You can log in to comment here on ReadWriteWeb with an OpenID, via Facebook Connect or through various other methods. Imagine if you could make “friend” connections with other commenters on our site. That relationship wouldn’t be reflected back into the OpenID or Facebook account that you then take to other sites.
If it did, that could be a real game changer. We’d love to introduce our smart and sassy readers to each other here and then see them be friends on social networks, mobile sites and all around the web. Just a pipe dream? That’s what a brand new identity provider called Cliqset aims to make possible. We believe it’s the first identity provider of its type that allows 3rd parties to change user profile information, not just read it.
Cliqset isn’t a social network that you’d go and join like you would others, it’s more like the glue that ties together your identities across all supporting social networks. Unlike other similar services, though, this portable system of identity, contacts and activities works two ways. It allows your identity to be changed by what you do around the web, it doesn’t just serve up a centralized identity to dependent lesser networks you log in to. This identity provider could treat supporting sites much more as equals than Facebook does, for example.
Cliqset uses the OAuth data standard to do all this, so it doesn’t even have to ask for your password to the networks you want to connect.
Who’s using Cliqset so far? Unfortunately, the geeks behind Cliqset don’t do a very good job explaining what they do and they don’t have any examples other than their own site today at launch.
That could change soon, though. The company has released a variety of code libraries for developers to drop Cliqset support into their applications. At launch there are Java, iPhone and .net for Windows Mobile libraries. A PHP library is forthcoming. All the libraries will be open sourced and posted to Google Code.
Facebook Connect lets 3rd parties publish updates to a user’s activity stream, but that’s about it. We asked a number of hardcore identity geeks whether they had seen anything quite like Cliqset before and no one had. There are OpenID and related specifications aiming to accomplish just this, but nothing in the wild yet, according to the OpenID Foundation and Six Apart’s David Recordon.
Recordon is a little concerned about seeing another company release an API to accomplish what Cliqset aims to do. “At first glance, it seems like Cliqset is leaning in the correct direction with their support of OAuth for APIs and OpenID for sign in, but are still creating their own APIs – ala Facebook Connect – when dealing with profiles and activities,” he told us. “This is both yet another validation of the work by the wider DiSo community and opportunity to finalize the Portable Contacts and Activity Streams specifications for broad adoption on the social web.”
We asked Cliqset specifically about Facebook Connect, whether it wasn’t in the company’s interest to implement a Read/Write capability in its identity system as well. They said they believed it was but that they expected the giant social network to take much longer to implement this key feature. By offering iPhone and Windows Mobile libraries right out of the gate, we think Cliqset could move quickly in the mobile world as well.
Unfortunately, the company isn’t doing a terribly good job of explaining its fundamental value proposition so far. We’re not the first site to cover Cliqset today (see PC World’s coverage for example) and everyone else is writing up the company as just one more cross-site identity provider. There’s more than that going on here, but we’ll see if this startup with what it calls “the most robust APIs you’ll find anywhere” is able to make the market headway that its innovative vision seems to warrant.