WebFinger: a finger protocol for the Web

August 15th, 2009

Maybe WebFinger will succeed where others have failed. At what? At providing a simple handle for a person that can be easily used to get basic information that the person wants to make available. The WebFinger proposal is to use an email address as the handle.

WebFinger, aka Personal Web Discovery. i.e. We’re bringing back the finger protocol, but using HTTP this time.

Techcrunch has a post on this, Google Points At WebFinger. Your Gmail Address Could Soon Be Your ID with some background.

There’s some excitement around the web today among a certain group of high profile techies. What are they so excited about? Something called WebFinger, and the fact that Google is apparently getting serious about supporting it. So what is it?

It’s an extension of something called the “finger protocol” that was used in the earlier days of the web to identify people by their email addresses. As the web expanded, the finger protocol faded out, but the idea of needing a unified way to identify yourself has not. That’s why you keep hearing about OpenID and the like all the time.

The current focus of the WebFinger group is on developing the spec for accessing a user’s metadata given their handle. Using RDF and the FOAF vocabulary should be a no-brainer for representing the metadata.