This blog post is Part-2 of a series that started as the ongoing thinking after our Digital Identity Tour in June 2010. In Part-1, I developed the idea of the Unpolished Diamond.
Today, I will entertain you on the concept of a Digital Identity Tuner, which in its own is also a further evolution of the Identity Rights System 3.0 post of March 2010.
It all started coming together when – during the tour – we visited PayPal.
These folks of PayPal basically told us to forget what we had seen earlier in the week. These are probably some of the smartest identity folks around, so you pay attention.
Indeed, I was amazed how much further ahead they were, not only in their conceptual thinking, but also in the pace at which they define and rapidly test new protocol standards.
The eye-opener for me was that there is no business in identity, but there is some significant potential when flipping the discussion to sharing and managing of user data.
It is not that much about identity,
but more about digital footprint.
Happens that a couple of weeks later I read Tony Fish’s book My Digital Footprint, where the author explains razor sharp that there is a difference between digital identity and digital footprint.
At about the same time, I saw appearing on the internet all sorts of semantically tagged enabled viewers, like this one from Recorded Future.
Recorded Future lets you search and find for events, based on the WHAT, the WHO/WHERE and the WHEN.
What if we could do this
for a person’s digital footprint ?
Here is where my Digital Identity Tuner comes into the picture:
Remember those old radios ? You could “tune” into a radio channel, and there was a big button, and if you turned that button an arrow would move over a “map” of pre-defined radio stations.
What if we could do the same on your digital footprint ?
The spectrum above is my “Digital Persona” as generated recently by MIT’s Digital Personas project. Personas shows you how the internet sees you.
Every color in the spectrum is about a certain dimension of your digital footprint: books you read, education, political preferences, musical preferences, professional attributes, etc, etc…
What if you could make that spectrum “clickable” ? Not only via a browser, but also via API’s. What if you could zoom in/out that spectrum or certain aspects of it ?
So far, we have “tuned” in two dimensions:
- On the horizontal axis, hovering over the different color dimensions
- On the “depth” axis, zooming in/out to get more or less detail
Let me add the third dimension of Time.
I could tune into the past, but I could also tune into the future, as my digital footprint does not only contain past behavior, but also contains real-time data (such as devices that I may wear to beam my heartbeat-data to the Microsoft or Google or Wallgreens or whoevers Healthvault when running a couple of miles on my cloud enabled Nike shoes.
It also contains data about my future, as I keep my calendar in Google Calendar, for example. Or the event for which I bought tickets. Or even on-line streaming events for which I subscribed.
UPDATE-2: or check out this TED Video, on the Quantified Self, with Gary Wolf’s intriguing new pastime: using mobile apps and always-on gadgets to track and analyze your body, mood, diet, spending — just about everything in daily life you can measure — in gloriously geeky detail.
So, the third dimension is time.
What if I would have a sort of
that could let me navigate through my digital footprint on those three dimensions. It’s like steering a helicopter via remote control.
Or maybe more dimensions. You would end-up with something that navigates you through a fractal or so…
Of course, we don’t live alone on this planet.
We are part of tribes
with leaders and followers
I love the metaphor of “SWARM”
Imagine that we have a similar digital tuner for navigating the swarm. For seeing links between the WHO’s in the swarm.
UPDATE: just a couple of hours after my initial posting of this blog entry, I came across this great post by Greg on Digital Tonto about “The Story of Networks”. At the end he refers to a great TED talk by Nicholas Christakis “How social networks predict epidemics”
In essence, it shows the “swarm” of communities, leaders and followers and their relationships. And how germs, ideas, memes, etc spread in a community based on the same S-curves as innovations happen. Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, is an internist and social scientist at Harvard University who conducts research on social factors that affect health, health care, and longevity.
So far, we looked at “navigating”. But the system would also allow me to define and manage who gets access to what parts of my digital footprint in what specific contexts or constraints. Not only “access”, but also “usage”.
For all that to happen, we need to fundamentally rethink how we deal with digital footprint.
We have to navigate away from identity systems that mimic our brick-and-mortar world, that are still based on the metaphor of identity cards, or passports, or electronic equivalents based on PKI systems and certificates.
No, we almost need a new semantic tagging language. Not to “tag” pages or servers, but to tag my digital footprint.
And not only “tag” it but allocate and manage “usage” rights to it. And I should be the owner of those data, whether they sit on my computer, in Facebook, or distributed open source models like Diaspora.
So that I end up with a collection of different “where’s” where data about me is kept. It may lead to some new form of DNS, but then a DNS of people. Not pages or servers.
Maybe all this is a bit of futuristic/iconoclastic thinking. Maybe. But when reading the book “Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently” by Dr. George Berns, I came across the following two sentences and took them a little bit out of … context.
But they are so relevant to our identity context:
There are two paths in spectrum: one for identity/categorization and the other for digital footprint / Trail / history/future (time dimension, recording, in the future,…)
The high road is concerned with extracting where objects are located and throws away the elements related to their identity. The low road, on the other hand, is concerned with identification and categorization, and less so with objects’ spatial locations
As Tony Fish so well articulated in his book: we have to separate identity an footprint.
about internet identity
has moved from identity to footprint
how we are going to manage that
with a privacy ethic
that is adapted
to our hyper-connected world
Privacy is not dead. It needs to be redefined.