Today marked the kickoff of this week's Internet Identity Workshop at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. Why care about digital identity? From mashups to digital rights management to web services, the individual's control over his or her identity has reemerged as a prominent issue:
Eugene Kim laid the groundwork by defining the market value inherent to one's identity. Kim was making the AttentionTrust arguments, but regarding control over your own identity as vs. control over your attention data. (Disclosure note: Omidyar Network is a funder of AttentionTrust.) Beyond market value, it is important to be aware that people currently rely upon data supplied by third parties that do not have a vested interest in the sustainability of the data. For example, people that put their eBay reputation onto their resumes, or build knowledge bases that depend upon a specific environment, but what happens if the associated vendors decide that this information has no value, and that access to this information should be discontinued?
Many people are attached to their usernames. Kim asks, what happens when Yahoo! acquires Flickr, and everyone at Flickr needs to change their usernames because they are not available at Yahoo!? People were up in arms about it. (See the Flick Off post.) There are both technical and social challenges to user-centric identity, and the social issues are harder to address.
- Common language
- Consistent user experience
- Protocol-neutral frameworks
- New social/legal norms
Trevithick explored various dynamics that surround the issue of personal identity - complexity of attributes, claims established about your identity by others, and the role of identity as a security token. He also shared a reasonably common glossary for the subject.
Joahnnes Ernst from NetMesh got up to talk about URL-based identity and the Yadis project, but the sound in the room was so terrible that I couldn't hear a word he said. Presumably it was in line with what I heard about Yadis at Etel. Annoying. At least it was a community-building experience for the last few rows, who mostly talked amongst themselves for the duration.