Friday, April 01, 2005

Identity heating up

Out of my own interest I happened two write two recent posts on the topic of identity on the net ("Network Personal Identity (NPI)" and "Multiple levels for network personal identity") and now I'm seeing posts by others suggesting that interest in this area is really heating up. For example, Robert Scoble posted "It's time to put identity on the top of tech world's agenda" last night that references yet some other posts.

Network identity is nothing new per se, with Passport and Liberty and other efforts, but somehow there was never quite a critical mass. My perspective is that we never had a rock-solid problem statement, let alone a rock-solid requirements specification. Much effort has been wasted due to posturing and seeking to gain competitive advantage. Still, even besides all of that, there is this really tough problem of wanting to have control by users and a computational trust-building mechanism, while at the same time avoiding even the slightest tinge of "Big Brother".

Personally, I'm opposed to indentity solutions that are being promulgated by large organizations, whether it be Microsoft or Sun or IBM or the government or whoever. I'm also opposed to any lame, brain-damaged "open source" children's crusade approach. I think the ultimate solution(s) will involve public domain source code, but not done in some fanatical way that is merely a ruse to disrupt intellectual property (IP) rights.

Ultimately, I think what will happen is that lots and lots of ideas will be floated around and shot at and eventually a few ideas will survive and interest will coalesce around them. It's not necessary to have a single identity concept, but rather we need a close but relatively loose umbrella that will support any number of viable candidates. This would be analogous to "feeds", with multiple competing "standards" (RSS, Atom, etc.) that have just barely enough in common to form a critical mass that everyone can rally around.

-- Jack Krupansky

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