was one super identity that one business controlled for you. And this one identity granted you access to just about anything on the web that required a password – including access to other businesses and services. If profitability and success in today’s web is all about user data, imagine the power this one identity would wield for the one business that controlled it.
Right now that business is Facebook.
Undoubtedly you have seen Facebook connect on growing number of web sites and web services, including here on BTECHA and on such high profile sites as CNN.com and NBC.com. But you can bet your house (if it hasn’t been foreclosed on yet) that Google, Amazon, Twitter, and a whole army of others will not let Facebook win this fight.
Included in that list of others is OpenID. The reason you may have not yet heard of Open ID is because they are a non-profit foundation self-described as an “organization of individuals and companies committed to enabling, promoting and protecting OpenID technologies.”
In other words, individuals and companies that recognize the dangers and competitive nightmares of a single business holding your master identity. And they have been forced to form the fellowship of the ID.
Yet with Facebook so far ahead of them right now, their quest may be as challenging as that of Tolkien’s Frodo. The fate of everyone’s identity on the world wide web is the technology battle of the new decade ahead. And the stakes are enormous.
UPDATE: As predicted in January when this post was first written, the battle has begun. Here are more recent articles from this month (April, 2010)
- Xauth: The Open Web Fires a Shot Against Facebook Connect – ReadWriteWeb.com
- I Think Facebook Just Seized Control of The Internet – Techcrunch.com
- Google’s nightmare: Facebook ‘Like’ replaces links – CNN.com