For those of you who aren’t acquainted with OpenID, it is “an open, decentralized, free framework for user-centric digital identity.” The first thing that is needed for such a framework is a way of authenticating identity. So, instead of having to keep track of passwords for lots of different systems, using OpenID, you can have one password, authenticated at a specific place, which is used to sign in at many sites.
Currently, if you have userids at LiveJournal, Wordpress, Vox, AOL, you have an easy to use OpenID userid already. If you use Yahoo!, you can indirectly use idproxy.net. You can also add code to your own site so that it will point to one of these as the authentication service. Currently, Orient Lodge is pointing to my Yahoo! id via idproxy.net.
All of this is well and good, if you can log into other sites using OpenID. Slowly, more and more sites are supporting OpenID, and now (at least until something breaks), you can log into Orient Lodge using OpenID. Read the details below the fold.
Today, another job lead ended up at a closed door. I remembered the line from Maria in the Sound of Music, “when the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” As I’ve written before, I sure hope I can find that open window soon. I suspect a lot of us have similar feelings. On one mailing list, a friend wrote,
I also think that we're getting a lot of people burned out from lack of progress. With the cave-in and other disappointments, a lot of people … are throwing their hands up and walking away. I'd love to figure out how to avoid that.
Yet today I also received an email from a friend that had driven in from out of state to help with Ned Lamont’s U.S. Senate run last year. She talked about driving back home after the victory party on primary night, and her friend bouncing around the passenger seat saying, “MY WHOLE LIFE JUST CHANGED! MY WHOLE LIFE JUST CHANGED!!!.”
Her friend is now working as an online activist for a non-profit in Washington. Many of us have been changed by our involvement in campaigns like Gov. Dean’s 2004 Presidential bid, or Ned Lamont’s 2006 U.S. Senate bid. It’s transformational politics and we’ve been transformed. Yeah, we have frustrations that progress isn’t coming as quickly as possible, that our finances are much more tenuous than we’d like. We’re frustrated that the opportunities to be transformed don’t seem to be as apparent in the 2008 cycle as they were in 2004 or 2006, yet we keep on looking for the open window that we know is there.
At Personal Democracy Forum, Matt Stoller presented his 'crazy uncle' theory of internet politics.
He starts off with:
A few years ago, I had what's called a 'crazy uncle' theory of internet politics. I noticed that the figures who did well online all seemed like a crazy uncle saying things that are true but extremely uncomfortable, that power and authority was built on silly illusions.
He ends off with:
The internet is a revolutionary cultural shift, but alone, it was not enough to spark a political movement. What that took was a series of actions by our governing elites that betrayed and threatened millions of liberals…
We are an outgrowth of that culture, a kind of mashup between people who feel betrayed by the right and people who feel comfortable with an open internet platform. We're going to keep getting stronger, because openness is immensely compelling. People have had a taste of power, and it's intoxicating. It's almost as if we're beginning to listen to that crazy uncle who comes over for Thanksgiving and tells you your life is built on comfortable illusions. I mean, he was kind of crazy, but he was also usually right.
Well, I’ve always felt quite a bit of affinity for the crazy uncle myself. I think of the uncles in Chekhov's plays, and I think of Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In Zen, Pirsig writes a bit about systems, both motorcycles, and governments, and observes,
If a revolution destroys a systematic government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then the patterns will repeat themselves in the succeeding government.
I worry that ‘the open left’ may become intoxicated by its power, and that intoxication may bring about a new set of betrayals perhaps no different than the betrayals that Richard Viguerie believes Bush and Other Big Government Republicans foisted upon the conservatives.
But then again, I just might be another crazy old uncle.