Don’t say I didn’t warn you, but now when you try to log into your favorite neighborhood spyware, you’ll be greeted by a prompt to login with either your old skool Dodgeball account credentials or your Gauth account (the one that you use for Docs, Gmail, Gcal, Orkut, or other Google Services like YouTube (whoops — did I just say YouTube?).
Should you choose to login with your Dodgeball account, you’ll then be asked what your Gauth account is… again… or to create a new one. I chose to eff it and just merge my accounts (hoping that there’s an export of my checkins to Google Earth). Now I can manage Dodgeball from Google (note the last service):
So here’s an interesting theory. Or maybe a foretelling of the inevitable. But clearly everything that Google buys, it will, somehow, someday, assimilate. Just like Teh Borg a generation before it.
I mean, from a business perspective, it does make sense. Yahoo! at least had the sense to make it utterly optional for Flickr and Upcoming users to use or create a Yahoo account for logging in (though they’ve recently backslid into pushing straight-up Y! Auth at Flickr).
So in light of the GooTube buy-out, what’s interesting about this Dodgeball stitchover is what happens if they do the same to YouTube (which, of course, they will, giving them a lump sum portion of the nearly 20M monthly uniques as new or merged accounts under their proprietary authentication system). …Which then, of course, can be used at other Google Authenticated sites. But hey, how useful are those accounts on sites that don’t use their system? Yeah, about as a good as a false username and an incorrect password: utterly useless.
Which leads me to pimping OpenID, the open grassroots alternative I’ve previously discussed. If Google opted to interop with (or help develop) this emerging standard, users would be centrally in control of their data — and able to rely on vendors that they choose to represent them — hell, even run their own identity server if that’s their wont — and take their data with them. And now is more critical than ever to raise these issues as the major players push CardSpace, BBAuth and GAuth while independent identity projects struggle to keep it together and muster their collective will in crafting a standard that keeps users’ rights and interests squarely at the fore.
Thus with Google standing guard squarely between me and more and more of the services that I use, I’m starting to bear witness to the rise of a very insidious environment — where, heck, the kids’ll just keep following the pied piper into unknown territory until Google single-handedly locks’em all up in its walled-garden-silo, never to escape with their data or their friends again (that’s not evil, is it?) — or at least that’s what it looks like from here, given their culture of secrecy and expediency in converting existing login systems to their own (Writely, Dodgeball, Blogger, Picasa, Google Earth, etc).
But hey, I still remain hopefully naive while decidedly skeptical; if it’s not Google that gets there first, maybe it’ll be Apple with their patent on transportable identities. And, if there’s something you want to do about it in the meantime, if you’re running WordPress, go ahead and grab the new WordPress OpenID plugin. Perhaps if we take the identity matter into our own hands and do something about it first, they’ll have no choice but to keep the gate to their walled gardens, at the very least, unlatched.