Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Is it time for the personal directory?

Kim Cameron has posted his Third Law of Identity, which states that:

"Technical identity systems MUST be designed so the disclosure of identifying information is limited to parties having a necessary and justifiable place in a given identity relationship."

He goes on to state that this is why Microsoft's Passport failed - neither vendors or consumers wanted a third party intermediating their transaction. As Craig Burton put it: "Think of the implications of this new law. If Microsoft is going to participate in providing infrastructure that meets the criteria of the three laws, it will have to be willing to allow infrastructure that can operate sans Windows."

What this says to me is that the personal directory which I've long advocated ought to now be gaining traction.

One possible technology to support this is SMBmeta, the brainchild of Dan Bricklin who helped foster the PC revolution in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He is the co-creator of VisiCalc as well as other tools and applications that bridged the gap between the pure potential of personal computing in 1980 to the worldwide phenomena it is today. I explored this in more depth in a 4-part series in the Identity Management newsletter last spring called "The universal, self-publishing, loosely-coupled personal directory" parts 1, 2, 3 and 4. Parts 1, 2 & 3 outline Bricklin's proposal, while part 4 goes into how it could be adapted to the personal directory paradigm.

The Burton Group's Jamie Lewis was also fascinated by the possibilities of SMBmeta, saying about it that: "In other words, SMBmeta is a self-organizing directory. In contrast with X.500 and its descendants, SMBmeta is very decentralized, pushing responsibility and data ownership all the way out to the edge. It makes data aggregation a loosely coupled operation that anyone can perform. Pretty cool." Take a look for yourself.

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