Tag Archives: Oauth

OpenSocial Birthday, Open Stack and the Smarr and Engel Show

The first of my videos from today’s anniversary event for OpenSocial is now up. The following segment was recorded late in the day at a breakout session led by Plaxo’s Joseph Smarr and MySpace’s Max Engel. Joseph and Max did a great tag-team discussion on the new “Open Stack” and how it can take us beyond the widget phase of social apps to the emerging world of the Social Web. The videos include several live demos that string together open spec building blocks, inlcuding OpenID, OAuth, Portable Contacts, XRDS-Simple, and the OpenSocial RESTful APIs.

I was so impressed with Joseph and Max, that I really want to encourage them to work up a longer tutorial session that we can share with the world via video. If you have interest in how the Open Stack will bring about the open Social Web, you’ll definitely enjoy the following two clips. (Clip two to follow once it’s encoded on Viddler.)


Part I

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On location at the Internet Identity Workshop

We just uploaded a special episode of The Social Web TV, shot on location at the Internet Identity Workshop at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. Special guests include Max Engel of MySpace, Eran Hammer of Yahoo, Dick Hardt of Sxipper, Paul Trevithick of Parity, and Doc Searls of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. I think you’ll agree that this is a “magical” episode!

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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 MySpace’s Max Engel’s talk at the Widget Summit

And now Max Engel, product manager for MySpace Data Availability, is up.

What makes me, me? What I say about me. What others say about me (or reputation). What I do (or my activity). Who I know (or my social graph). What I create. The content I generate and share. Where I can go (my ability to authenticate). How do I allow my identity to travel with me?

The Old World: the walled garden. The New World: Data Availability. An enabler for connecting with all of the web. The social social network.

What is the goal? Make life simpler (for developers and users).

Max is showing Joseph’s “most building on the open stack” slide!

Why this matters to you: The walls are crumbing and the networks are growing through the roof. [This point illustrated by an image of an old stone castle overtaken by lush vegetation. Sweet!] The open stack lowers the barrier to entry for user acquisition on your site. Retention: you become both complementary and indispendable. Traffic: make your site and service a fulcrum. (Example Twitter.) Monetization: gain valuable insights into your user base by allowing them to easily plug in. Why this matters? Identity becomes an open stream that you can dip into.

What is available now? We provide APIs to get to content (photos, for example)…; authentication via OAuth; dynamic profiles (changes reflected everywhere).

More granular on profile access. Portable profile: age, current location, date of birth, gender, nickname, thumbnail url, etc. Cacheable: About me, body type, books, children, drinker, enthnicity, has app, heroes, ID, interests, job, looking for, movies, music, name, network…

Sowing example of Picnik.com. We can let users edit their photos where they want to and have it flow back to my profile.

Supporting OpenSocial 0.8.1 REST Support, which means MySpace is already supporting Portable Contacts. Sweet!

Why OpenID at MySpace? “Our user identify with their ‘vanity URLs’.” Over 90% of our active users have vanity URLs. We have almost 30 million users who are both OpenSocial app users and have a vanity URLs. These folks are primed to use their MySpace URL as their OpenID. Coming soon!

“We are embracing the OpenID standard for single sign-on for the web.” And combining it with OAuth to enable true data availability across the web.

“We believe strongly in working with the community to ensure compatibility with open standards.”

[My thoughts: Wow! MySpace is absolutely committed to the new “Open Stack.” Some have thought the big players might just be paying lip service to opening up, but MySpace is for real. If you have not been paying attention to MySpace Data Availability, clearly now is the time to do so.]

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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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Announcing Episode 15: “On Location at Yahoo!”

We’ve just posted this week’s episode of The Social Web TV, “On location at Yahoo!” I chat with special guest, Allen Tom, Architect, Yahoo! Membership, about last week’s Y!OS rollout and this week’s historic OpenID/OAuth UX Summit.

And, in case you missed it, I did a guest post on the topic at TechCrunchIT, entitled, Facebook Connect and OpenID Relationship Status: “It’s Complicated”.

Oh, and Dare Obasanjo wrote a response to my post, entitled Some Thoughts on OpenID vs. Facebook Connect

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Live Blogging the OpenID/OAuth UX Summit

From the OpenID/OAuth UX Summit

I’m at Yahoo for the OpenID/OAuth UX Summit. The room is packed with 40 or so folks. Companies with representation include Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, MySpace, Plaxo, AOL, SixApart, JanRain, Vidoop, Chi.mp, and Magnolia, and projects including Internet2 and DiSo. The Summit is a response to recent usability studies by Yahoo and Google that show the current state-of-affairs with OpenID and OAuth is quite poor, and we need together to find a user experience for the “open stack” that works for consumers.

I’ll be sharing observations over the course of the day.

First up: Facebook’s Julie Zhuo, sharing experience from Facebook Connect. Idea originated in 2006 with the Facebook API. Initial version didn’t have any flow back to Facebook. Clunkiness of UI. One question for the Facebook Connect UI: How much text is really needed? Showing evolution of the UI to address the fundamental question, “What is Facebook Connect?” Final version includes user’s profile photo (if user is logged in), and thumbnails for both Facebook and the site user wants to connect.

From the OpenID/OAuth UX Summit

Good discussion about what usability revealed, about informed consent and user confusion, and about whether this passes EU privacy laws. (Answer: yes.) Facebook research showed that users had little or no understanding or savvy about phishing and URLs.

By the way, I have to say it — great to see not only is Facebook attending this “open stack” summit, but that they’ve got four people here (including Dave Morin, Josh Elman, and Mike Vernal) and leading the opening session! That’s awesome.

From the OpenID/OAuth UX Summit

Now talking about the Connect Button. First version had tagline “Bring your friends,” but users didn’t know it was a button. Second version said “Register.” Third version said “Connect” and experimented with the user’s profile photo on the button. Final version is just the Facebook “f” and “Connect” or “Connect with Facebook”.

Discussing logout options: unified, per-site, hybrid. Unified is secure, but unintuitive. Per-site is intuitive, but not necessarily secure. Chose unified out of security. Question for the future, if Facebook Connect takes off, may be strange to log out from one site and be instantly logged out of Facebook and all other Connect sites. A good laugh, as Joseph Smarr suggests a slightly more complex alternative. Julie says, “But then you’d make the user have to think.” Joseph’s aside, “That’s spoken like a true mainstream consumer site.” Incredibly active session. Key takeways slide: streamlined login is important. Explain what is going on. Err on the side of security. Flexibility is important.

Next up: Max Engel of MySpace. “The Hybrid Login: OpenID and OAuth.” MySpace will support OpenID, OAuth, and a hybrid of the two. Will use a pop-up iframe. Allows the user to stay in context. Max is showing screens of the experience they are planning. Every MySpace user has a vanity URL, which will be their OpenID. Still trying to figure out whether to support logging with just “MySpace.com”. Key design elements will be similar to Facebook Connect.

Data types: content, address book, registration, profile, friends, activity. Big laugh as Max shows the original OAuth screen, that has so much fine print that it looks like it was designed by a lawyer! Lots of discussion about whether email address should be passed to the site. Why it matters: not just for communicating, but also to avoid duplicate account problem Plaxo has experienced as an OpenID Relying Party and Yahoo OpenID. Chris Messina advancing the idea of email address as OpenID, something under consideration for OpenID 2.1.

Max revisiting that MySpace Data Availability originally was to have zero cacheability of the data, which was not going to fly with anyone. Now planning a “portable profile” plus some cacheable MySpace-specific data. Allen Tom of Yahoo raises the point that the “cacheable” data is all on public pages already, so why not just mark it up with microformats and remove the caching restriction. “If Relying Parties don’t get the data they need, OpenID only creates complexity.” Max just mentioned Portable Contacts in his presentation. Drink!

So many tough questions about complexity and confusion vs. simplicity but lack of clear, informed consent. Good discussion about whether participating sites can use the profile data they pull in to do targeting (including ad targeting). Facebook team says that they allow the site to use the data for targeting on the site, but not to redistribute the data (to an ad network, for example). Makes sense.

Max says that the sell to major websites is much stronger for combination of OpenID, OAuth, XRDS-Simple, Portable Contacts, and OpenSocial. Question from the back of the room, “What do you call all of that?” Answer popping up from Max, Joseph, Chris Messina, and me, “The ‘Open Stack’!”

Rising chorus for coming together to develop a common UI spec for OpenID. A call for five volunteers. Hands raised include Chris Messina (Vidoop), Joseph Smarr (Plaxo), Eric Sachs (Google), Max Engel (MySpace), and, drumroll, Julie Zhuo (Facebook). That’s great!

LUNCH BREAK

Next up: Allen Tom of Yahoo. Over 300 million users have an OpenID from Yahoo. Question shouted, “How many have used it?” Answer: “It has exceeded our expectations.” 😉 But, yes, we’re all here because we know we need to improve the user exerience.

Launched BBAuth in 2006. Showing “Find Friends” on Facebook and LinkedIn, using BBAuth. BBAuth and OAuth is to grant long-lived credentials to third-party sites. “Cannot allow weaker credentials to be used to mint stronger credentials.” Talking about various security considerations. Login screen must never be framed. Anti-phishing sign-in seal must always be displayed.

Allen now showing the “scary screen” which users are shown to approve access via BBAuth. *Lots* of small print legaleze. “Based on the feedback on BBAuth, we changed our approach on OAuth, which is what we’ll be using going forward.” Now, been spending a lot of time looking at and talking through the OAuth permissions screen.

Allen now showing and talking about Yahoo’s implementation of OpenID. It is *much* improved over the version they went out the door with (shrinking 14 steps to two). Allen shares that “machine-generated” OpenID URLs have proven *way* more popular than user-selected. Surprised reactions.

Talking now about Plaxo’s experience as an OpenID Relying Party. The business rationale, the philosophical view, and the admission that OpenID experience is not yet today a clear net positive to the key metrics. But Plaxo remains optimistic that the situation can improve dramatically with what’s being discussed here today.

Next up, Magnolia’s Larry Halfft. They’ve used OpenID as a key part of their strategy to reduce spam accounts and have been generally pleased with the results.

Now, Eric Sachs of Google, who just showed what I think is the first public demo of Google as an OpenID Provider. Giving context: SaaS vendors get asked to be a SAML RP for enterprise IDPs. In parallel, Google Checkout folks had questions/issues with login. Giving examples of login on Buy.com and Amazon.com, as an inspiration for a new/better? login experience for OpenID/OAuth. Now the challenge of desktop apps and OAuth. Seems like “No, help me sign in” is the key verbiage of this new “LSO” login model Eric is advocating. Now Google Accounts vs. accounts for Google AppsForYourDomain. Downside to this LSO login approach is that it does not work well for IDPs who are not email providers.

Lots of good-natured joking as we try to do a demo, that requires a Windows computer with .Net and IE as the default browser. Not easy to find in this crowd!

It’s 3:00pm. We’ve now finished the formal agenda and are discussing how folks would like to organize the last two hours.

It’s almost 4:00pm. Joseph Smarr of Plaxo is demoing the “Open Stack” end-to-end stuff that was developed by JanRain for the Portable Contacts Summit. OpenID, OAuth, XRDS-Simple, and Portable Contacts working together to enable simple and secure sign-up with access to user’s profile and address book. Good discussion underway. Joseph now explaining XRDS-Simple and answering a lot of questions.

Joseph Smarr demoing the "Open Stack"

Chris Messina now leading a discussion about the proposal to extend the OpenID spec to allow email addresses as OpenIDs. Mike Jones of Microsoft asserts this creates a major security vulnerability. Discussion underway.

Some discussion of how to handle if the Provider site is down. Mike Vernal of Facebook responding to that question vis-a-vis Facebook Connect. Good response.

5:15. That’s a wrap. What a great day. The UX working group got a bit larger at the end, which is good. Eager to see what they come up with!

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APIs Popping Up All Over (Thanks to Mashery)

The latest episode of The Social Web TV has just been released, hosted by Chris Messina and me, and with special guest Clay Loveless, Mashery’s chief architect. Mashery is the company powering new APIs from the New York Times, Netflix, Best Buy, and MTV, among others. The fact that a company can make a good business out of building and supporting APIs for mainstream companies is another good sign that the Social Web is opening up, big time.

Head on over to The Social Web TV to watch and get the supporting links, or click on the embed below:

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A Big Day for the Open Stack: Y!OS Launches

"We're Open at Yahoo!"

Congratulations to the team at Yahoo! Today, they rolled out the first phase of Y!OS, the bold strategy to transform the Internet’s top destination into a social hub that richly interacts with the web at large. Great coverage at TechCrunch and CNET. I won’t wade in with a product review just yet, as I haven’t had a chance to deeply interact with all the new features or trick out my profile. I will try to give a little bit of context to this historic moment, one that Yahoo marked with a gigantic banner decked out with logos of the most important open building blocks, including OpenSocial, OpenID, and OAuth. Alas, we haven’t yet picked a logo for Portable Contacts. ;^(

What we’re seeing here is a major proof point that we are, as I have predicted, about to ride one of Silicon Valley’s “big waves” — those major disruptive changes that open not just new markets, but whole new business ecosystems. Those wave come once every 15 years or so (PCs in the late ’70’s and the Web in ’93, exactly 15 years ago). This big wave is the “Social Web,” and it will change the Internet as we know it, bringing the missing “people layer” to everything. And we’re all building it on a common “open stack”:

The New "Open Stack" for the Social Web

The Open Stack was a major topic of discussion at FOWA in London last week, with sessions and talks on it by David Recordon and Chris Messina, and a pointed question about why Facebook has not embraced it directed to Mark Zuckerberg in the “fireside chat.’

For a good overview of Y!OS, check out Cody Simms of Yahoo as a special guest recently on The Social Web TV:

And don’t miss Dare Obasanjo’s “The New Yahoo! Profile and Doing Data Portability the Right Way.”

Oh, yeah, and one last pic. Joseph Smarr and I were so proud and excited to see this day, that we had to dash over and take our picture with the gigantic “open” banner!

Joseph Smarr and John McCrea at the Y!OS Giant Banner

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