The 10th iteration of the Internet Identity Workshop wrapped up yesterday in Mountain View, CA. Since Kaliya, Doc, and I started IIW in 2005, we've always wondered when (or if) there would be a "big bang" when internet identity just took off. If this IIW wasn't the big bang, it was certainly a great indication that we're headed toward one. There were about 240 people at IIW this time, 80 more than the highest past attendance. There were companies represented that you'd not think of as "early adopters" in internet identity. And the discussion has finally, mostly moved on from login.
I say "finally" moved on because one of the most notable features of this IIW was the absence of discussion around Information Cards. InfoCards are largely dormant at this point. Kim Cameron, the father of InfoCards, has abdicated to France. I don't say this pejoratively, but he is clearly out of the fight. Microsoft has released server code that is incompatible with their client code. And Microsoft's 2-3 year release cycle guarantees that they won't be able to release anything fast enough to respond with the agility that the current, rapidly changing identity landscape requires--even if they wanted to, which I'm not sure they do.
The only other player with any hope of responding to market, Azigo, isn't releasing updated selectors either and won't until the end of summer. If Azigo had released a native, cross platform selector based on AzigoLite a year ago there would be some hope, but the continuous release delays have left others unsure of what the future holds for Azigo and InfoCards. No one can base their plans on the uncertain future releases of small companies. Working code speaks louder than anything else. All of this adds up to a situation where no one would be comfortable adopting InfoCards.
Harsh words perhaps, but I think they accurately describe the situation. Don't get me wrong, I think InfoCards are still an important piece of the overall identity landscape. The ideas and concepts embedded in Kim's identity metasystem are still the most complete and philosophically sound. The technology solves problems that OpenID is still trying to work out. And yet, the execution has been herky-jerky leaving InfoCards unusable by almost everyone. I said "dormant" and not "dead" in the last paragraph because I believe that InfoCards will still be important--if only by example--as this all continues to play out.
I say "mostly" because OpenID continues to thrash towards becoming a viable solution. The politics surrounding OpenID are worthy of a soap opera. I don't pretent to understand it all, so I won't try to explain it. I largely try to stay neutral and out of it all. I can do that because I have great respect for the players and know that they've weathered these storms before. The result will likely be a better, more functional protocol. The good news is there's workable code now from multiple vendors and the protocol wrangling isn't going to break what's working now.
As a consequence of all this the 220 people at the conference who don't live and breathe the promised OpenID changes were left to discuss other things. You can read the depth and bredth of it in the notes on the IIW wiki. But there was one topic that represented a big trend that is going to dominate the discussions on identity for some time. That's the subject of the next blog post: The Future of Internet Identity: Data Access and Modeling.