The main problems with having accounts everywhere are:
- I have to keep track of all these user names and passwords;
- I have stuff -- files, diary entiries, comments to stories, web pages, articles, etc -- scattered across the Web (and the Internet in general) with no easy way for me to see them without having to hunt them all down.
I do not think we can simply do away with user accounts. There is
a need to have an identity. For example, simply letting everyone
just post to a forum, without having some way of telling the author
of one post (in the forum) from another would be incredibly confusing.
Sure a person could sign each post at the end -- like a letter -- with
But this technique of identifying people has problems. For one, what if
you forgot to sign it? Also, what if someone else gives something they write
your signature (and impresinates you)? So this would seem to not
be the answer.
Blah, blah, blah. Blah blah!
Some groups now have universal account systems that can be used
from website to website. That way you only have to remember one user name
and one password. [Example of these systems are:
Microsoft's Passport, and
If anyone else knows of any more examples, I would like to here about them.]
These systems make it so any website can use these account systems as their own; and thus
fixing problem (1) [listed at the begining of this artcle]. And this
technique seems no less safe or secure (to the user) than each
website having their own accounting system; although there are issues with privacy [with these systems].
As an alternate possibility, we could use digital signing techniques to digitally
sign everything. [An example of this technique would be the use of public-key/private-key techniques.
I not an expert on this topic, so I would be interested in hearing other methods for digitally
signing things.] This too solve problem (1) [listed at the begining of this artcle].
But are these the only techniques? You tell me.
Also, problem (2) [listed at the begining of this artcle] has not been solved
by any of these. None of these techniques gives me an easy way of seeing
all my stuff scattered across the Web.
I think whatever the solution is used [to solve problem (1) and problem (2)
listed at the begining of this artcle], we need to give the user as much privacy as possible.
The universal account systems [like
Microsoft's Passport and
AOL ScreenNames] have the problem that
one entity will be tracking your activities on the Web. [Something I have a huge
Also, if you were thinking that to solve problem (2) [listed at the begining of this artcle],
to have a central website, or some other entity, have a records to keep track of all your stuff,
then I would say think again. This too does not respect your privacy.
As I see it, the best way to solve problem (1) [listed at the begining of this artcle],
is to use digital signing techniques [without a central place that gives out
and stores signatures, but where everyone can create and use a signature at their whim].
And, the best way to solve problem (2) [listed at the begining of this artcle], is
for each user to have some kind of application [that they are in complete control of] that will
keep track of their stuff. [Of course to do this, some kind of infrastucture, on the web,
needs to be created. Maybe a system similar to the RSS system -- a custom XML format that is used to
generate data, given a user has authenticated themselves, which is all communicated over a secure connection.]
But that's my opinion (given my knowledge of things, right now). So what does everyone else have
to say? What does everyone else think?