Introducing User-Centric Identity

Doc Searls
Doc Searls
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The Internet Identity Workshop (2006B) has begun. I flew in this morning and spent the time before the conference started shopping for things we need for snacks, etc.

Today is not an unconference event--that starts tomorrow. Today we have a more structured program intended to get people new to the space up to speed--but people who've been in the identity space for years come anyway.

Kaliya and Mike Ozburn started off the day with some discussion of the identity space map. Dick Hardt spoke on the identity lexicon and the laws of identity.

Next up was Johannes Ernst speaking about OSIS, the open source identity system. The OSIS steering committee is over a dozen identity companies working to make user-centric identity interoperable.

Kim Cameron gave an introduction to CardSpace, the Microsoft user-centric identity system (which is interoperable with OSIS). He did a great intro, including a demo. One thing he said that stuck with me was "Privacy is security from the point-of-view of the individual."

Paul Trevithick spoke about Higgins. Bottom line: Higgins is glue. Higgins defines a way for developers of identity systems to develop plug-ins that allow their system to interoperate with other Higgins-enabled identity systems. Users may not ever know that Higgins is even around--but it will likely play an important role in "making things work."

Eve Maler spoke about Project Liberty. Federated identity is about distributing identity information in the "right" way. Single sign-on, for example, is distributed authentication. Bonus: Read Eve's Identity Planets, Moons, and Comets for a great discussion of here ideas in this space.

Scott Kveton and David Recordon spoke on URL-based identity. David spoke on the history and where things are now (some exciting things to come out in the next few days at IIW). He also talked about futures including sing OpenID with HTTP Auth. Scott shows a chart that claims 12-15 million OpenID users. He quips that since it's all distributed, there's no way to prove him wrong. There are over 550 sites that use OpenID. Scott lists libraries for a dozen programming language that support OpenID. The bounty program is yielding results and more and more software will be OpenID enabled.

Eugene Kim spoke on identity Commons and it's role in the user-centric identity space. Identity Commons is fostering collaboration. Eugene tells some stories about how collaboration has occurred in the identity space: yadis, OSIS, and interoperability are examples.

Eugene talks about the trust that exists in the IIW community. People are willing to give each other the benefit of the doubt and work with each other. Interestingly, this wasn't always so. I can remember the first IIW where people were talking about their own stuff and arguing about why the other guy's stuff wouldn't work. That's completely changed. Eugene says "self-awareness is critical to a group of people becoming a community and it seeds interaction." Self-awareness allows the community to scale.

We asked Doc to close today. He covered the history, the need, and set the stage for the next few days. Well done.

I have some photos from today.

Here's a linkfest of things I saw related to Internet identity today:

  • Doc Searls: Busting the Silos "I don't need a password when I go to the drugstore--why do I need one online?"
  • Joe Andrieu posted an interesting piece on the power of the identity metasystem in preparation for coming to the workshop.
  • Phil Becker makes acase for OpenID
  • Tim O'Reilly has a post on the economics of disaggregation. OK, so Tim never mentions "identity" directly. In fact, I suspect Tim doesn't really buy the whole identity thing--or at least thinks it's boring--though there are signs that it's starting to get his attention. Regardless, these disaggregations require identity to make their magic and decentralized, universal, Internet-scale identity could change the game yet again.