Information for All Considering Running for the Board

I am pleased to announce the opening of the 2010 OpenID Foundation Board nomination and election process.  The information below shares some context for the election and is intended for you – the person out there considering running, nominating or voting in the upcoming OpenID Foundation election.

This election will hit the refresh button on OIDF for 2010. I am pleased to report the “foundation” of the foundation is solid. New financial, administrative and legal measures are in place. Our budget was carefully mapped and still able to respond to the government’s open identity initiative. Because of all that and more, the newly elected community representatives will have a major influence on 2010 plans, priorities and budget. The focus on security and usability at last week’s OpenID Summit at Yahoo! and follow up discussions at the IIW reflected the key concerns of the current board. The “state of OpenID security” work Jeff Hodges, Ashish Jain and others did inventoried the security challenges we still face. Allan Tom, Breno de Medeiros and others laid out key issues in presentations on the “state of usability.”  New “product” improvement initiatives like those discussed in Dick Hart and David Recordon’s IIW session on V.Next and new “cloud” and active “client” selector demos all point to renewed energy for building on core OpenID technology.

Just as OpenID technology is evolving, how the board works must change.  Organizations that have transitioned from specification development to market adoption (the space we entered this year) have evolved their governance and membership programs to meet operational and financial objectives.  In order to improve the core technology “product”, drive RP adoption and increase member services, we need to find ways to offer more membership value and create diversified sources of income.  2010’s board members will consider how best to balance competing priorities with still unfolding value in the trust framework and certification work to do with the US government and others.  We’ve been told by experts that demand for certification is a leading indicator of the growth and maturity of a technology standard.  How we do certification will, in part, shape our future. Our discussions have us looking beyond the US government requirements to broader market adoption dynamics. The IIW community’s “acid test” greatly improved the working hypothesis that RP adoption can be best served by a synchronized and phased focus on both technology interoperability and policy certification.

In an organization like ours, leadership must come from all quarters.  As an essentially volunteer run organization, change – whether to a website page or working group – is in the hands of those motivated to act. The OpenID foundation remains a unique mash up of democracy, meritocracy and technology.  A few months ago, I took great pride in introducing the OpenID Board to Vivek Kundra, the US CIO at the White House.  I made sure Vivek knew the people he was meeting were not the usual suspects of lawyers and lobbyists, but the engineers and computer scientists who wrestled daily with the most challenging problems of internet identity.  The government adoption provided a forcing function for OpenID technology, community collaboration, and a bit of history making.

Over a glass of wine, Nat Sakimura, Andrew Nash and I were riffing on the OpenID Foundation’s “mission.” We kept pushing beyond: “stewardship of intellectual property.” “Enabling trust” wasn’t good enough but the Japanese translation of “trust” into “a feeling of safety” and being “at ease” began to capture what OpenID might someday bring to users. It hints at how important our work can be. For myself, I believe an “open” reliable, “trusted” identity standard can be the next key operational piece of Internet infrastructure. It can be to the identity layer what DNS is to the Web layer and IP is to the packet layer. In that way, the mission of the OpenID foundation and the leadership of its board can build something sustainable and important on behalf of internet users.

The contribution of your leadership on our board and active engagement as members of our foundation is highly encouraged.  Employment in any company is not a barrier. Please carefully consider your nomination and those of others.  A FAQ with specific details on the election process is available at

Thanks for your support. 2009 has been an extraordinary year, 2010 promises much more.

Don Thibeau
Executive Director