I have been playing with OpenID for about a year now. It is a very cool, distributed authentication system. The concept is great and I love that I don’t have to create accounts everywhere. Instead, I just log in with OpenID and away I go. The biggest shortcoming for OpenID from a user perspective however is the fact that you have to remember a url. People aren’t very good at that. I have my OpenID mapped through justinball.com which is easy to remember, but most people don’t have that luxury and if your name is Bill Smith or Sam Jones you are not likely to own the corresponding domain.
Over the past week I have had some time to play with the Facebook APIs. Before I became a Facebook fan I could not figure out why anyone would use the stupid thing. Quite frankly before my friends started showing up in the system there wasn’t a good reason. Facebook really depends on the network to be meaningful to an individual, but I digress.
So I am playing with Facebook in a number of context and now my head is exploding with all the possible cool apps you can build when you don’t have to figure out profiles and how to build user accounts and networks etc.
I don’t know if it is the intention of the Facebook guys, but it really could be a kick butt authentication system. Sure, it isn’t open and you depend on Facebook, but then I doubt many end users will care. In the current generation there are a whole lot of facebook users and I think they might smile kindly upon you if they could just use their existing Facebook account to log into your website. Take it a step further and integrate your site as a plugin into Facebook. If your website can take advantage of social networks the integration is natural and should bring you more traffic.