OpenID at the MIT Media Lab

Takashi Okamoto, a researcher at the MIT Media Lab, has created an OpenID based RunLog. RunLog is a lightweight tool for tracking the distances you’ve run, and ranks you against other site users based on your overall distance, and session distance average.

Okamoto writes:

RunLog uses OpenID for user authentication, and all applications I build this year will use it. Hopefully this means it will be easier on everybody, no more remembering username and password for every different site you use. RunLog is also a social network. Hopefully, by support (or pressure you feel) from other users, it will influence people to keep on going.

I’ve added my two most recent runs, for a total of 8.5 miles with a session average of 4.25 miles. I’m aiming to run four or five miles twice a week, in addition to some cycling.

There are lots of athletic training log sites out there. Heck, I even wrote my own personal one with the intent of putting it online, but the features quickly started to outweigh the utility and I abandoned it. What makes RunLog cool is it’s simplicity and lack of features. It does one thing, and does it well, and the use of OpenID helps make it easy for users to sign in, log their run, and move on with life.

Others at the media lab are also discussing OpenID. Brent Fitzgerald is talking about it in relation to the physical language workshop, and John Maeda writes about RunLog on his laws of simplicity blog:

I wish that one of the Laws of Simplicity were to exercise more instead of less. But who needs laws when you have great services on the Web like Tak Okamoto’s new RunLog! Yes there are many such services on the Web, but the cool thing about Tak’s system is that it uses OpenID. The concept behind OpenID is important: one login for all the things you like to do on the Web. That’s right–no more confusion about your various logins/passwords and so forth. A lot of it of course inevitably depends upon trust, but OpenID is actually well thought out in this area.

Maeda also points to his eighth law of simplicity:

8thlaw.png

There is a lot of talk about identity and trust, but this law approaches it from a different angle: Users trust things they understand. Earn trust by keeping it simple. RunLog is a perfect example of this.

~Brian Ellin