Jamie Lewis on the Importance of Relationships (DIDW 08)


Jamie Lewis at DIDW08
Jamie Lewis at DIDW08
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Jamie Lewis gave the opening keynote this morning on the state of digital identity. The first part was pretty straightforward review of where we've been and where we are. Then Jamie started riffing on the relationship idea that Burton has been talking about lately.

Digital identity exists to enable human experiences online. In human experience, trust (I'd say reputation) is critical. He references Alan Greenspan's book The Age of Turbulance where Greenspan talks about the global economy being based on trust. With current technology we don't enable trust in the way humans use that term.

Trust is based on relationships. In close relationships you can make frequent, accurate observations about identity attributes that lead to better understanding. Close relationships require investment and commitment. A useful, good relationship provides value for all parties.

Centrism focuses on contention and sets up an adversarial approach. Relationships aren't just about rights, they're also about obligations. Systems that simply collect information without placing it in the context of a relationship are destined to fail.

Scaling is hard when we talk about relationships because of the commitment and time required. Custodial identity is what Burton Group calls the kind of close relationship-based identity that some entities will establish. Contextual identity is what distant parties use. It's provided by the custodian. Transactional identity is the use of minimal disclosure to reduce individual risk (Is this person over 21?) For many companies who use identity data, they can get by and should get by with just transactional identity data.