SHDH15 and OpenID

This DevHouse I spent working on an idea that has begun to taken shape in the blogosphere. The idea was to merge OpenID and microformats to manage your online identity. OpenID has a registration extension that stores commonly asked personal information such as full name, email address, date of birth, and time zone. I feel this information could also be used to consolidate your online identity in the form of an hCard on any OpenID-enabled site. Further, if you choose to update any of your personal information, you can change it in one location (your OpenID provider) and it can propagate to all OpenID consumer sites you use (depending on how those OpenID consumer sites are setup).

The problem is that some sites on the internet that implement hCards may contain inconsistent data. This proposed solution will allow sites to retrieve your information from one source. If someone wants to find your personal information, they can go to any site that has your hCard instead of having to find your authoritative hCard (this will be a topic of another blog post I’m sure).

Let’s take the OpenID-enabled site ma.gnolia for example. You can sign-in with OpenID and upon successful login, ma.gnolia can retrieve your personal information from your OpenID identity provider. From there it can turn the resulting information into an hCard microformat. Of course there would have to be some sort of control panel to determine which information gets displayed and which information to hide (such as email).

Now, essentially all I am doing is applying an existing protocol, but I wanted to bring awareness to the idea of using OpenID with the hCard microformat. I also wanted to bring attention to the idea of using OpenID as a way to centralize your personal identity so you have consistent personal information among sites.

The first step I took was to actually learn the entire OpenID protocol. I ended up not learning all of the protocol because I felt the documentation was insufficient. This brings up another project idea: document the OpenID protocol in plain English. It was fun learning as much as I did and learning how to implement it myself in PHP. It also gave a chance to learn/use the cURL library in PHP. Perhaps after I learn the protocol, I’ll use a library to make further development easier.

I spent the rest of my time socializing and meeting new people and talking to people met at previous DevHouses. Highlights include talking to Konstantin Koll about his OS that implements a WinFS-like file system, Jesse Andrews of Flock about the next big release of flock (which I eagerly await!), and Chris Moak about his new sleeping schedule and duct tape accessories.

The night was ended by going out to Dennys where we discussed what made this DevHouse a success and what can be done to improve it for next time.

Pictures can be found at:

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