brad, Chief Architect and founder of LJ, recently announced that he had produced YADIS, Yet Another Distributed Identity System. You may already have a Microsoft Passport account, which is a single account that lets you use Hotmail, MSN, MSN Messenger, Starbucks, OfficeMax, possibly eBay and a few other sites; the theory is that such convenience is useful, but having Microsoft be the administrator of the scheme raises a number of trust issues. YADIS might eventually be developed into a system to let you post with your LJ identity on another blog, to let someone who uses another blogging system post using their identity on your blog or - most interestingly - to let someone of your choice, who is not a LJ member, see your Friends-locked posts. (I suspect they couldn't come outside LJ through a RSS feed, though.)
Quite a few friends of mine post to their own blogs which don't use LJ and I follow these blogs using RSS feeds. (Scarily, some of my friends don't have blogs at all, as unlikely as that thought seems.) If you are one of these folk whose non-LJ blog I read and if I've met you, I would certainly like to share my Friends-only posts with you if you wanted to see them. It's also frustrating not being able to share my Friends-locked posts with Friends I have who don't blog at all. All this also makes me feel a little bad towards the people who have Friended me but I haven't Friended back, but, you know, it's only LiveJournal, and I only hold it against one or two people who haven't Friended me back. (Mostly joking there...)
Should this functionality develop further, it's interesting to think about whether this information will be listed on a userinfo page somehow - so each person might have a list of Friends and a list of non-LJ Friends who are able to see (default) Friends-locked posts. Then by logical extension, if the functionality exists to reveal Friends-locked posts to (non-)Friends who aren't on LJ, the functionality would exist to reveal Friends-locked posts to non-Friends who are on LJ. This would then be an implementation of the ability to open your Friends-locked posts to someone but to be honest to them that you don't necessarily read their posts in return, which some have asked for. LiveJournal happily gives you the very powerful facility to create custom filters which are subsections of your Friends list so that you can lock posts to subsets of your Friends, or only read posts made by subsets of your Friends. I don't assume that, just because you've listed me as a Friend, you necessarily read all my posts or give me access to all your Friends-locked posts; this would be a tool which would make the process a little more transparent.
Brad realises that there are many other such distributed identity schemes and has entitled his own accordingly; in the release notes, he acknowledges the other distributed identity systems that exist and comments as to why he hasn't decided to go with one of them. (That's the thing about standards; it's always fun to try to get other people to accept yours!) However, he comments "If something like this already exists and I don't know about it, do let me know. My goal isn't to reinvent the wheel... just find something that everybody can easily use." and already he has been pointed to something very similar. Brad was hoping to avoid the duplication of effort, but at least he knows the system forwards, backwards and inside-out now... coming soon to a LJ near you, I reckon. Watch this space!
Incidentally, I reckon that Brad looks like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition's Ty Pennington. Yes? No? Anyone got any pictures of Ty looking like Brad?
Unrelatedly, one of my non-LJ Friends points to http://www.woot.com/ which I hadn't seen before, though I liked the name. It's very similar indeed to those shopping channels which wheel on overstocked consumer electronics and the like for sale at bargain prices. However, this has a certain sense of style to it; they encourage community better than most, welcoming both good and bad feedback about the items they sell, and aren't afraid to be irreverent about their products (read the description). Occasionally they will go into "woot-off" mode and sell off overstock item after overstock item, maybe forty in a row. Occasionally they will invite you to send in money for a Bag Of Crap, to clear out their smaller overstocked items. Their prices are pretty good, but not earth-shatteringly so; pretty typical overstock rates, really. Shouldn't work, but it seems to do so. I guess that's the effect of style for you.