This whole set of issues around DNS, ICANN and the US Commerce Department that came out at the end of June is relevant for us identity folk do reflect upon given the upcoming discussions about governance of the identity layer.
Cognitive Linguistics 101
we talk about things in the terms of other things
The REAL Matrix is the set of concepts we use to make sense of the world. We are not conscious of them. But they do our thinking and talking for us.
The Real Matrix is metaphors we talk about everything in terms of other things. We literally borrow whole vocabularies. Unconsiously.
Every Metaphor is a box of borrowed words – Concepts that frame our understanding.
Time is Money – we waste it save it spend it invest it lose it and set it aside
Life is Travel – Birth is arrival. Death is departure. Choices are crossroads and careers are paths.
What do we understand the NET in terms of …
Define broadcasting as transporting content. Not as speech.
Broadcast moves content through media. Speech happens in place.
There’s a fight going on between metaphors on the Net and the Web
- We “move” “content” through a “medium” with a “transport” protocol. So, it’s about shipping.
- We “architect,” “design,” “construct” and “build” “sites” with “addresses” and “locations” with “traffic.” So, its about real estate.
- We “write” or author” “pages and “files” of “writing that we “browse.” So, its about writing.
- We “perform” for an “audience” that has an “experience.” So it’s about theater.
The FCC does not currently view the net as a place. It sees it as a broadcasting and communications infrastructure that they should regulate. See this post…
Speech informs. It is not about delivering content. The difference is critical – information is a commodity – it is derived from the verb to inform. Which is derived from the verb to form. Meaning that we actually form each other. We are changed by what we learn from each other. Authority is the right we give each other to form and shape what we know. Much of what happens on the net is sharing and improving ideas. This is how syndication happens and how new standards and practices grow in Blogging, podcasting, tags, identity and much more…
IDENTITY GANG is highlighted as an example of the snowball that can emerge out of conversations and how snowballs form.
Doc shows us the reason internet radio was killed – government regulation. This is the kind of government regulation that drives CATO and company crazy…I am beginning to see the reason they are anti-regulation – highly complex, requires teams of lawyers to discern and ‘follow’ correctly.
How do we use language in the identity space? How can be be more conscious of the language we are choosing to use? I hope that next ID Gang and at Catalyst we can have a few deep conversations on this. It also relates to policy usability. The terms we use to describe identity sharing policies must use appropriate language (metaphor) to describe what is going on.
To prepare to talk with Susan Crawford I thought I would scan her three year old blog for any menitons of Identity. It turns out that Susan has done some extensive thought about identity and in particular in the context of online gaming. She has a link to a paper – Who’s in Charge of Who I am?: Identity and the Law Online. Here are some good quotes…
Online identities are emergent. Identity is by definition a group project, something created by the context in which the identified operates.
Online walled gardens will be come more prevalent, as concerns about security, viruses, spam and the unknown increase, as valuable content is made accessible only to those who have been permissioned to see it, and as hardware and software systems made available to the masses increasingly taken on “trusted” aspects. Online games are precursors of these future more serious, walled garden online worlds. Key characteristics of both games and walled worlds are limited access, clear boundaries, rules, roles/players, and feedback mechanisms that create reputation. … These characteristics of games make them ideal laboratories for experimentation with rulesets.
This is a great mention of the word – rulesets. I have been thinking a lot about them ever since I read Thomas Barnett’s book – The Pentagon’s New Map. How we as a society and how institutions that govern us determine what the ruleset’s are is important to think about. With the complexifying world we live in – robust, legitimate and fair systems to create good rulesets are needed. This is particularly true in the online space that is really built by and for us. I hope that all the effort that has gone into creating the Identity Commons structure can be just such a place.
Back to Susan…
Who owns identity? who owns reputation? From the intermediary’s perspective, software creates rules that control what social context can be moved elsewhere. Your identity is “really” a database entry, and the intermediary can argue that your identity is their intellectual property, not yours. You may attach great importance to it, but this identity (and its reputation) will not as a practical matter survive outside the world in which it was formed. Walled world designers have incentives to raise switching costs and capture all the vale of this reputation. In other words, controllers of online worlds are gods. But users may defect from environments and attempt to constrain them in how persistent their reputations and identities are. The difficult task for developers/intermediaries is how much freedom to give their users. This takes us from the realm of risks to the realm of opportunities.
AS real work becomes a more common online activity, identity created in connection with groups will be more and more meaningful.
Human nature will always tend toward group-ness.
- What would be made visisble? The fact that someone’s identity has been taken away, and the reasons why? Or speech-related actions of the intermediary that have an impact on identity (but are less then “disappearing” someone?)
- What about reputation? Is it right that a user must leave her reputation behind when she leaves a particular online world? Is “reputation portability” possible? Or is reputation so context-dependent that the online world should be permitted to own it? And what does the online world own exactly? A group-created construct?
- Is this entire problem avoided by staying out of “walled gardens” and maintaining our own domains? Will this be possible, as online worlds become more and more attractive, and as hardware and software increasingly intertwine?
In the end, it boils down to the fact that the best government is the one that you can trust, which will be the one you know personally: the people close to you in your virtual community, who are held accountable precisely because of community ties. Your best government is going to be each other, because the man behind the curtain isn’t going to know any more than you know him.
We are still in the early stages of the first two steps dealing with any technology: fear and opportunism. Enlightenment is not far away. I want to suggest that we skip quickly through the fear, linger on the opportunism, and move on to human betterment. This social benefit may come (as so many things do) from playfulness. Games have a great deal to teach us about how we establish and maintain identity. Now we need to consider who is in charge of these identities. It may be, in the end, that we are.
We need to forge a direct link between how we live and work online (especially within walled gardens) and how we structure control over online resources. If the new mode of work online is collaborative peer-production of resources, who will own a shared online space of identities? This ownership may have to be collective. The fundamental problem that is yet to be address is that while reputations and identities are group projects, legal ownership of collectively-created intangible identities currently appears to reside (by default) in online intermediaries. We may need to make some noise about this and ensure a better fit. Perhaps the game should belong to the players.
She raises some interesting questions for us to think about. I think looking at the governance and how to actualize that – this is what the distributed governance form of Identity Commons is designed to do. I didn’t really realize that she was involved with XNSORG several years back. She really liked you all and mentioned Bill Washburn and Drummond Reed by name.
While talking with her about identity and her paper she mentioned her connection to the State of Play conferences. The third one is coming up this fall and is entightled Social Revolution. Two panels look very relevant:
- Collective Action in the Metaverse: Groups, Community and Power
- Identity in the Metaverse: On-Line Identity in Virtual Worlds
It is the day after Web 2.0 but might be worth the trip 🙂
WOW this is a cool opportunity for the XRI/XDI crowd – along with CivicSpace.
Reported by Abject Learning in May:
What did we propose to do? Nothing less than creating and sharing a framework for social software applications for BC’s higher education institutions. In less grandiose terms, we have proposed to create a set of policy recommendations, tutorials, templates, and multimedia resources that can be reused by a school that wants to support weblogging and wiki use (and possibly other social software tools) for its own community. We also hope to foster a community-centered model for sharing expertise amongst practitioners attempting to develop their own projects.
We intend the project to be platform-agnostic: we will definitely be using Movable Type and Drupal, but do our best to ensure that resources we create are not tied in with any one system. If possible, we might partner with mini-projects using tools such as WordPress, ELGG, or even Blogger.
It seems like it would be a lot easier for students if they could use a single log-in I-name across different institutions and schools.
One of the things that I remembered I had to catch up on and start following more was Jaco’s work in Costa Rica around Identity Rights.
This is Drummond’s post on the passage of real legislation in this area.
FAQ’s about LID from Johannes Ernst’s Blog – I think they apply to the work happening around XRI/XDI and Identity Commons stuff. I am going to do my part by working on doing some essays with lots of simple diagrams to explain the ecology of organizations and roles. Hopefully we can also do a short video about it too.
What’s your measure of how complex a single-sign-on technology can be so it can be adopted broadly?
A weekend of implementation effort, maximum. Here’s why: SSO only makes sense if basically everybody can implement it. That includes a lot of players, from your 401k plan (who could probably afford a lot more than that) down to the message board of the parent-teacher assocation that’s run by Joey’s dad on his home Linux server. Joey’s dad is not going to spend more than a weekend of his time to make it work. He’s also not going to go out and buy expensive software. He might download some Perl, but that’s about it. Ergo: one weekend, no more.
I have just gotten back into the swing of things – reading all the blogs I should be etc. I am starting off where I put things down about two months ago (I have 4000+ posts to scan/read in my identity streams folder).
Reading this post by Mary I remember the citizens jouranlism day that was less then ideal. The whole event got me thinking about the art and skill involved in creating good containers for people to gather in. The day was a disaster on a bunch of levels.
- First of all there was no clear map to get to the location. After we arrived Mary and I made a sign out of a paper bag to make sure others coming after us would actually know where to turn in.
- It was summer in SF at the Precido – for those of you who don’t know that means it will likely be very cold, windy and foggy. People were not warmed of this and so basically everyone was freezing.
- This was a meeting about internet citizen journalism – I had assumed we would be meeting in a building with wifi – not the case.
- When one calls an event and it has a start time – it is good for the host to actually show up prior to that time to welcome folks. Our host that day arrived an hour late and got to saying hello to everyone at 1.5 hours after the stated start time.
- It is good to feed people at events – so there was some effort made in this direction – hotdogs and hambergers. No one was really organized to actually cook the food. Two of the women who were just there to participate ended up taking the lead in preparing food. They had not volunteered for this role before hand but no one was doing it so they stepped in and cooked.
- After introductions concluded we all moved down to the internet archive – this was a packed room and 30+ people were trying to have one conversation. We were all looking to the organizers for some structure to the conversation – none was really provided.
- I am told that after I left the conversation did get better.
I am not writing this to be purely critical but to highlight some real world examples of the challenges that aries when organizing in person event. Consciousness about how to bring people together could be further cultivated in this community. 40 amazing people were asked to and willingly volunteered 6 hours of their time on a SUNDAY to join this discussion. More attention and for thought could have been given to the container created.
This metaphor of the container is one that comes from my work in spiritual activism. How are you going to honor peoples time and the gifts they are bringing to what ever purpose you have. This container involves the whole of the event:
- the initial intention
- who is included in manifesting the intention
- who is invited
- choice of process and facilitation
- proposed goals outcomes
- the physical aspects of the event –
- Location – inside/outside – bigroom/lots of small rooms – bathrooms or not
- nourishment needs (food and drink)
The creation of a strong community container is one of the keys to success for online worlds too. Claire from SUN has this post referencing Caterina Fake about how they (FLICKR) focused (and continue to focus) very strongly on the container of community. This positive field of feedback has drawn energy towards them.
People are more likely to work well together well not only when they have a common interest or shared set of goals – but also when there is a personal connection. I try to work well with most people, but I’m much more motivated to to cut people slack when I know a little bit about who they are, when I can tease them about their taste in a band called FloggingMolly, when I know that they like to delve into 1337 5p34k on occasion, or if I know that her talented brother went to RISD and is friends with the infamous creator of of Andre The Giant Has A Posse.
Caterina Fake of Flickr fame recently blogged about building a flickricious sense of community (gotta love that word) – and the importance of personal connections caught my eye. One relevant quote from Caterina – the part about personal – and authentic – communication is at the end of the paragraph:
“In the beginning, the creators of the community space have to create the tone and attitude of the place, set the parameters of what is and what is not allowed, and participate heavily, engaging directly with other people, mercilessly kicking/banning trolls, creating a real sense of there being a there there. Friendster, and the banning of “Fakesters” is often used as an example of a misunderstanding of online community — but I think this misunderstanding went back further, to the beginning. I was an early member of Friendster and, the first message I got was from the founder. “How do you like the service?” he asked, and not — and this is really the crux of it — “Pynchon! Man, how can you read that stuff! DeLillo is 10X better.” or “ZEPPELIN ROX! Zoso is my favorite album!!!” I’d filled out a profile. See what I mean?”
What’s the conclusion? Growing the OpenSolaris community is going to involve building lots of these personal connections. Personal and authentic, not stiff and corporate. Cool.
Yahoo has this great post on Social Search. Guess what. it is a heck of a lot easier with Identity.
- The trusted web Anyone can save, tag, and share knowledge with their community.
- Personalized search My Web 2.0 is powered by Yahoo!’s new MyRank Search Technology, which provides personalized search results based on the shared knowledge of the people they trust.
- Control over what is shared and with whom Each page saved and tagged can be shared with the world, just with friends and their friends, or kept private.
- Structured tagging The internet is about much more than web pages – key dimensions like time and location can be as important as the content itself.
- Open APIs – Through the use of My Web 2.0’s XML and RDF APIs , a whole host of new applications can be built – like what the folks in the Stanford University TAP project are working on.