Provenance, identity, and Google App Engine
Image by davemc500hats via Flickr
One thing that has been becoming clearer and clearer to me is the need to an agreed central authority for identify. This is one thing, possibly the one thing, that needs to be absolutely secure and inviolable for Open Science to work. Trust relies on provenance. Attribution, which is at the heart of open practice, relies on provenance. And pulling all of my data together from multiple streams in an automatic way relies on a record of their provenance.
There has been a lot of discussion about Google App Engine but two posts in particular have collided for me. First was the first blog post about an app I saw off the rank which uses a Google account to access an open id. Useful and cool. Secondly was the emphasis in another post from David Recordon about Google Apps as a potential Facebook Killer that the access to Google accounts is a key part of the offering.
Then I realised. Google already probably had the highest penetration as a validator of identities but these only really provide access to Google services. OpenID is great in principle but is not perhaps getting the traction it needs to go global. But all of that now just goes away. If you can write an app to authenticate someone via Google and then link that to OpenID you can do it for anything. Google have just positioned themselves to be the de facto provider of identities. And they may have solved the provenance problem into the bargain.
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