Friday, January 05, 2007

Putting ID all together

Eve "xmlgrrl" Maler takes the opportunity to show how her concept of "pairwise pseudonyms" overcomes the challenges to consolidating identity data while retaining privacy that I was referring to in commenting on dana boyd's "throwaway identities" posting. (And, in the process, reveals the secret story of how the "xmlgrrl" tag was born - a story that could be called the "cruisechain manifesto"!) This is a simplified representation of the "Universe of Identifiers" chart she posted last month, and which I talked about here.

I do find this simplified chart easier to grasp and Eve does appear to agree with my conclusion about the eventual need for consolidation:

"Whether people have URL-based identifiers or some other kind, they’re just as likely to have more than one than only one. It would certainly be Bad for a worldwide-scalable identity system to make everyone get exactly one. So far, quite a lot of people — not just teens — using the network for non-business reasons are comfortable creating and playing with many identities for themselves. As soon as they've invested something significant (perhaps, as danah notes, involving a mobile device, or just inputting data that they really really don’t want to have to input again) in enough of them, consolidation will become attractive indeed."
Where we differ is in where the data will be stored. Eve, as a faithful follower of the Liberty Alliance spec, expects an "in-the-net" service to do everything:

"If a person is is going to ask for assistance from a service on the web in doing this consolidation, that service will necessarily have to know something about her (otherwise she might as well keep everything in her head like she does now, her brain being the only existing consolidation point), but federation through the exchange of pseudonyms keeps it to a minimum."
While I prefer that all that goes "in-the-net" is a framework for a transport system while data is all stored locally. Or, rather, consolidated locally since the authoritative source of each bit of data might be in a myriad of different places. Still, the wider ranging this discussion becomes the better the chance for a synthesis of ideas and the emergence of an actual solution.

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