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Why Yadis Matters

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Note: This wants to become a collaboratively created article "Why Yadis matters". The audience I have mind is broadly educated in technology, but not an expert on "digital identity" or cryptography etc. The goal of the article would be to communicate to them, in five minutes, why they should spend more time finding out what Yadis is all about.
I have no idea whether this kind of collaborative article writing could possibly work, but then, why not try it out? I've started this with a rough outline ... Johannes Ernst

Why Yadis Matters

Individuals are asserting themselves on-line as individuals ...

That's why we have blogging, media sharing etc. ...

The URLs at which individuals assert themselves can be "strengthened" by adding strong authentication, profile exchange, authenticated messaging, social networking, ... features.

Many technologies are being developed for this all the time ... like OpenID, LID, i-names etc. None of these technologies is, or ever will, address everybody's requirements. So we need a mechanism by which different people can innovate into different directions ("I need to use PGP" vs. "I need high privacy" vs. "I want on-line contact forms that are authenticated" vs. "I want to build a reputation network" etc. etc.) without getting into each others way, but being able to use each other's work.

Yadis is the project and the technology that makes this possible.

Yadis should be seriously considered by people / companies who:

  • have a user registration system of some kind for their users
  • wish to empower individuals to self-assert on the network
  • want to authenticate, and hold to account, individuals doing things with them
  • are interested in social networking structures

Please improve, gradually or radically ;-)

Johannes, here's one way of explaining 'Why Yadis Matters' that might help. =Drummond.


Why Yadis Matters: Empowering the Virtual You

Today, the standard representation of an individual's identity on the Internet is an email address. If you can send/receive email, you can be a functioning member of Internet society, i.e., you can register at websites, participate in mailing lists, vote in forums, etc.

But email is a relatively limited channel in which the vast majority of messages need to be handled manually by the end user. It's also ansynchronous -- non-real-time -- so for example if you want to register at a website, you have to wait until the registration confirmation is received via your email account before you can gain access to the website. Furthermore, email is relatively insecure and trival to spoof, as witnessed by the tidal wave of spam. In fact spam has become so bad that it forces many of us to change email addresses eventually even if we wanted to keep them.

As the net evolves into a more sophisticated environment where meeting new people/organizations and interacting with them in a variety of contexts becomes part of everyday life, we need a richer form of identity than an email address. The obvious choice is a web address of some kind -- many of us already have personal websites or blogs that already provide a much richer picture of ourselves than an email address. However in most cases these websites are just for browsing, either by humans or by robots crawling it for a search engine. They are not yet providing us with active services that help us assert our identity and exchange/synchronize personal information in real time.

These "identity services" have been developed, however -- new protocols already exist for authentication (proving your identity to a website), data sharing (selecting what personal information you want to share/synchronize with your contacts), reputation sharing (proving you have a certain standing in certain communities, such as eBay or Slashdot), and introduction (making new contacts on the basis of your provable identity and reputation).

There is only one piece missing: a simple, universally-interoperable way of "hooking up" these identity services to your personal web address. With such a solution you could, for example, give your personal web address to a website and it could automatically register and log you in. Or give your personal web address to an e-commerce site and have it automatically fill in your billing and shopping address. Or give your personal web address to a community that could automatically verify your reputation and grant you access to certain services.

All that stands between us and these highly useful identity and reputation services is a simple, standard, extensible format that lets you plug these -- and any other innovative new service that comes along -- into your personal website, blog, or Internet account. Without locking you into any one service or service provider.

That's Yadis. And that's why Yadis matters.

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