World Tour | February 27, 2007

Starting with SXSW in just over a weeks time, I’ve got a pretty hectic conference schedule planned for the next couple of months. I’m going to be speaking at Web Design World in San Francisco on the 26th March, so rather than come back in between, I’ve decided to stay over in the states. I’m going to try and get to the IA Summit while I’m there as it looks like a fantastic line-up of speakers, and I’m a big fan of Vegas. The only sad thing is that I’l have to miss the last day, but all the best stuff seems to be at the start anyway.

Between these events I’m planing to hang out in San Fran for a while and get some writing done. I’m not a big fan of sitting in hotel rooms, so I’ll probably check out the whole Coworking thing. If you have any other suggestions for cool places to work, like a nice wifi cafe or something, please let me know. On a similar note, I don’t know San Francisco that well, so any recommendations on places to stay would be most welcome.

I’ve got a few friends and contacts in SF, so I’m looking forward to meeting up with them and getting an insiders tour of the city. I’m also hoping I can blag a visit to the Apple, Google and Yahoo! campuses while I’m there, so if you have any connections, please let me know. Hopefully I won’t be working the whole time, so it would be great to hire a car for a couple of days and get out of the city. Where would you recommend going for a couple of days break?

When I get back to the UK I’ll be heading up to Edinburgh for the Highland Fling conference. I really like Edinburgh so that should be a lot of fun. Thankfully the rest of April is looking pretty open, so I should have a couple of weeks where I can get some proper work done. MIX 07 is at the end of the month, and while I don’t have tickets yet, I’m hoping I can sort something out.

Next up is @media Asia which I’m really excited about. I love Hong Kong so really hope the event is a success. After that is @media Europe which I’ll be attending but won’t be speaking at this year.

A couple of weeks ago Jeffrey asked if I wanted to speak at An Event Apart Seattle on the 21st-22nd June and I literally jumped at the chance. I really love what Jeffrey and Eric are doing with these events, and have been trying to get them to come over to the UK for some time. In the meantime, I’m really looking forward to the event, and speaking with the likes of Jeff Veen, Khoi Vinh, Shaun Inman, Mike Davidson and Jason Santa Maria, not to mention Jeffrey and Eric.

The following week I’ll be speaking at a new event in Spain which has yet to be announced, after which I think I’ll need a good long rest before d.Construct 2007 at the beginning of September.

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Yahoo, OpenID and the Identity Problem | February 19, 2007

I’ve been using Flickr for a couple of years and joined before they were bought by Yahoo! As such, I’ve always logged into my account using my “old school” username and password. When Yahoo! acquired flickr, they obviously wanted to promote the service to their existing user base, so allowed people to log in with a Yahoo! account as well.

Over the ensuing months, the Yahoo! account was promoted as the primary way of using flickr and the “old school” log-in was demoted to a small link at the bottom of the page. I had hoped that the “old school” log in would be retained as I didn’t really want to register for a Yahoo! account. I’m not sure why. It may have been that I liked the anonymity of having multiple, unlinked accounts or it simply may have been that I didn’t use any other Yahoo! services at the time and didn’t see then need for a centralised log-in. It may also have had something to do with an innate geek mistrust of large organisations controlling my online identity a la Microsoft Passport. Whatever the reason I resisted the urge.

A few weeks ago flickr informed me that they were phasing out the old school accounts and requiring their users to log-in using a Yahoo! account instead. I can understand the reason for this. After all, what organisation wants to manage multiple log-in types when they can have a single log-in for their whole portfolio of sites. More importantly, identity management and unified log-in are going to be a big battleground over the next few years.

If you control a persons identity online, you can really influence the services they consume. For instance, if I have a Yahoo! log-in, but not a Microsoft one, there is much more chance that I’ll consume Yahoo! products rather than being forced to create a whole new identity. This is especially true if my identity includes information like my network of friends, as it means I don’t have to recreate this information every time I sign up for a new service. The more concerning side is that it also allows companies to track my behaviour across a variety of online properties much like the company loyalty cards I dislike so much.

So slightly against my better judgement, I signed up for a Yahoo! ID. Rather annoyingly my preferred account name of “andybudd” had already been taken. Admittedly it may have already been taken by me, but going through the password retrieval process I was unable to find an account that matched. I also tried “theandybudd” but that was gone as well. I ended up with “andybudd72” which was really annoying as it meant I was forced to ditch my familiar flickr log-in for a much less familiar one.

I’ve currently got five or six usernames on various sites that all relate to a single person: me. This causes a bit of an identity problem. If I owned the username “andybudd” on every new site, you would know that the user who posted pictures on flickr was the same Andy Budd who posted messages on twitter or messages to your blog. Without this central control of identity, you can assume that it’s the same person, but it could equally be another Andy Budd or even somebody username squatting. On a more prosaic level, it also means I have to remember a bunch of different usernames, their associated passwords, and what sites they relate to. This is a bit of a pain.

While at BarCampLondon2 yesterday (which was excellent btw) I sat in on Simon Willison’s session on OpenID. I saw his presentation on the subject last year, and thought it looked like an interesting concept. However it didn’t seem like many sites were using the technology at the time. Fast forward a few months and it seems like a lot more sites have started using it, so during the session I set up an account and then tried a couple of sites like magnolia. This was cool, but the real kicker for me was IDProxy, a service Simon created to allow you to use your Yahoo! account as an OpenID. By adding a couple of links to the head of your web page, you can now log in to a variety of sites using only your domain name, taking us a big step closer to solving the identity problem.

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Radio BritPack | February 16, 2007

Seems I have very little in common with my BritPack chums.

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