Follow up on the mousetrap

Apparently I could have been more clear in my post on the Google Authentication mousetrap, so here’s some additional summary points:

  1. It’s not so much about lock-in as it is that Google can steamroll over independent competition because of their ability to integrate and cross-promote services. In the first bubble, they called this synergy and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s better for users, but worse for upstart competitors.
  2. As web apps become the norm, being able to move your data between them will become essential, and since almost all web apps require some form of authentication, you need to be able to share your credentials between these web apps to transfer the data.
  3. Microsoft Word already runs on OSX and so you already can copy and paste data between it and Appleworks. My point is that that’s not the case on the web today. Because commercial use of APIs are restricted, you have to wait for companies to forge business deals before you get the kind of interop that you already have between different company’s desktop-based applications.
  4. I feel that my view is squarely looking at reality — looking at what will happen if we don’t open up data formats and authentication protocols. I am placing my hope on microformats and OpenID — not because I care so much about the technology, but because until we have open standards for transferring data and open protocols for authenticating, it’s going to continue to be a disempowering situation for your typical end user. Like me.

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: (YC W18), Uber, Google.

4 thoughts on “Follow up on the mousetrap”

  1. I remain hopeful that Google will open up their Auth infrastructure, or make it interoperable with others. They recently hired Ben Laurie (author of mod_ssl, and a security expert), and Ben, in turn, is backing an Apache project under incubation that is trying to implement a single sign on solution around OpenID:

    The fact that Ben chose to wear his Google hat while mentoring this project (he could easily have used his Apache hat instead) makes me believe Google are up to something in this space.

  2. That proposal looks incredibly promising, Gregor – good group of initial committers and mentors. I really hope someone comes up with more solid infrastructure and tools to manage trust relationships across the Web. So far, the closest it’s gotten is with FOAF and some work done at UMD. Putting privacy control in users hands is great but if you don’t give said participants to set trust levels for friends/contacts and sites then we’re still missing a large degree of control over our own information.

  3. Pingback: Opposable Mind

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