My recent post on Google's identity silo was part of a hailstorm (pun intended) of comments that occurred on the email list over at the Identity Gang. All of those fast-flying emails unveiled what I'm now calling the "identity silo paradox."
Put simply the identity silo paradox is this: The largest sites on the internet have built silos (some ever-deepening) of identity information. Simultaneously, the "identirati" have been working on standards and methods that are based on the premise of opening up those silos, yet (paradox coming) the large sites currently have no valid business reason for doing so. Why would eBay open up their reputation system? Why would Google allow you to use a Yahoo! credential to login to their systems?
The paradox highlights the tricky period of transitional time that we're living in. While nearly everybody acknowledges that we need an "internet-scale" identity mechanism, there is currently no visible reason for opening up the identity silos. No reason, that is, from the business point of view.
The driver behind the paradox is simple: the web, to this point, has monetized itself almost solely around the aggregation of users and user data. Overcoming the paradox demands that the value extracted from the web comes from some mechanism other than user aggregation.
Is that possible? I hope so, but it will require that the businesses on the web begin to look at things from the "user's" point of view.