Friday, May 06, 2005

Identity versus location

I'm struggling with how to treat location relative to identity. Frequently, location is simply an attribute or characteristic associated with an entity or identity, such as a product or service being delivered to a location on behalf of an entity with an identity. But, there are lots of situations where a product or service can be delivered to a location without any need to refer to the identity of the entity (or entities) that might be associated with that location. The location can be thought of as having an anonymous associated entity (e.g., "Resident" or "Family residing at" or "Computer connected to IP address port"), but the question remains whether we need a pseudo-entity and pseudo-identity, or whether the location itself can be thought of as an entity with an identity that directly parallels the location itself.

The significance of the similarity or distinction between location and identity and entity is itself not obvious. One intriguing possibility is to enable a form of privacy based on location rather than entity identity.

There are of course governmental, law enforcement, and national security issues that arise related to any separation of entities, identities, and locations. That does not mean that the concepts need to be tightly integrated, but does at least suggest some form of linkage or coupling and even tracking.

The first question to be addressed is whether location is a "first-class concept" at the level of entity and identity.

-- Jack Krupansky


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