A day after my computer died, Bob Blakley e-mailed me to let me know he had started blogging (and that it was in part my doing) for blogging his talk at Catalyst.
Here is his first post – Identity is a Story.
my comment: Indeed it is. I wrote a great resume story when I applied to work as a blogger at SpikeSource (I knew they never would hire me if I didn’t tell the story of why they should based on my past experience). Needless to say they hired me and then didn’t let me blog so that gig was over fairly fast.
He is very articulate about the range of issues that aries around identity:
I think identity behaves in consistent and predictable ways in the real world, BUT most contemporary discussions of identity are completely out of touch with what identity really is and how it really works. To understand how identity behaves, it’s necessary to distinguish the different uses people make of identity, and consider each of those uses individually.
I think a set of axioms of identity can be defined which describe what identity can and cannot do, and what it will and will not do in particular circumstances. We can enumerate these axioms by looking at centuries of thought about identity and examining that thought in the light of situations which occur in the real world today.
I think that systems designed with the axioms of identity in mind will be more effective than systems designed without regard for the axioms.
I think that the axioms define how identity and privacy are related, and can help illuminate when we can determine identity, when we can protect privacy, when we must choose, and when we are out of luck on both counts.
He recommends a book that goes in the philosophical direction The Identities of Persons. Just for fun on Amazon I surfed around this book through the “people who bought this book also bought this and similar items. Just two steps away in the Amazon Cloud of related books are Modern Cosmology and Philosphy, Methods of Ethics, Metaphors We Live By. This highlights how closely Identity and its meaning are tied.
This transitions me over to another subject of the week Y!-Flkr eruptions. There was quite a fuss over the Yahoo! ID – Flickr ID linking (or optional linking). Mary Hodder did a great job of articulating the very real human issues of identity surrounding this storm. Truly every time we login with an handle of any kind – that is an identity of ours. It is not just an entry in a database not just bits or just identifiers. These are identifiers of people. Why does this matter? Cause people are not just web resources.
One of the people who works for me showed me a database on Monday, while we were discussing the Flickhoo flap, that she’s been maintaining for the past 10 years of all of her logins all over the internet. She has 249 different logins at that many sites. Solving this problem, so that she could just use one or two or three logins everywhere, makes a lot of sense.
Mary did a great job of articulating a cool way out of the dilemma – give them all i-names and let Yahoo! become an I-broker! Let Flickr give all their folks i-names and let them manage their own Identity and choose if they want to host to i-names together in one broker or keep them separate. [she gets the syntax a bit wrong Yahoo could change them easily into @yahoo*username accounts]
And Yahoo could really take the lead on Identity Management by adopting a system that would create simplicity for users, and simplicity for themselves. And turn down the public relations flap a notch when they acquire companies and have to integrate users and ID’s into the company.
Ryan King (currently of Technorati) made a comment that seemed to come from the very technical utilitarian perspective:
The Yahoo/Flickr changes have nothing to do with identity- its only the login procedure, which is now done with an email address.
Even “if” all it means that you now login to Flickr using a YahooID, then those two identities are linked. Yahoo can go in and look at your flickr picks and the tags and aggregate more information about you in its digital dossier. Yahoo uses the information about you that it observes while you move about it to send you ads you will like and other stuff (I don’t really use Yahoo! day-to-day [I do have a really really old login that is my messenger identity and one e-mail account for emergencies], so I am not up on the full user experience there. But they are becoming a cooler company so maybe I will join in but not likely until they are a member of Identity Commons and Attention Trust so I can better trust their use of my identity and information associated with it). This is what helps them make money off you – selling annoying adds around the real information you want to see.
What if they went to a permission marketing model with i-names as is suggested near the end of Dear Marketers, An Open Letter from your Customers in July 2005 and these use cases articulated by Fen two years ago? Fen also wrote about a service he envisioned and tried to build News Peek that is currently a lot like what the blogosphere offers. I think we are on the cusp of ‘getting identity’ there enough folks involved like Bob, Doc, Drummond, Kim, Paul, Jamie, John, and Owen who are wise enough to understand and lead the industry wrestling with the human social issues that arise.
OK and now for blog number two. It is another gentleman that I encouraged to start blogging in the field – Eric Hall of EDS. His blog WhyID (wide-eyed) has been going along since just after Catalyst when we met. His perspective leading teams of 100’s working on large scale enterprise integration is valuable to consider when we are talking about provisioning the millions of people on the web with identity. I hope you all get a chance to look over his last two months of writing, and add the RSS to your stack of feeds.