Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Identity principal

Scott Wilson introduced me to the term "principal" for the human entity to which a digital identity is attached. He sums it up as " 'the person for whom a broker executes an order', that is, the entity outside the system that asserts an identity." He references Stephen Downes, Andy Powell and, especially, a long treatise by Dave Snowden which talks about the five characteristics of an identity -

"1. An identity is not the same thing as a role.
2. An identity does not have rigid boundaries, nor is it susceptible of precise definition.
3. Identity is not absolute, it can change in context or over time although the point of transition (the establishment of a new identity) may not be clear either at the time or in retrospect.
4. Identity in human systems is a strange attractor (to take a key concept from complexity theory).
5. Identity is established by robust resilience and if we understand identity from the perspective of a complex adaptive system then interdependence becomes more important than autonomy."
I might not agree with all that Professor Snowden says, but it is a good starting point for discussion.


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