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MySpace, Flock and Vidoop release OpenID for Flock plugin

OpenID is a really great concept. The ability to use a single digital identity across the web and avoid having to sign up for yet another user account is a real productivity boon. More and more high profile sites and services are adopting OpenID, but the project still hasn't gained the traction that many of us think it deserves. This is partially because it still isn't easy to use OpenID -- or even find out if a site supports OpenID -- on all services. MySpace, Flock and Vidoop think they've come across a solution: let the browser handle it.

Back in June, MySpace announced support for OpenID and also became an OpenID provider. In order to help users more easily manage their online identity across other sites and services, MySpace teamed up with Flock and Vidoop to create OpenID for Flock, available today at OpenID for Flock is an open source plugin, part of the larger Identity in the Browser (IDIB) project which is focused on having the browser, not the user handle, authenticate and mange multiple user identities.

I had the chance to demo the plugin yesterday and it is pretty cool. Essentially, once installed an OpenID icon appears on the right of Flock's chrome bar. The extension scans a page for OpenID compatibility, and if a site supports OpenID, the icon starts to glow. You can then automatically choose to populate the OpenID fields with your designated OpenID URL or associate that site with a specific OpenID account. You can manage all of your OpenIDs, choose what sites to associate certain profiles with and view the login history and OpenID-to-site-relationship with each site.

This is all done in the browser -- so as the user, you don't have to remember, "did I already sign up for an account with X service using my ClaimID account or did I use my MySpace name, or was it something else?" That's something I've personally run into before, and it is a pretty significant PITA to try to consolidate two accounts or reconcile which profile was used at what location.

I had the opportunity to talk to Dan Burkhart from Flock and Max Engel from MySpace and both are really excited and committed to the proliferation of OpenID and making it easier for users to use. Personally, I think the browser is the perfect, and frankly, sensible solution.

We've been critical of Flock before for not being as innovative as we think they could be. That criticism still stands, but the fact that Flock has invested and partnered in developing this type of extension is an example of the kind of stuff we really want to see from Flock, and something we hope continues.

The technology is open source -- so obviously developers for other browsers are welcome to create an extension for other browsers and contribute back to the project -- but right now, Flock is the only place the extension is guaranteed to work. Good on Flock for taking the lead in this area -- and good on MySpace and Vidoop for helping further the OpenID cause.

Tags: extension, flock, myspace, openid, opensource, plugin, vidoop