Tag Archives: josephsmarr

Photo-Blogging Day Two of the Internet Identity Workshop

It’s Day Two of the Internet Identity Workshop. There’s a lot of important work being done, work that will have deep impact on our Internet experience. So I thought someone should capture some images for posterity. I love that the event is taking place at the Computer History Museum. We also shot an episode of The Social Web TV here this morning, which should go live tomorrow morning.

Here are my photos from Day Two:

IIW Unconference Schedule

IIW Sign

Joseph Smarr Session on Portable Contacts

Joseph Smarr Session on Portable Contacts

Eran Hammer Session at IIW

A Fun Notation System?

Session at IIW

Session at IIW

From IIW (Internet Identity Workshop)

From IIW (Internet Identity Workshop)

From IIW (Internet Identity Workshop)

The Babbage Difference Engine

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Kicking Off the Internet Identity Workshop

It’s Day One of the Internet Identity Workshop, a semi-annual gathering of the thought leaders in the online identity space. This grass-roots event, which has been around for three years, now finds itself at the center of a space that is really heating up, with big mainstream Internet players like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, MySpace, and Facebook, all racing to outdo each other as identity providers.

Among the talks:

David Recordon (of SixApart, the OpenID Foundation, and the Open Web Foundation) had a great talk on OpenID and the great progress being made, with mainstream adoption in the U.S. and Japan, in particular. Not surprisingly, there will be lots of sessions on OpenID over the next three days, talking about a variety proposed extensions. Given all the recent announcements (Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, and MySpace), this is really OpenID’s time to shine. I took a few photos to capture the moment.

Photos from David Recordon’s talk:

David Recordon at IIW2008b

David Recordon at IIW2008b

David Recordon at IIW2008b

David Recordon at IIW2008b

Interesting talks on SAML and Information Cards, two topics I don’t know very much about. SAML is more on the enterprise side of identity. Information Cards seeks to span both the enterprise and consumer Internet space. Information Cards has a focus on verifiable claims, like “Joe Smith is over 21”.

Oh, and I snapped a fun shot of MySpace’s MAx Engel, who was at the back of the room, getting his laptop juiced, and working with totally casual posture. Max is doing great stuff to bring the Open Stack to life at MySpace.

Max Engel of MySpace at IIW

Joseph Smarr of Plaxo just gave another great talk, this one on the “Open Stack” and how it is greater than the sum of its parts. The PowerPoint can be downloaded
here. Joseph demoed the combo of OpenID, OAuth, Portable Contacts, and XRDS-Simple. And he shared screenshots of a Portable Contacts app for Android. Way cool!

A New Open Stack is Emerging

Here are some photos of his talk.

Joseph Smarr on the Open Stack

Joseph Smarr on the Open Stack

Joseph Smarr on the Open Stack

Joseph Smarr on the Open Stack

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Live-Blogging Joseph Smarr’s Talk at the Widget Summit

WidgetSummit08 Cover Slide

I’m up in San Francisco for the Widget Summit, live-blogging a talk by Plaxo’s Joseph Smarr, entitled “The Widgets Shall Inherit the Web.” You can download the Powerpoint here. (Joseph will also upload to SlideShare later.) Talk is starting now..

“There’s a fundamental transition going on, as fundamental as the birth of the Web. The Web is going social, and the Social Web is going open.”

Widget authors: you’re ahead of your time! Widgets thrive in an environment with users, data, social graph, and activity. But, widget have had to live where the data is, inside existing social networks. But soon, the data will come to you, thanks to the “Open Stack”. Widgets are about to be turbocharged “by several orders of magnitude”

Lots of social sites.

Lots of open “building blocks” (OpenID, OpenSocial, OAuth…)

How do the pieces fit together? And what will the Social Web look like?

The social web is broken today. On each site, we have to do the same dance. Create account, enter profile data, upload photo, etc. Currently, social apps have limited options.

New building blocks establish who I am, who I know, and what’s going on

Joseph Smarr at Widget Summit

Who I am. Create a portable, durable online identity. Key technology: OpenID. Key standard gaining real traction and momentum. Showing the Plaxo sign-up page with support for OpenID, including special support for Yahoo OpenID and Google OpenID. Showing JanRain’s MyOpenID with pre-fill of info during onboarding. Faster registration, fewer lost passwords. Good for Plaxo, good for user, and good for Identity Provider. Joseph listing off the major providers: Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, AOL, and (soon) MySpace. “Now is the time to get on board.” “Registration flows historically have high dropoff rates.

Joseph now talking about rel=me (XFN) microformat…

Showing “me on the web,” the trace of publicly-asserted linkages between his blog, and his profile on lots of different services, traced via Google’s social graph API. Showing how is Plaxo you can use that data to lower the friction for letting a user declare the sites they use so they can easily set up feeds. And the loop continues; Plaxo public profile pages can include “you on the web” and it’s marked up in microformats, consumable on other websites.

Now showing the same stuff for a personal blog. Example is David Recordon of SixApart.

Who I know

Tap into the real relationships via Contact APIs from existing address books, typically webmail. Scraping has been the norm, but clearly not good from a security standpoint. Now there are real Contacts APIs from Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google, and that’s great.

Of course, that data is not public, so you need a way to grant access to it securely, which brings us to OAuth. “How do I let users grant access to their data without giving up their passwords to third-parties?” Each of the big players created their own unique, proprietary auth technology, which led to a lot of developer pain. So the big players are now shifting over to OAuth, an open spec approach to the problem. But one-time import is not as good as continuous discovery, which brings us to the concept of friends-list portability.

Showing nice integration between Flickr and Google. “If you haven’t done it, check out import on Flickr. You’ll be surprised.” Now on to Dopplr.

What’s going on

The last piece is the rich context of what the people you know are doing online. Now to OpenSocial, that let’s you build social apps that can run (almost) anywhere. Showing the original integration on Plaxo. “What’s really cool is the sharing of the activity stream into the feed.” “OpenSocial has gone mainstream, big time.” Showing graph of number of users (reaching to something like 500 million, I think.)

Now RSS/Atom. “Syndicate your activity”. Giving example of recent Netflix API which has Atom feeds of Netflix ratings, protected behind OAuth, which Joseph integrated in Plaxo. Now Jabber/XMPP for “real-time update stream between sites”. Example: Twitter integration in Plaxo.

“If you’re a big site, folks might do a custom integration, but if you’re a small site, be on the lookout for open standards that you can draft off of.”

Joseph Smarr at Widget Summit

Now, to pull it all together.

The user is at the center. Then all around, socially-aware sites of the Web. In the middle? A new services layer, with Identity Providers; Social Graph Providers; and Content Aggregators. (My editorial add: Some companies may focus on one or two of the layers, but the brass ring is the triple play.) Joseph now saying his version of that, and pointing out what Facebook, Yahoo, and others are up.

Now, a day in the life of the Social Web

Using me as an example, checking out a microbrew enthusiast site. I use my OpenID to onboard. I write a review, and it flows to my aggregator of choice. Joseph discovers it and joins the site to. All part of a “virtuous cycle.” This is just like the virtuous cycle that gave birth to the Web. More sites lead to more people downloading a browser, which leads to more people making websites. Repeat. It’s the same now, but to make it happen, the data must be able to flow. “Open” is the breakthrough.

Returning to “Who I know”…

“Something I glossed over.” How does friends-list portability actually work? Discovery via XRDS-Simple.

As with auth, all the big guys came up with their own Contacts APIs. Now, we’re moving to Portable Contacts. More info here.

“What’s cool is that we worked with the OpenSocial community to align Portable Contacts with the OpenSocial RESTful APIs, so you’ll get support for Portable Contacts for free from any site that is OpenSocial RESTful APIs.”

There’s now a clear vision, shared by Facebook Connect, MySpace Data Availability, Yahoo Y!OS, Google Friend Connect, and Plaxo Pulse: Identity Providers; Social Graph Providers; Content Aggregators.

“What’s even cooler? Almost everyone is building on the new Open Stack. And it’s not hard to imagine Facebook joining this movement, too.”

MostBuildingOnOpenStack

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Dare to be Open?

This week, influential blogger (and Microsoft employee) Dare Obasanjo kicked up a little controversy with a post he did on Portable Contacts, entitled The Portable Contacts API: Killing the Password Anti-Pattern Once and For All. It is a largely positive piece, making the case for why Portable Contacts makes sense:

The…problem…is that each site that provides an address book or social graph API is reinventing the wheel both with regards to the delegated auth model they implement and the actual API for retrieving a user’s contacts. This means that social networking sites that want to implement a contact import feature have to support a different API and delegated authorization model for each service they want to talk to even though each API and delegated auth model effectively does the same thing.

However, the piece closes with a critique of the process by which Portable Contacts and other open-spec building block are coming into existence:

If anything, I’m concerned by the growing number of interdependent specs that seem poised to have a significant impact on the Web and yet are being defined outside of formal standards bodies in closed processes funded by big companies. For example, about half of the references in the Portable Contacts API specs are to IETF RFCs while the other half are to specs primarily authored by Google and Yahoo! employees outside of any standards body (OpenSocial, OAuth, OpenSearch, XRDS-Simple, etc).

The Gillmor Gang responded by having Chris Messina, one of the key players in the open-spec movement, on as a special guest.

Not surprisingly, we waded in, too, on our weekly show, The Social Web TV. We brought on special guest, Kaliya Hamlin, a.k.a. “Identity Woman,” a facilitator of the open process and key events, like the upcoming Internet Identity Workshop. In the episode, we make sure to point out the positive involvement of Microsoft in the open process to develop the Portable Contacts API. Check it out:

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Discussing the New API from Netflix

In this week’s episode of The Social Web TV, we discuss the new Netflix API with Michael Hart, director of community engineering for Netflix. If you’re interested in this topic, you should also check out Joseph Smarr’s “Step-by-Step Guide to Using the Netflix API“. This is all part of an important trend of mainstream sites opening up via APIs, and we discuss Mashery a bit, a company that’s making a business out of helping sites roll out APIs.

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Joseph Smarr at Web 2.0 on the New “Open Stack”

Joseph Smarr, Plaxo’s chief platform architect, and de facto leader of the Portable Contacts initiative, gave a talk today at the Web 2.0 conference in New York. Entitled “Tying it all together; Implementing the Open Web,” it was a rallying cry for developers to jump in and get working on the new “open stack” of OpenID, OAuth, OpenSocial, XRDS-Simple, and Portable Contacts. See converage from attendees Kris Jordan and Steve Kuhn (who quips about Joseph, “Dude talks fast”)!

Joseph asserted that the industry has now come together around a common vision for the future of the Social Web — a vision that abandons the walled garden model in favor of a new services layer that interconnects social hubs with the rest of the web. The service layer is comprised of Identity Providers, Social Graph Providers, and Content Aggregators:

A Common Vision for the Future of the Social Web

And, indeed, that is the vision behind the strategies we see from Google (with Friend Connect; which launched for real today), Plaxo (with Pulse), MySpace (with Data Availability), Yahoo (with Y!OS), and, yes, even Facebook, too (with Connect).

Joseph goes on to observe that there are two pathways to that vision, one built on Facebook’s proprietary stack and the pathway chosen by MySpace, Google, Yahoo, Plaxo, and many others, built on the new open stack:

The New "Open Stack" for the Social Web

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Yahoo’s “Y!OS”: Strong Proof the Web is Going Social — and Open!

Some really big news came and went last week, with relatively little attention paid to it by the mainstream media. Yahoo, the top Internet site in a major battle to regain it’s “mojo,” unveiled the details of “Y!OS” (Yahoo Open Strategy), a truly bold move that completely re-defines the notion of a portal. [See also nice coverage on Mashable by Rob Diana.]

Just as the “open” wave is transforming social network from walled gardens into aggregation hubs for connecting with the rest of the Web, Y!OS will transform Yahoo from a traditional portal into something entirely new. They’re doing it all by building on top of open spec building blocks, including OpenID, OAuth, and OpenSocial. And they’re not just taking these blocks off the shelf; they’re also giving back, contributing their own innovations in the spirit of let’s-all-work-together to keep the web open.

To learn more about Y!OS, we invited Cody Simms, Sr. Director of Product Management from Yahoo on to our weekly Internet TV show, The Social Web TV. Cody is a really dynamic guy; I think you’ll agree this is a great episode!

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Plaxo Becomes “Portable Contacts” Provider, Helping Vet the Draft Spec

Portable Contacts deep dive

As a follow-on to last week’s Portable Contacts Summit, Plaxo has updated its API site, de-emphasizing the company’s proprietary APIs in favor of Portable Contacts and the other associated “open stack” building blocks (OpenID, OAuth, microformats, OpenSocial, etc.). While the spec still remains in a draft state, the community agreed that it is time to start getting multiple live implementations up, as part of the process of vetting the current (and any future) draft. Only in that way can there be a fully-informed decision process to declare a final 1.0.

Joseph Smarr, who is Plaxo’s Chief Platform Architect and the de facto leader of the grass roots Portable Contacts initiative, blogged about the update to the API site in a piece entitled “Portable Contacts is Now Plaxo’s Primary API“:

We’ve revamped Plaxo’s developer section to focus primarily on the open building blocks we’re using. Starting now, developers should consider OAuth and Portable Contacts the primary way to access profile, address book, and pulse connections data from Plaxo. The idea is simple: once you write code to work with Plaxo, you can use that exact same code on a variety of other sites. And if you’ve already integrated with one of those sites, you can start working with Plaxo right away. After all, one of the main drivers to create Portable Contacts was the pain developers face having to write custom, one-off API implementations against every site they deal with. So we think it’s time to start living the good life, where common specs mean less writing code and more interoperability with more sites.

Given the strong support demonstrated at the Summit, we expect to see other implementations in the wild soon. And since Portable Contacts is all about enabling interoperability between Social Web services, it is critically important that we test a variety of cross-site scenarios live before declaring this or a future draft to be “1.0”.

One really cool thing is that all of the companies that fully implement the new OpenSocial RESTful APIs will be Portable Contacts compliant “out of the box” — without having to write any additional code. That’s because the Portable Contacts community worked with the OpenSocial community to technically align the two specs. So, don’t be surprised to see Portable Contacts support coming soon to some really big Internet players. (Hint: Google and MySpace had live demos at last week’s Summit.)

I am starting to feel very confident in my prediction for 2008! 🙂

If you are a developer who wants to jump in and get started on Portable Contacts, head over to Plaxo’s just-updated API site.

Update: I just also got a link to a live Portable Contacts demo from JanRain, which ties together OpenID and Plaxo’s implementation of Portable Contacts. Very cool.

[Reminder/disclosure: I work for Plaxo.]

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