Open CMS Summit

The guys at Bryght (they are really bright) are organizing an Open CMS Summit in February. It is a great idea. (They have on their list of things to talk about ‘identity and authentication – in fact it is on the top of their list. RIGHT ON)

I would like to ad and expand on the list. These communities coming together are diverse and have a range of needs. It is not just ‘developers’ coming together to code together.

  • Small business owners who are building businesses based on these platforms. This community has needs to address real client needs that can sometimes be overlooked by the ‘core’ developers – I hope we can create a space for these real issues to be surfaced and action to be taken.
  • Individual developers who work on contract for a range of projects.
  • designers who have a skill set to build sites.
  • User experience people who have an enourmous amount to contribute (the FLOSS Usability sprints have gone a long way to addressing the wide gap between open source and usability.)
  • Project managers that pull teams together with a whole variety of skill sets.
  • Folks developing platform in specific niches that have real gifts to bring the community – remember that the margins are where the really interesting things.

Face time amongst this diverse groups needs to be used to

  • Develop vision about the platform – this will help the community develop consensus and confidence in the platforms survival
  • Listening to emerging needs that end users and communities using those platforms and weaving those into development roadmaps
  • Learning about usability and how to meet weave this into development roadmaps
  • Business models for businesses? how do we make money to eat, feed those who work for us and better yet THRIVE?
  • How do we share information about development we are working on? (a new module or feature that others might also need to develop)
  • What are the collaborative flows that really support the core development and meet their business goals.

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VocabWatch – Derrieregulation

There is some intense stuff happening over in telecommunications regulation land that has significant implications for the interent. Susan Crawford has been blogging on this extensively. (She is now a member of ICANN’s board so).

Bruce Kushnick, of Tele-the-truth, (said with at Brooklyn, Italian accent),
has come up with some new Vocab to describe what is going on.

The Telecom Act giveth and the FCC taken away. The definition of ‘deregulation’ is — those with the most amount of money and influence win!

Deregulation was ‘open the network to competition’. Now ‘deregulate the wires’ means deregulate the incumbent from previous laws to open the network to competition.

I think it’s time for some new terms.

Terminator-egulate — To kill previous regulation

Fib-erize — To continue to promise fiber optics to the press

Liaregulation or Sayanythingulation. — The uncommittment of
whatever you committed to

Derrieregulation — Sit on your ass, claiming you’re doing
everything in your power to compete.

Astroturegulation — Get 50 ethnic, hispanic, black, asian, Jewish,
Christian, Muslim, disabled, senior groups to claim you need new financial incentives and more deregulation.

Killeregulation — Death to VOIP, Munis, anything that moves.

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VocabWatch – Bliki

I haven’t done this in a while but i am going to start “Vocab Watching” again. Highlighting the crazy new words that get made to describe stuff in this ever changing world.

Bliki from Riffs

Bliki is a combination of two popular internet interfaces: blogs and wikis.

A blog is your online journal. A wiki is an application that allows users to modify any portion of a document. A Bliki is a combination of these two things—the community, including you, decides on the content for any given item, whose reviews are the best, what things or topics are the most important to riff about, and how those riffs should be organized and annotated.

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Eshter on the Accountable Net @ Accelerating Change

Esther gave a great talk about the Accountable Net at Accelerating Change that is now up on IT Conversations. It is worth a listen as we look at identifiers for people on the net. I blogged it here.

This is the summary offered on IT Conversations:

There also needs to be a balance between the ability to authenticate identity and protect the possibility of anonymity.
Since the knowledge base of its users varies so much, rules for internet communities need to be carefully designed. More than one system needs to be employed in order to offer security to new users while maintaining robust opportunities for people with advanced knowledge. Regulation of the internet should be, in Esther Dyson’s words, a way to empower people to do things without giving them power over each other.

R0ml is up on IT Conversations!!!

Ever since OSCON I have been waiting for his talk The Semasiology of Open Source (Part 2) to be posted. R0ml is one of those presentation as performance art guys I have mentioned in my blog before. This is a three part presentation it seems happening over three years. Part 1 is here.

Here is the blurb from IT Conversations it is VERY Philisophical.

Computer source code has words and sentence structure like actual prose or even poetry. Writing code for the computer is like writing an essay. It should be written for other people to read, understand and modify. These are some of the thoughts behind literate programming proposed by Donald Knuth. This is also one of the ideas behind Open Source.

“Open Source” is a phrase like “Object Oriented” – weird at first, but when it became popular, the meaning began to depend on the context of the speaker or listener. “Object Oriented” meant that PERL, C++, Java, Smalltalk, Basic and the newest version of Cobol are all “Object Oriented” – for some specific definition of “Object Oriented”. Similar is the case of the phrase “Open Source”.

In Part 1, Lefkowitz talked about the shift of the meaning of “Open Source” away from any reference to the actual “source code,” and more towards other phases of the software development life cycle. In Part II, he returns to the consideration of the relationship between “open source” and the actual “source code,” and reflects upon both the way forward and the road behind, drawing inspiration from Charlemagne, King Louis XIV, Donald Knuth, and others.

I just got Measure Map – Woohoo

A few months ago I put in my name to be an alpha tester of Measure Map. I got the invitation this morning and used my nerdiest skills to install it ( I had to use my FTP client to download the files, add in code and then upload them back on to my webhost).

I am really excited that I have a user interface to actually understand what is going on in my blog. It show how important UI is because right now I have a log on my web host but it un-readable.

User-Centric collection of atributes and reputation

We had a great lunch with Mary yesterday where we discussed this article and her comments about reputation portability. Ironically enough Mary’s comments excerpted and therefore were not complete. She articulated more deeply in our discussion how the the meaning of an eBay reputation has meaning within that community. When you extract it out of that community and look at it as someone who is not a member do the numbers have ‘meaning’ in the same way they do for those in the community.

Comment from Ivan the below article…

A small company called Opinity is trying to address this issue by aggregating many different sources of reputation data (ie. eBay rating, credit rating, etc.) to enable sites to interact w/individuals to get the reputation item they need for that trusted interaction to take place

This guy gets it! They are actually not just aggregating ‘reputation data’ and ratings but also membership in various website communities (you can say you have xhandle over on site Y when you are making comments on bulletin board Z but how do you prove it? Opintiy gives you tools to do this.

If identity is what others say about you (Dick has defined it this way in his identity 2.0 talk). If you are a member of an organization and they assert that about you. (how else do you show someone the membership cards in your wallet online?) Opinity gives people tools to support you authenticating your memberships in various organizations.

He continues

…I’m afraid that they may have a “chicken and the egg” problem in getting people using the service in order to get sites to support it and w/no sites supporting it users will be hard to come by.


This is where his understanding break down. Opinity is offering its services to communities/websites to use.

Opinity is much the same, although they offer partners the opportunity to tap into the data. These centralized data plays have no chance on today’s internet. Why even bother.

Here’s what we need – a referee and a scorekeeper. Open (I didn’t say free, mind you) APIs in and out, not just links to feedback scores. Figure out the rules (keep it flexible) and let other applications feed the database. Somebody please build this. Or eBay, open up your Feedback API.

I’m not alone in pleading for this. See what Rob Hof and others have to say as well.

Trust as currency..

Jeff Jarvis had this to say about trust during the Union Square Ventures session.

And so the content isn’t what’s valuable. It’s the trust and relationship that’s valuable, and that to me, in a post scarcity — what the internet does is it takes away scarcity in terms of both content and distribution, and it changes the value essentially to trust. So the friction is still there. The friction isn’t “I own the content and you don’t.” The friction is, “You’re going to keep good content? Okay, then let’s talk.” It’s a different friction, a different value, but that’s essentially what we’re going towards…..So relationships and trust becomes a new structure.


This insight is critical. The value of community and reputation are what is next on the net. Communities in civil society are at the core of society – the kniting group, the local congregation, the soccer league, the group that takes care of the local creek each Saturday…. where regular folks are in relationship with each other. I have great hopes that some how these groups can figure out the web and because of the new incredible value of ‘relationship’ use it for the good of their community.

Web 2.0 and Tufte to the rescue

So on this snark blog – Go Flock Yourself that my buddy Jon Garfunkel sent along has this interesting post asserting that Web 2.0 retards need to read more Tufte. in reference to this picture with notes on flickr. The good news is that  is coming to San Jose and San Francisco this month Dec 5-8. About 8 months ago after NTEN I went to Boston just for the workshop because Marty recommended it. Well worth it – you get all of his books and a day long course – Presenting Data and Information.

The workshop on i-names (well described)

Invitation to learn more i-names and datasharing using XRI and XDI by Andy Dale on the afternoon of Monday December 5th.
Who will find this workshop useful?
Those who want to have data from web-based applications (i.e. transaction processing, membership management) as well as basic forms (i.e. registration, surveys, etc.) integrate automatically with the back-end databases.  Â

Those creating an ecologies of services where users move between different sites regularly, where having a smoother user experience would serve everyone.  Web 2.0 companies.Â

The audience for this is ‘product managers’ and execs from the dozens of  the dozens of membership management software vendors, etc.  and those who want to do interoperability between various systems.Â

Augmented Social Network is the visionary paper that grounds a lot of this work.  Excerpts from the paper are on my blog here.
What will you learn about?
You will learn what they can do now and the schedule for the next pieces of the infrastructure being ready. Free i-names will be discussed and the type of functionality they can start to provide people with i-names that no other technology will give them.

A picture will be painted of the functional revolution that occurs when people aggregate their own data under their own control and how that lets any service provider give better service.

People will leave the workshop with an understanding that they can start to implement “Identity Centric Architecture” today and how that will benefit them and their members/customers.

FREE! (because we love you and want to offer a barrier free opportunity to learn more and join the community of implementors in a face-to-face way). All you have to do is RSVP to Justine [ justine.hirsch [AT]ootao [Dot] comjustine.hirsch [AT]ootao [Dot] com] and come.

It will be at ooTao’s offices in Alameda. 3rd Floor, 1080 Marina Village Parkway. Right across the bridge from Oakland

Who is Andy?
Andy builds enterprise software and within the last 8 months has been working on building enterprise quality applications using these tools. He articulates these standards with amazing clarity drawing on his real experience implementing them.

Who else is behind this event?
Kaliya Hamlin the Network Director at Planetwork is helping organize the event. She writes the Identity Woman Blog and works with companies in the XRI/XDI ecology. She is happy to answer questions about the field at =Kaliya

This agenda and address is on the wiki and will be updated.
Please go to the wiki and share – who you are – why you are coming; your use cases; what you want to learn and how this 3 hours can be of most benefit to you.

There are 3 basic levels of integration, or engagement, that are possible with the evolving social and dataweb standards:
• Single Sign On
• Publish data from your system
• Consume Data Shared from other systems

We will explore these implementations in detail by reviewing these 3 use cases:Signing in using Single Sign on:
This use case will let us set the landscape of the basic i-name infrastructure; i-brokers, service providers, xri resolution and yadis resolution.

Publishing data from a system:
Giving someone that donates money on-line a signed record of their gift.
This use case demonstrates publishing data from a system. The data is provided to the userso that they can share it with other systems as they see fit . This shows basic XDI syntax and permissioning.

Getting email addresses from a user’s XDI profile:
This case demonstrates how to either use your existing database as an XDI cache or make XDI calls in place of conventional SQL calls.

Date: Monday December 5, 2005
Time: 12 Noon (Bring your own lunch)
Program: 1pm
Venue: ooTao, Training Room, 3rd Floor, 1080 Marina Village Parkway, Alameda, CA 94501
Leader: Andy Dale author of the Tao of XDI and founder of ooTao (Object Oriented Tao)

Please contact Justine Hirsch (justine.hirsch [AT] ootao [dot] com) to register for this event. Places are limited so book early to avoid disappointment.

More on the workshop

Phil Windley inquired to learn more about the XRI/XDI workshop on December 5th and this is what Andy Dale replied…

It is my intention that the afternoon provide potential implementers or implementation decision makers a very concrete idea of what they can do with i-names (XRI/XDI).

I want to let them know what they can do now and the schedule for the next pieces of the infrastructure being ready. I want them to know what people get ‘free’ with an i-name and what type of functionality they can start to provide people with i-names that no other technology will give them.

I want to paint a picture of the functional revolution that occurs when people aggregate their own data under their own control and how that lets any service provider give better service.

People should leave the workshop with an understanding that they can start to implement “Identity Centric Architecture” today and how that will benefit them and their members/customers.

Opinions on Opinity.

There has been a lot of opinions about opinity in the blogosphere in the last week.

From Mashable:


Quoting Bill Washburn @ Opinity –
The way we think about it at Opinity, individuals would also be completely welcome to put together multiple reputation profiles of themselves for different contexts, say one for ecommerce, one for professional purposes, one for political or dating or community forum purposes. An eBay rating could be shown in a profile or not as any particular person might deem wise for their purposes. The most important thing is that elements of a reputation profile can be made portable, aggregated, authenticated, and thereby be more useful and worthy of some degree of trust (depending on how broad, deep, and verified the profile is) everywhere on the ‘net.  

That’s more like it! I reckon these guys could be on to something big, if only they can figure out how to make plenty of dough from all this – their idea sounds exactly the same as mine, but the problem I’ve had up to this point is justifying it from a business perspective. You can’t really charge users, so you’d have to charge site owners/developers for any applications that hooked into the system. So maybe you have a new auction site and you don’t want to build a whole new reputation system, along with the high switching costs for your users – pay us and we’ll do the hard work for you.

Despite what P-Air says, there’s really no chicken and egg problem if you aggregate and categorize existing feedback systems (you won’t start off with a zero score if you can import your current eBay score from the start). But here’s the question: how could someone make this work – and would it even be worth the effort?

Identity Access Management:

What is a product like this going to buy me as a citizen of web? I can see their idea of a central repository of user reputation (something similar to Credit Reporting company). But all the big sites have their own repository and why would they want to share that. So, their basic approach would be to get the smaller websites to get to use this service. Now that is a big issue because why would most of these websites want to purchase a service they do not need. As soon as the customer pays via credit card, these people do not care about the reputation of the customer. So unless this system can help them

Lets take the model from customer point of view. Most people would like to get tangible benifits out of this before they would be ready to aggregate their identity information in one place. This could be in form of discount in online stores. In addition to that the reputation needs to be integrated with a identity engine that can build a central repository of their profile (which will include their blogs, comments on other websites for products, etc) across the web which can then be converted into his reputation (because without the “identity” you will not know who are the people talking about since there could be really large number of “John Doe” out there).

May be I am thinking too far into the future. At the moment, it could be more like something that gamers and others involved in online activities (like chat ) would use to aggregate and share their information out of box.

Micro-content Musings

I had a look at the Opinity service. This service allows a user to create a reputation. This seems basically to mean that a user can create reviews for people. Interesting, I would like to see a more distributed MicroContent solution for this.

A more interesting feature to me is the certification of identities. A user can submit identities (username+password) at the service. And Opinity will try to login. If it succeeds it has certified that identity. Something similar can be done with email addresses. In this way u user can prove that his various identities on various services belong to the same service.

I see such a certification service as a part of a personal profile.

Business week’s Rob Hof wrote about Mary’s assertions about the ‘unportability of reputations’. We are having lunch next week to talk about it :)

Reputation Matters – for big and small

Two days ago I flew from Boston to JFK (my taxi was 30 min late and I was blessed to have the best host ever – Jon Garfunkel who drove me to the airport) to make a morning presentation on Corporate Social
I headed to a presentation facilitated by Joe Sabilia my friend from the Social Venture Network – on Communicating Your Companies Values: How Corporate Social Responsibility Impacts the Bottom Line.

On the plane I was scanning the Guide to CSR Communication.

According to a poll released by the Cherenson Group, almost 80 percent of adults say they would rather work for a company with an excellent reputation than for a company with a poor reputation, even if the company with the poor reputation offered a higher salary. (p. 13)

Tying this back to this morning’s experience. I really wish I could give the taxi cab company demerits for not picking me up.

after the business panel

I had a great day on Tuesday at the Corante Symposium***

We opened with this quote and I think it is basically true
Managers would rather live with a problem they can’t solve than with a solution the don’t fully undersand or control.
Eric Bonabeau

Comments on the panel:

From Educause

Kaliya talked about a new data web that links to persistent data. For me that elicited thoughts of Plaxo, microformats and XHTML. I may have misinterpreted her, but I believe she was projecting a growth in commodity skills and contract labor. 


Let’s talk about customers… companies in e-transactions get all the data on customers. This thread reminds me of the medical records data ownership controversy.

Liz posted about the “hollywood model” comment I made and how these was a wondering if this was actually a good thing.

Lunch followed and Bud and I enjoyed a good conversation over that he blogged.

I shared with him the use case that I have been seeking to solve ‘since the beginning’ and is why I am so enthusiastic about identity.

The community that I am seeking to serve with my nonprofit
attends conferences but these are all put on by different but similar organizations. Why should these people who might show up at 4 different organizations over a year have to enter a different profile across all those activities.

This apparently has continued to resonate.

Also, I continue to be tremendously intrigued by Kaliya Hamlins’ ideas for creating identities. What I envision here is that people create a profile or publish a profile that they think fits with the conference. They then use this identity for this conference and others like it so that you can find new resources via people you met at the conference. Obviously, SPAM potential is high, but the idea is intriguing.

Other interesting panels included Kevin and Mary on this question – How do we scale meaning? They opened with this quote from Bruce Sterling.

Ultimately no human brain, no planet full of human brains, can possibly catalog the dark, expanding ocean of data we spew. In a future of information auto-organized by folksonomy, we may not even have words for the kinds of sorting that will be going on; like mathematical proofs with 30,000 steps, they may be beyond comprehension. But they’ll enable searches that are vast and eerily powerful. We won’t be surfing with search engines any more. We’ll be trawling with engines of meaning.

Liz Lawly posted these great snippets for her talk on the question of is social software a mirror or a lens.

We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us. Winston Churchill

This is true of social software they shape us.

finally the cocktail party headline – Identity women were popular at the symposium. I was asked by him if I was into ‘identity’ as in identity politics. I was like … nope. Apparently others at the event where.

***(except there was no outgoing SMTP – so they were so kind to actually open the Harvard interent in the one room we were in but for future reference “open wifi” means open outgoing SMTP)

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identity workshop audience

I have been working hard to spread the word about the workshop Andy is leading on December 5th about i-names. One of the folks I passed it along to is Paul Hogan of Exponent Partners who do strategic and tactical consulting, and helps design solutions, selecting and implementing the right technology in the nonprofit sector. Here is his articulation of the market need and who should be at the workshop.

All of our clients want to have data from web-based applications (i.e. transaction processing, membership management) as well as basic forms (i.e. registration, surveys, etc.) integrate automatically with the back-end database, in our case Salesforce and potentially CiviCRM. I’d love to see you guys certify applications that are compliant with these standards and give them a stamp of approval so that we could use them for clients.

The way the agenda looks, your audience really ought to be the ‘product managers’ and execs of folks like Salesforce, CiviCRM, CivicSpace, Democracy In Action, Radical Designs, CrownePeak, everyone building add-on modules to Drupal & Mambo, the dozens of membership management software vendors, etc.

Invasion of the AIM BOTS

Today in Bryant Park I logged into Audium (my platform neutral IM Application) and these little AOL IM Bots had installed themselves on my machine. It was really really really annoying – they could have asked me nicely if I wanted some bots and what they did. Instead they just pushed them onto my machine. I was just watching the Reuters building 20 story high AIM advertisement go up and down. Saying how ‘new’ they were. Seems really old school to just install stuff on my machine without asking.

Markets are conversations guys!!! you ask before you install stuff. Maybe you should go talk to your new social software aware property before you do more stuff like this.

December Five Dive into i-names and Datasharing with Andy Dale “Mr. XDI”

On Monday December 5th in the afternoon Andy Dale is leading “deep dive” into i-names and datasharing using XRI and XDI.

The Goal
The goal is to explain the technical aspects of XRI and XDI to potential techincal implementors of these open standards. Supporting single sign on, doing basic datasharing and other key elements like i-brokers. He will do this by articulating practical applications that he and others are building (See below). You will get to connect with others exploring using these standards and share information with them.

Who is Andy?
Andy builds enterprise software and within the last 8 months has been working on building enterprise quality applications using these tools. He articulates these standards with amazing clarity and has real experience.

The event begins at noon with “bring your own lunch” and the program will begin at 1 pm.


It will be at ooTao’s offices in Alameda. 3rd Floor, 1080 Marina Village Parkway.

FREE! (because we love you and want to offer a barrier free opportunity to learn more and join the community of implementors in a face-to-face way). All you have to do is RSVP to Justine [ justine.hirsch *at* ootao *dot* com] and come.

This agenda and address is on the wiki and will be updated. Please go there and ad more about what you want to learn and how this 3 hours can be of most benefit to you.

There are 3 basic levels of integration, or engagement, that are possible with the evolving social and dataweb standards:

  • Single Sign On
  • Publish data from your system
  • Consume Data Shared from other systems

We will explore these implementations in detail by reviewing these 3 use cases:

Signing in using Single Sign on:
This use case will let us set the landscape of the basic i-name infrastructure; i-brokers, service providers, xri resolution and yadis resolution.

Publishing data from a system:
Giving someone that donates money on-line a signed record of their gift.
This use case demonstrates publishing data from a system. The data is provided to the userso that they can share it with other systems as they see fit . This shows basic XDI syntax and permissioning.

Getting email addresses from a user’s XDI profile:
This case demonstrates how to either use your existing database as an XDI cache or make XDI calls in place of conventional SQL calls.

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on a business panel

In about an hour I will be up on stage at the Symposium on Social Architecture talking about the future of business and social software. In a way I am a perfect example of how these new tools have shaped a work life. I have had limited experience working in offices – those I did work in were tiny dysfunctional nonprofits. I got into social software to address the challenges these organizations have supporting their members staying connected after they met in person. Researching what I needed to know to build tools for my community I read the Augmented Social Network: Building Trust and Identity into the Next Generation Internet. It was hugely influential on my thinking and totally inspired me. I have been working since reading it to share its ideas and work for its manifestation.

I have been working “virtually” for three years using social software tools – basically via e-mail, wiki’s, conference calls, in person meetings and showing up at events/conferences. Both on behalf of Planetwork and as Identity Woman working for the ecology of folks using eXtensible Resource Identifiers [XRI] (i-names) and and XRI Data Interchange [XDI] to really build the Augmented Social Network.

The ASN paper has a focus on civil society uses of the internet. The principles of user controlled identity are at its core and have implications for business and how trusted deep relationships between buyers and sellers, costumers and companies can open up new opportunities. Here are some critical excerpts

Four main elements of ASNPersistent Identity
Enabling individuals online to maintain a persistent identity as they move between different Internet communities, and to have personal control over that identity. This identity should be multifarious and ambiguous (as identity is in life itself), capable of reflecting an endless variety of interests, needs, desires, and relationships. It should not be reduced to a recitation of our purchase preferences, since who we are can not be reduced to what we buy.

Interoperability Between Online Communities
People should be able to cross easily between online communities under narrowly defined circumstances, just as in life we can move from one social network to another. Protocols and standards need to be developed and adopted to enable this interoperability. This interoperability should include the ability to identify and contact others with shared affinities or complementary capabilities, and to share digital media with them, enabling valuable information to pass from one online community to the next in an efficient manner. To support ASN-type activity, modularized enhancements to the technical infrastructures of separate online communities will need to be developed and adopted.

Brokered Relationships
Using databased information, online brokers (both automated and “live”) should be able to facilitate the introduction between people who share affinities and/or complementary capabilities and are seeking to make connections. In this manner, the proverbial “six degrees of separation” can be collapsed to one, two or three degrees — in a way that is both effective and that respects privacy. Such a system of brokered relationships should also enable people to find information or media that is of interest to them, through the recommendations of trusted third parties.

Public Interest Matching Technologies
The Semantic Web is perhaps the best known effort to create a global “dictionary” of shared terms to facilitate finding information online that is of interest to you. Within the ASN, a public interest initiative around matching technologies, including ontologies and taxonomies, will enable you to find other people with whom you share affinities — no matter which online communities they belong to. These matching technologies need to be broad and robust enough to include the full range of political discussion about issues of public interest. They should not be confined to commercial or narrowly academic topics; NGOs and other public interest entities need to be represented in the process that determines these matching technologies.


Building your online identity
Underlying this report is the assumption that every individual ought to have the right to control his or her own online identity. You should be able to decide what information about yourself is collected as part of your digital profile, and of that information, who has access to different aspects of it. Certainly, you should be able to read the complete contents of your own digital profile at any time. An online identity should be maintained as a capability that gives the user many forms of control. Without flexible access and control, trust in the system of federated network identity will be minimal.

To date, online identity is treated the same way as an individual’s credit history — as information that exists as a result of commercial transactions, and so is the proprietary data of the company that captures it. These companies then have the legal right to do with this data as they see fit, including making it available to massive databases that centralize this information for resale. At the same time, your rights as a citizen to access and effect this same information are limited — as anyone who has ever had to sort out errors in his official credit history can attest.

A digital profile is not treated as the formal extension of the person it represents. But if this crucial data about you is not owned by you, what right do you have to manage its use? At the moment, it seems, this right would have to be granted by the corporations that have captured your data for their own purposes. They may perhaps choose to give you a measure of control over what they do with it. But as long it is their choice to grant you control, rather than your right as a citizen to assert control, the potential for abuse is of grave concern. Just as overly burdensome intellectual property laws threaten to dampen innovation on the Internet, as Lawrence Lessig has described, legacy twentieth century laws regarding proprietary information about “customers” could undermine efforts to create a civil society-oriented persistent identity. This could, in turn, strictly limit the forms of trusted relationships that might take place online.

The digital profiles that Internet stores like Amazon have developed of their customers follow a common pattern. Have you ever seen the information about your sales history that Amazon bases its personal recommendations on? Not to suggest that Amazon is a nefarious organization, or that it uses what it learns about customers in an improper way. But you cannot gain access to your Amazon profile, even if you wanted to. Nor do you even have the right to ask for it. Today, for most people, this does not pose a problem. Most of us are glad to get Amazon’s recommendations (sometimes they are even useful). But a decade hence, as the tools for creating online profiles become far more sophisticated, and stores like Amazon cross-reference their proprietary customer information with that of thousands of other companies, we will be in a very different territory.

Let’s take a moment to consider the ways that data about you can be gathered and entered into a digital profile. There are basically three:

First, as with the Amazon example, your online decisions can be traced, entered into a database, and interpreted according to a pre-determined algorithm. This form of automated information gathering, by compiling a database of significant actions, is the most unobtrusive way to build a profile. At the same time, you — the profile subject — may be unaware that your actions are being followed and interpreted in this way. It is important that ethical standards are established so that you know when your behavior is being tracked, and when it isn’t. Moreover, you should be aware who is tracking your behavior, and what they will do with that information. Most importantly, you should always be given the option to not have your behavior tracked — this option should be a fundamental right in a free society. By tracked we mean the recording and retention of activity that is retained beyond a certain time limit, transferred to others, and/or retained for future use.

Secondly, you can deliberately enter information about yourself into a digital profile. For example, some online communities have complex registration forms that each new member must fill out in order to participate. Once a member makes clear that she prefers Bob Dylan and Tom Waits to N’Synch and Britiney Spears, she is then led into an online discussion area with others who expressed similar interests. The advantage to profiles compiled like this is that you know exactly what you have chosen to express about yourself, and what you have not. The downside, however, is that filling out forms is cumbersome; most of us prefer to avoid doing it.

The third method is perhaps the most traditional form of information gathering, and least preferred: Having others report on your actions without your knowledge. Depending on who controls your digital profile, and how it is used, this method might play a minimal role in federated network identity, or it might be central to it. The more control each individual has over his or her own profile, however, the less likely it is that undesirable or unnecessary reports by others will be a key element. A user should have some ability to determine under what circumstances other people’s opinions about his actions might precede him when he enters new situations.

Again, ethical standards need to be agreed to that protect citizens against abuses of this kind, which the technology could easily facilitate.

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Meeting an ‘identity man’ (Aldo Castenda)

I met Aldo for the first time last night at the Planetwork event (he is in the back row next to me in the picture). Today we met up again and talked ‘identity’ over sushi and ice cream. We talked about how we got into this whole identity thing and talked about different emerging developments.
It is great to meet a good lawyer (as in good hearted – but I am sure also talented) who is interested in this identity space. God knows we will need him and more like him.
He had asked me before if I wanted to collaborate in some way on the pod-casts and now that we have met and talked the answer is – YES!

11 11 11 11 identity on remembrance day

I took this picture at Karin Miller’s house. It is the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. This was when world war one ended. Remembrance Day.

This day shaped my identity as a Canadian. We had a remembrance day service every year at school in which we did two things gracefully. Remembering what war is really like and horrible it is (and that we should not do it again ever if at all possible) and a deep honoring of those who did fight in World War One, Two and the Korean War. Veterans sell poppies (plastic ones) starting just before Halloween and the money goes towards veterans. It is the last holiday in Canada before Christmas (we have a micro version of US thanksgiving on the first Monday of October.)

We had the day off and it was not just a bank holiday but a ‘real holiday’ where shat down. My family often watched services on TV or went to them.

I am sad that I did not get to experience remembrance day now that I am in America – it is deep. The days that are different here are numerous and the way we honor them in Canada are part of my identity. It is interesting to watch how when the days happen and you sort of participate but not participate. They you don’t have your ‘own version’ and elements of your identity slip away.

Just something to think about in identity land.

Three Planetworks this week

We had a great week for Planetwork this week. We had an amazing event in DC with 35 really diverse folks (link to photo)on a Friday Night at Busboys and Poets. Our line up was fantastic with CITI seeking good folks to work for them, and several projects serving the third world. We had a sponsor – Gerry of Net Team contributed $200 to make our evening a success. Karin a lawyer and founder of Our New Evolution did a brilliant job of getting the word out and the next one will be in January.

Yesterday in Boston we had a dinner to explore starting a chapter. Most excitingly Neila and Peggy who were part of the original Planetwork first conference (2000) crew in San Francisco. Deborah Elizabeth Finn, Jon Garfunkel, Aldo Casdiena, and Beth Canter were there.

Wednesday Brian Hamlin (yes there is a relation he is my husband) is hosting Planetwork in the East Bay. There is a great line up.

Green Century Institute Discussion of the upcoming Digital Be-In 14: Earth Service – “the Green Be-In” – on Earth Day April 22, 2006 at SOMARTS in San Francisco.
EcoResearch MANAGING ENVIRONMENTAL KNOWLEDGE, 6-8 September 2006 20th International Conference on Informatics for Environmental Protection (EnviroInfo-2006)
E-Waste Insights
Triple Pundit

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we must be wary of the lawyers

The lawyers have learnt their lesson now…When the next disruptive communications technology – the next worldwide web – is thought up, the lawyers and the logic of control will be much more evident. That is not a happy thought.

From Slashdot. More from the article it refers to

Why is the web unlikely? Prepare for a moment of geek-speak. For most of us, the web is reached by general­purpose computers that use open protocols – standards and languages that are owned by no one – to communicate with a network (there is no central point from which all data comes) whose mechanisms for transferring data are also open.

Takeaways – Open and Free.


I spent all day today and will spend all day tomorrow at the Green Festival Collaboration Hub. It has been great fun talking to folks about the work that Planetwork is doing – expanding to 10 cities.

We have a whole group of folks working on the Virtual Civil Society. If you are in the Bay Area it is worth the trip. I had a blast buying professional looking organic cloths.

Here are pictures from today.
Jim is speaking to a packed audience about Eprida (a really cool carbon sequestration technology basically it pulls CO2 out of the atmosphere, makes fuel and fertilizer) there is an article coming out shortly in Scientific America soon. Watch the flash movie to get it.

Leaving the festival there was an ExtraCycle street party – Extracycle is a cool addendum to mountain bikes that make them Sports Utility Bikes (SUB’s). They had one set up with a Blender on the back. And a whole bike embedded sound system pumping away. They are Dancing in the middle. Who needs a hummer?

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