Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Google Reader and OpenID

I have started experimenting with Google Reader for RSS Feeds instead of using Bloglines, and so far I like the results. The ability to star and share feeds is great, and the page loading does seem faster in Firefox. The Google Reader FAQ provides a good overview of its capabilities.

I also discovered the OpenID project this evening, thanks to its support by LiveJournal. I registered using MyOpenID and configured my own blog so I can use its address to login to OpenID enabled sites, like LiveJournal blogs. My comment here is an example of a comment authenticated via OpenID.

I’ve been doing more thinking about virtual identities lately, especially after viewing Dick Hardt’s OSCON 2005 Keynote on “Identity 2.0” back in December at the suggestion of Mike Lawrence. One thread of my thinking on identity regards our current inability to verify “we are who we say we are” when we comment on someone else’s blog. This has not become a problem for me or for anyone I know YET, but since the read/write web has such an open architecture I think it is bound to be an issue soon. The problem I’ve been wondering how to solve is verifying my identity when I comment on other blogs, and OpenID may have a good answer to this challenge. (I particularly like the fact it has a decentralized and open architecture.)


So what is OpenID? The short answer is:

OpenID is a light-weight, decentralized authentication mechanism that allows you to have one login that you can use anywhere on the Internet.

According to Brian:

OpenID is an open identity specification. It provides a way for you to prove your identity to websites that speak OpenID. The important bit here is that you can use the same identity across websites. For example, if my identity is, I can use it as my login to check email, leave comments on my friend’s blog, or order a pizza. I can use it at any website that is OpenID enabled as if I already had an account. It blurs the lines of where you you have an account, and the question you ask changes from “Do I have an account?” to “Is the site OpenID enabled?”

I hunted around for a WordPress plug-in that would make my WordPress blog OpenID enabled, but could not find one. There is a WordPress OpenID plugin which appears to do your OpenID personal blog configuration for you so you can use your blog address to authenticate with OpenID. There does NOT appear to be a WordPress plug-in which supports the use of OpenID in comments posted by visitors however, like LiveJournal does currently. The OpenID bounty page suggests that OpenID is not yet supported by WordPress or many other open source content management solutions.

If anyone knows more information about OpenID support for WordPress blogs, please let me know. The VeriSign Personal Identity Provider appears to be another alternative to MyOpenID, as a free site you can register with instead of running your own OpenID server.

If all of this sounds confusing to you, realize this discussion of OpenID and new vocabulary words like “personnas” and “trust roots” is new to me also. The idea of validating virtual identities is a basic one, however, and I hope to learn more about work in this area in the weeks ahead. It appears there are going to be several meetings in the U.S. and in Canada this week focused on OpenID. This screencast on using OpenID from Simon Willison provides a good overview, if you want to learn more and get started using OpenID.

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6 responses to “Google Reader and OpenID”

  1. Kyle Brumbaugh Avatar

    I have been using Google Reader instead of Bloglines for about two months now… I do like the ability to ‘star’ certain entries and scroll through feeds much more quickly than I could with Bloglines. But the biggest benefit is that I can use the API on Google’s site to plug Google Reader into my Google Personal Home Page. Now, I have a personalized home that has all of my Google Tools on it. (Gmail, Docs and Spreadsheets, Reader, Notebook, Picasa web albums, bookmarks, etc.) I can also automatically log into Blogger, by opening a new tab in Firefox and then typing in ‘’

  2. Rob Darrow Avatar

    I agree with Kyle about Google Reader. I have customized my Google home page to include Google reader and I like the way the customized page allows me to glance at the posts that I subscribe to. Being fairly new to this, and having never used Bloglines, I find the ability to create categories in Google Reader to assist in more efficient reading of blog postings very useful.

  3. Chris Craft Avatar

    I have been following OpenID in the specific context of openacademic. Bill Fitzgerald is doing solid work on integrating open source components such as Drupal, Elgg, Moodle, and MediaWiki. A release might be soon!

    Chris Craft

  4. […] OpenID is getting popular day by day and generating lot of discussion with varied response. I was wondering if it would be a good idea to have a password-less/ anonymous OpenID that one can use. I think that I need one, so I made the anonymous OpenID server and it ready for you to use at Read the Anonymous OpenID page for more info. […]

  5. […] Jayant Kumar Gandhi brings us this “great news”: OpenID is getting popular day by day and generating lot of discussion with varied response. I was wondering if it would be a good idea to have a password-less/ anonymous OpenID that one can use. I think that I need one, so I made the anonymous OpenID server and it ready for you to use at […]