Introduction To WebID

Last week, we discussed how Amazon were moving in on Cloud ISV’s territory by developing commodity building block services that could be re-used more easily by those without the inclination or budget to make the required capital investment into developing these features themselves.  We proposed that something that might slow down their progress towards world domination would be an open source alternative that could be used to abstract these application services.

Although one single method hasn’t presented itself (that we are aware of) this article about WebID by Sebastian Trüg about WebID points the way towards defining how the options might start to take shape.  WebID is a a semantic web authentication system:

WebID is essentially two things: 1. a way to identify yourself and others in the semantic web of things, and 2. a unified password-less alternative to classical login credentials. A WebID is essentially a URL pointing to a description of yourself (this is typically a FOAF file) combined with a self-signed X.509 certificate. X.509 certificates are those things used to verify the identity of web servers via SSL. Typically they are signed by big brother authorities like Verisign whose root certificates are hard-coded into all web browsers.” [Read More]

Although nothing special in itself, authentication is a core element of providing services since it’s essential to uniquely identify someone and subsequently evaluate whether they should or should not be permitted access to a given on-line facility.  That this is possible generically via the semantic web opens up many other potential avenues for additional services which can use this open standard, including as proxies or gateways for proprietary options like Amazon,, Microsoft, Google etc.  If these acquire momentum, the larger industry players described might be forced to accommodate them anyway.

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