I had dinner last night with AKM Adam and Jon Udell. I'd never met either of these gentlemen before, although I felt like I knew Jon well both from his writings from Byte and, more recently, his weblog. It was great to finally meet hi in person and have an opportunity to talk. Adam is a Episcopalian minister and professor of divinity at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. In some ways that link guided some of our conversation about how a detachable identity (i.e. one that is virtual) changes what a person thinks about themselves.
An interesting thought occurred to me as we talked: most people who are talking about digital identity care very little about actually attaching that identity to "meat." They really don't care about the person, just the attributes associated with that identity (like its bank balance). That is not true for many things that governments care about. In fact, if you think about it, we have an entire branch of government that is devoted to establishing links between identity and a physical body: the courts. Trials are largely about proving that a particular physical body has a particular identity (that of the person who committed the crime).