From the How-old-are-we-anyways department…

Discovery magazine had this article online addressing the ‘age depression‘ we might have created with our modern educational system. It is interesting to think about how extreme specialization can also lead to immaturity in other aspects of life. I was thinking about it and wondered if WoW and other quest like games might help address some of the need for rights of passage and create opportunities for social learning with diverse groups of people.


A “child-like flexibility of attitudes, behaviors and knowledge” is probably adaptive to the increased instability of the modern world, Charlton believes. Formal education now extends well past physical maturity, leaving students with minds that are, he said, “unfinished.”

“The psychological neoteny effect of formal education is an accidental by-product — the main role of education is to increase general, abstract intelligence and prepare for economic activity,” he explained.

“But formal education requires a child-like stance of receptivity to new learning, and cognitive flexibility.”

“When formal education continues into the early twenties,” he continued, “it probably, to an extent, counteracts the attainment of psychological maturity, which would otherwise occur at about this age.”

Charlton pointed out that past cultures often marked the advent of adulthood with initiation ceremonies.

Identity on Rails

Last weekend there as the first official Ruby on Rails Conference in Chicago. OpenID, Rails and Identity 2.0: Building and Cultivating an Identity Ecosystem. was presented by Matt Pelletier owner of EastMedia a Ruby development shop in NYC that has done a lot of the coding for the Verisign PIP And Kiran Dandekar is a colleague of David Recordon at Verisign and presented at a different time as well….

Here are some of the best summaries from the blogosphere…
Blogging RailsConf:

Digital identity sucks!
* Repetitive
* Complex and inconsistent
* Poor UI
* Lack of control
* Unnecessary

An Open Identity system should be…
* Extensible
* User managed
* Open
* Perpetual (not just used once)
It’s about you

* The general idea is that when you go to a site, you are redirected back to your site, where you log in. The site that you intended to go to communicates to your site and confirms your identity, allowing you into the site you wanted to go to in the first place. And best of all, once you do login once, you’re on: Single Sign On!
* There are attributes that you control. You can specify the attributes that you want to share with each site.
* Some attributes (such as age, like if you are on a site selling alcoholic beverages) need to be verified. Certain companies would then be in the business of verifying OpenID attributes.

Fingerprints of Casper Fabricius

Kiran Dandekar made an entertaining point out of demonstrating the variety of information that has be made available about him in different contexts like business, community, family or alumni. The problem is, he stated, that identities and identity attributes are site centric on the web, so you have to start from scratch entering this information on every site and even identifying yourself, as opposed to when you – for example – board in the airport, and all the airline need to verify your identity is your driver’s license. The driver’s license is not issued by the airline, but nevertheless is accepted to identify you, because the issuer of the identity is trusted.


Matt’s presentation on Sunday morning was on OpenID and is definitely something I intend to track, as the architecture seems really viable. Way smarter than Passport.


Project Bantay
* Blend Yadis + OpenID and offer them as a service
* Building an identity 2.0 stack
o Protocol support
o Yadis
o OpenID 1.1
o Mongrel
o A natural fit for HTTP-heavy protocols
o Tight, fast, secure
o Support for Handlers, Filters
o Zed Shaw is the man
o Identity server
o Single sign on
o Profile management
o Trust requests
o Consumer plugin
o Rails plugin
o Push-button simplicity
o Leverage Rails conventions
o Play nice with “old” idiom of user silo
o Bookmarks demo application
o Testing
o Interesting test environment
o Test libraries
o Test handlers
o Test Rails app
o Test cross-site functionality (Selenium)
o Mongrel Rules!

An identity ecosystem
* Cultivating Services
o Claims verification
o Dating sites: verify your gender
o pr0n: verfiy your age
o Job application: verify your green card
o No posting to kids’ blogs unless you’re <= 14
o Reputation
o Seller reputation
o Weenie reputation
o You can’t post blog comments
o No committing to Rails trunk unless you’re a verified pouty artsy wanker
o Trusting identity providers
+ Needs to be discussed
+ Trust chain
o Wide open marketplace
o Develop creative new services

Next steps
* Download the plugin –
* Download the bookmarks demo app
* Identity Server to be released this summer
* Play around. Use your noodle.

How east and west coast are different….

I had a rather intense awakening to how different the east and west coast are culturally this week.

It seems that on the east coast when people make introductions to other people they have more of a sense of ‘ownership’ of the connection being made. I learned this from talking to a wise old friend sharing with him how a relationship that I had been having some break down in communication and a lot of hurt feelings. There is a cultural norm of including the introducee in the ongoing conversation between the two introduced for a long time. This period ends when the introducee sort of ‘turns the relationship over’ by almost formally bowing out – saying ‘ you two don’t need me any more.’

I had no idea about this cultural norrm. As someone who makes introductions all the time I really like to make them and let go as soon as the first hellos have been made. I don’t have time to manage the number of introductions that I make. I like to know how they worked out and if they are ongoing small updates are nice. But I am not really attached.

So with the above incident was the case and really have hurt some ones feelings a lot. I am not sure how to fix it or how to explain how we do things so differently here on the west coast. It was a big learning and I will work to be more culturally sensitive to east coast norms..

Internet Highjackings on the rise

This past weekend although at home I spent quite a bit of time in Freenode IRC channels for BarCamp and BloggerCon. There were all these weird messages popping up in the corner of my screen – now I know why….

The world’s largest FOSS IRC network, FreeNode, has been (for lack of a better word) hijacked. The culprit, who went by the nickname ratbert, seems to have nabbed the privleges of Robert Levin, President and Executive Director of Peer-Directed Projects Center (FreeNode’s parent organization), AKA lilo. Whew! As if that wasn’t enough in itself, ratbert pushed out an offensive global message and attempted a DCC SEND exploit. He then proceded to kill and/or k-line every staff member in sight, including lilo, and brought down quite a few of FreeNode’s servers.

The rest is too broad and too long to log in full, but mainly consists of FreeNode staff members being killed (with some colorfully interesting reason messages) and cries of “MAYDAY! MAYDAY!” and other expressions of terror throughout the many channels of FreeNode.

“I don’t have home but I have a blog”

This is interesting how technology can actually help the homeless from Wired.

Helping the homeless get e-mail addresses has been a priority for years at shelters across the country. And in an age when most every public library in the nation offers internet access, the net has proven a perfect communication tool for those without a firm real-world address.

“Because of technology, people are able to keep in contact with their families,” Stoops said. And perhaps most importantly, they are able to get some footing in society regardless of how removed from it they may feel.

Las Vegas vagrant Kevin Barbieux runs a blog that’s brought him a dose of digital stardom. He’s been writing The Homeless Guy since 2002. “It’s the only real success I’ve had in my life,” he said. Barbieux’s site garners 12,000 to 15,000 hits a month. He attributes that to the storytelling ethic of his posts, which detail not only his own travails, but those of colleagues in shelters and city parks. Technology has helped him collect donations through a PayPal button on his web page instead of having to panhandle.

Having a presence online can be a problem. Hellerich deleted most blog posts from her homeless days when a prospective employer Googled her and found the page (it cost her the job).

I guess there really is a california bubble

I just found out about the Digital Media Conference that happened in DC on Friday. I am looking at it and wondering – do they (east coasters) live in a totally different reality then we do in California?

The only user generated video on the list is Google Video and You Tube. They have no blogging companies or well known bloggers presenting. I bet they have not even heard of user-centric identity.

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I am a 61 year old man in a zip code I have never been to…

So today I gave in and got a login to the New York Times. Of course I lied about who I was and what I did. I really don’t like that they want me to identify myself every time I want to look at one of there articles. It is another case where I am being asked for information I don’t want to give- I can give it by lying and get in or not give it at all and not.

Emerging Identity Standards

I am deeply conflicted – Standards for users is happening at BloggerCon the same tim as Who Owns You at SuperNova.

So for both “”panels”” I though I would share that this week there were three major developments within the identity sector towards convergence around standards.

i-names global services launched

OpenID 2.0 clarified

and OSIS was formed A Giant Step to Reduce Uncertainty in the Digital Identity Marketplace

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Heading to SuperNova

I am writing this whole post on the lovely highway style bus that runs a block from my house and takes 1/2 an hour to get into San Francisco. It is free today cause it is a ‘spare the air day.’ I am going to SuperNova and will be blogging on their site today.

I flew back from Boston yesterday even detouring through Long Beach so I could get a 11:30 flight but still be back by 4:45 to make the SuperNova party last night. I went with Brad Topliff from ooTao and we made some great connections. The lightbulbs are going on that tapping into a functioning identity layer and user-centricity would make a lot of sense for there business models. Today at the conference there will be a session called ‘Who owns you” similar to where I just came from – “Who controls and protects the digital me?

We had a great time on the third day of open space. the venue was not totally ideal. We got to hold sessions outside and we had sessions around tables and in corners of the main lower atrium of MIT media lab. It would have been good to have breakout rooms and I know at the Identity Open Space in Vancouver there will be.

All reports are that launch for i-names went really well.

Exciting Day for User-Centric Identity

Tomorrow the 20th of June at 7pm we are opening the global registry for i-names. This was announced a few weeks ago by the board. There will be 7 initial ibrokers 6 of whom are opening there doors tomorrow. There is a great site explaining i-names broadly for people and organizations along with a developer site. Cordance (Drummond Reed’s company) has a new website up too articulating its pioneering role in brining user centric, privacy protecting digital addresses to the market :)

This day is a big day for many folks who have been working on this for various lengths of time (any where from 14 years to several months). I began working in the identity space first with the very early alpha experiment that Planetwork did for its 2004 conference. While preparing for that conference (which I worked to evangelize for) I had my first “identity woman” experience about 10 guys gathered to figure out how to kluge several systems together this identity stuff together and all day I listened – learning a lot and said one thing all day. At the end of the day we took a picture and I was the only woman there.

At the conference I was hired by Owen and the Identity Commons (1.0)along with Jan Hauser to work on driving adoption of these new tools in civil society. I was thinking today while talking to Bill Washburn saying that I didn’t think we would be meeting today at Harvard on all these topics if it had not been for Owen’s significant visionary personal investment in the vision of this new identity layer – that really empowered people. The specifics of that early program never came to fruition in exactly the way originally envisioned but the results have been demonstrable in many ways. So tomorrow if you get a chance be sure to say THANK YOU! Owen.
Yesterday, Monday the 19th was a big day with this proposal put forward to the Apache Foundation to become a project there.

The project would start with Yadis for URL/XRI-based service discovery, OpenID for web based single-sign-on and the basis of exchanging profile data, and to create a desktop component with a standard look and feel, ideally working with the Open Source Identity Selector (OSIS) project.

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Identity Gang now a group in Second Life

So today we had someone from Second LIfe talk on the reputation at the identity mashup. I decided to go to SL and start an Identity Gang there so we can have ‘in world meetings’. To join just go to Second Life and search in groups for Identity Gang and join! We need more then three members in three days to stay alive as a group.

Hopefully we can use it to augment the back channel at conferences like this when we are all listening to panels.

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Harvard through Canadian Eyes

Landing in in Cambridge at Harvard today for the start of the ‘identity Mashup‘. The experience of east coast norms of ‘elitism’ have been something that I have had to acclimatize to as I come out here to go to events and conferences. It also is something that rubs up against my “west coast” and “Canadian egalitarianism.” Malcome Gladwell a Canadian and author of The Tipping POint and Blink, captures the subtle world view difference in his recent essay in the New Yorker “Getting In” The article is long but I have exerted here if you want to get the gist of his thesis.

Here is the main thesis from the end of the article in case you don’t want to read to the end.

Élite schools, like any luxury brand, are an aesthetic experience—an exquisitely constructed fantasy of what it means to belong to an élite —and they have always been mindful of what must be done to maintain that experience.

Some quotes from the beginning of the essay…

There was, first of all, that strange initial reluctance to talk about the matter of college at all—a glance downward, a shuffling of the feet, a mumbled mention of Cambridge. “Did you go to Harvard?” I would ask. I had just moved to the United States. I didn’t know the rules. An uncomfortable nod would follow. Don’t define me by my school, they seemed to be saying, which implied that their school actually could define them. And, of course, it did.

What is this “Harvard” of which you Americans speak so reverently?

By the nineteen-sixties, Harvard’s admissions system had evolved into a series of complex algorithms. The school began by lumping all applicants into one of twenty-two dockets, according to their geographical origin. (There was one docket for Exeter and Andover, another for the eight Rocky Mountain states.)

Social scientists distinguish between what are known as treatment effects and selection effects. The Marine Corps, for instance, is largely a treatment-effect institution. It doesn’t have an enormous admissions office grading applicants along four separate dimensions of toughness and intelligence. It’s confident that the experience of undergoing Marine Corps basic training will turn you into a formidable soldier. A modelling agency, by contrast, is a selection-effect institution. You don’t become beautiful by signing up with an agency. You get signed up by an agency because you’re beautiful.

At the heart of the American obsession with the Ivy League is the belief that schools like Harvard provide the social and intellectual equivalent of Marine Corps basic training—that being taught by all those brilliant professors and meeting all those other motivated students and getting a degree with that powerful name on it will confer advantages that no local state university can provide.

The extraordinary emphasis the Ivy League places on admissions policies, though, makes it seem more like a modeling agency than like the Marine Corps, and, sure enough, the studies based on those two apparently equivalent students turn out to be flawed.

You are whom you admit in the élite-education business, and when Harvard changed whom it admitted, it changed Harvard.

The Ivy League schools justified their emphasis on character and personality, however, by arguing that they were searching for the students who would have the greatest success after college. They were looking for leaders, and leadership, the officials of the Ivy League believed, was not a simple matter of academic brilliance. “Should our goal be to select a student body with the highest possible proportions of high-ranking students, or should it be to select, within a reasonably high range of academic ability, a student body with a certain variety of talents, qualities, attitudes, and backgrounds?

Harvard didn’t want lots of relatively happy and successful graduates. It wanted superstars,

This is, in no small part, what Ivy League admissions directors do. They are in the luxury-brand-management business, and “The Chosen,” in the end, is a testament to just how well the brand managers in Cambridge, New Haven, and Princeton have done their job in the past seventy-five years.

Harvard wants good graduates, and part of their definition of a good graduate is someone who is a generous and loyal alumnus. And if you want generous and loyal alumni you have to reward them. Aren’t the tremendous resources provided to Harvard by its alumni part of the reason so many people want to go to Harvard in the first place? The endless battle over admissions in the United States proceeds on the assumption that some great moral principle is at stake in the matter of whom schools like Harvard choose to let in—that those who are denied admission by the whims of the admissions office have somehow been harmed. If you are sick and a hospital shuts its doors to you, you are harmed. But a selective school is not a hospital, and those it turns away are not sick. Élite schools, like any luxury brand, are an aesthetic experience—an exquisitely constructed fantasy of what it means to belong to an élite —and they have always been mindful of what must be done to maintain that experience.

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Citizen Action Team – distributed disaster help matching

One of the most impressive things that I saw at the Organizers Collaborative Conference was the Citizen Action Team. In the wake of Katrina they build a Ruby on Rails Database to match donors offerings of help to groups and institutions who need help. The demoed the database and it was really impressive.

We are a politically unaffiliated, independent group of volunteers that have come together to provide supplies to folks of the hurricane ravaged Gulf coastline. We are serving the least served areas. We are working directly with shelter relief teams in areas such as Lafayette and Baton Rouge, LA, Gulfport and Hattiesburg, MS .

This list will grow as we pin-point and identify needs of other under-served, under-supplied pop-up shelters in the most needy areas. Our campaign begins by establishing need, supplying the basics and then gauging what next will most aid “our” shelters. With efficiency tempered by compassion, we stay in close contact, following donations from collection to distribution. We have established warehouse operations in Lafayette, Gulfport and are now developing other locations.

Hopefully in the next big disaster there will be a real digital addressing infrastructure working to make it even more efficient.

Identity at Organizers Collaborative & A Model for Nonprofit Tech

I had a good time yesterday at the Organizers Collaborative Conference. I presented about the coming identity layer – sharing at a high level i-brokers, profile management and how people might manage their relationships with multiple civil society organizations. Two of my peers Jo Lee and Rob Stuart – long time participants in the nonprofit technology world were there specifically to see the latest developments and were impressed.

Earlier in the morning I stopped into Alissa Fencsik’s presentation on Technology Decision-Making for the Non-Technical Executive. She presented a good high level framework to help think about tech decisions.

At a basic level there is Infrastructure – it is like electricity you just turn it on and it works – all your staff have their own computers, they have e-mail accounts, you are doing regular backups etc.. With this layer in place it creates a foundation that prevents problems, minimizes damage if a problem arise and eliminates inefficiency.

Next is Automation with the goal of achieving business objectives more efficiently providing time savings, more information, addresses issues proactively not reactively and supports more effective and targeted marketing.

Innovative uses of technology are those that create social change by leveraging the new communication possible via the web and other information and communication technology (like text messaging). This might include new programs to address a community need or new tools that transform the ability to execute on mission.

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Identerati by Mark Dixon

I got to meet Mark for the first time last week at the Burton group. He has totally impressed me with this aggregate list in table form of the identerati. check to see if you are on it – if you are not and want to be just e-mail him. It is an amazing collection of links at He says this a the top of the page.

I find it fascinating to study people who work in the Digital Identity industry – the Identarati. We can learn much from each other as we all seek to advance the state of the art in this industry.

I cannot hope to meet or even read about each of the myriads of people who are contributing to this dynamic industry. However, as a student of Identity Management, I am constantly learning about new people and listening to what they have to say.

I have decided to share my list of the Identarati with you. This isn’t a top ten list. It is simply a compilation of links to many of the interesting people I have discovered in my quest of Discovering Identity. If you would like to nominate yourself or someone else you know for this list, please send me an email via =MarkDixon. I’d be delighted to learn about you and what you have to say. For those of you already on the list, please let me know if I need to update your information.

Identity Gang meeting Catalyst


Originally uploaded by Kaliya.

We had a great Identity Gang meeting at 7am yesturday morning at Burton Group Catalyst. Paul put forward doing a Lexicon 2.0 to define some new things. He got some volunteers to help with that and is looking for more if you are interested.

Paul and I shared the news about Identity Commons “2.0” moving forward in forming a nonprofit structure. The purpose is to support the many working groups in the community having a common wiki and other infrastructure.

Mary and Me

Kaliya and Me

Originally uploaded by mary hodder.

I just found this great photo on Flickr. Thought i would try uploading it as my first ever photoblog post. If you have not checked out Mary’s company Dabble you should – it is they way you can share cool video’s like THE WORD: Managization with your friends just go to

Catalyzing Hospitality night one

The Hospitality suites were once again fun this year. I thought I would hand out some ‘awards’:

I think First Prize goes to Novell for their Star Trek theme. The whole room was spacey covered in fabric with pinpoints of light. They had live spacy groovy yet ambient music. I have a 1 min video of it here.

Fun and Engaging goes to the ActiveIdentity San Fransico Idol Suite with Karaoke. Eve Maler and I did a duet (sort of – I was back up). Later on in the evening William Hung gave a performance too.

Theme aligned with Name of company for the second year in the row goes to Element – for their Earth Wind Water Fire Theme complete with the ICE Bar and dramatic ‘elemental’ video on the wall.

Women are lovely. I am not against them helping out in a hospitality suite that are after all supposed to be fun. There are all sorts of ways to employ their help in tasteful and respectful ways. So these to awards are a pair –

  1. Lovely Lady Suite Support is a tie going to the Horse Racing lady and the Nascar recruiter. There work was captured on video.
  2. Worst Booth Babe goes to Layer Seven for this lovely number in a very reveling mini skirt propositioning people to come to their wine tasting in the hall way. Runner up goes to passlogic.

Worst Theme to build trust goes to IBM for Alcatraz Prison “Hotel” complete with the IBM staff being prison guards or perhaps prisoners.

Bland goes to Microsoft Apparently didn’t get “MARKETING” involved in anyway with its room. It had Italian food in the middle and booths of all these different companies sharing how they were all working together. Ping, and Sun among them.

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Identity as a Commons, like, air, water or energy

On the serious side of his talk here at Catalyst Mike N. put forward an understanding of market forces Identity as a Commons. Looking at the how the vendors none of whom can capture the plain have staked out positions in the mountains.
Along those lines one of the topics we will talk about at the Identity Gang meeting tomorrow will be identity commons 2.0.

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THE WORD: Managiziation

Mike Neuenschwander gave a GREAT performance this morning. Last year he destroyed a guitar on stage and assured us that it had a good life in guitar heaven. This year he brought us THE WORD: Managization. I captured it using my camera’s video function. You can check it out over on my Vlog.

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Mashup Banking a no go – says Jamie Lewis

This morning’s opening session at Catalyst was great.
Jamie talked about a range of issues including the Inconvenient truths.
That stronger authentication by itself will not make us more secure. All Authentication is dependent on assurance that is a human process and is vulnerable to low tech attacks.

He highlighted the fact that identity management and particularly as it moves into the web is very much a social problem.

The fact that much of the Web 2.0 crowd was going towards simpler protocols was happening but also that these tools would not really work in the context of online banking….

Mashups and Banking just don’t go together.