Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Peter Principle of Protocols

A good Post today from Eve Maler reminding us that it's not just people, and it's especially not just on-line people, that have identity issues.

"I realize that the description I’m after is more like 'human-centric identity'. It comes with both online and offline scenarios and still needs to allow for (real-time or not) informed consent and attribute exchange."
This might be a good time to, once again, plump for "persona" as the term for what many call "on-line identity" so that we can keep straight what a real identity is.

She also alludes to the fact that not all identity protocols need to be able to do everything.
There's still room for lightweight, on-line digital person identity systems (vide OpenID) to be used within limited situations. It's not a criticism of OpenID to suggest that it only be used in low-value transactions. What is wrong is to apply a sort of "Peter Principle of Protocols" to OpenID, extending the original Peter Principle (formulated by Laurence J. Peter almost 40 years ago) thru the "Generalized Peter Principle" promulgated by Dr. William R. Corcoran: "anything that works will be used in progressively more challenging applications until it causes a disaster." Let's keep, and improve, OpenID for the things it does best. Let's not try to teach that pig to sing.

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