Six Apart is the first company I know of that understands the power of creating open standards. Microsoft creates standards and then tries to keep them proprietary and exert full control. Six Apart seems to understand that you can create a totally open standard (like TrackBack), and still profit substantially from it. You profit because you are the first one to implement it, and you (at least partly) control its evolution. Others are continually playing keep-up, not only in their development departments, but also in the minds of the public.

When I created XFML, I felt some of those possibilities. XFML is a totally open standard, but its evolution is controlled, mostly, by me. (Even though anyone can develop a new version of XFML.) Not because I want to, but because, of the few people that truly, entirely understand it and its purpose, I’m probably the only one interested in evolving it. If I were to start creating tools using that standard, others would continually have to play keep-up. The more I were to make it open and promote it as a standard, the more others would be forced to stay at least compatible.

I need to think this through a bit more, but these were my initial thoughts after seeing TypeKey: “TypeKey is a free, open system providing a central identity that anyone can use to log in and post comments on blogs and other web sites.” From Six Apart, Typekey is kinda what Microsoft was trying to do with Passport, but without the money. I wonder how it compares with SharedID (I haven’t looked into that too much).

Ah – a business model! “We’ll be providing documentation on how to integrate TypeKey authentication into your own applications shortly after the service launches. At that point, there will also be information about what is required to make use of TypeKey services in commercial applications.”

I had missed many of the discussions (summary, questions by Dave Winer, Shelley’s comments) already going on about TypeKey. In short, people are naturally suspicious of any centralized identity technology.

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