Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Thoughts on the WebFinger Protocol

This comes as a response to Dare Obasanjo's post Some Thoughts on WebFinger and Personal Web Discovery. I am not going to summarize what WebFinger does, other than to paraphrase, WebFinger allows you to associate more of your identity with your email address. Smart, right?

Dare suggests that WebFinger might be more useful in making your online identity portable, rather than for its intended usage for end users. Which I agree with. I would like to keep all of my online identity in one place, but I have to take issue with the use of an email address for any purpose other than sending and receiving email (and I admit, I use my gmail address for plenty of authentication out of necessity and convenience), because it encourages and softens people up for abuse by the password anti-pattern.

If there's one thing I appreciate about Facebook, LinkedIn and their kind, it's that they shield people from my email. I don't want to ever give anyone my email, because I want to be able to turf it if I need to, at which point, people can still find me on Facebook etc. But, it's true, having an uncommon name is a mixed blessing. WebFinger seems like a good idea, but it also sounds kind of like it's grooming people for the password anti-pattern. We should be telling people "Don't give away your email, don't give away your email password..."

(From my comment on Dare's blog)

This what my daughter thinks about gatekeepers:

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