Skip to navigation

Friday, October 11, 2002

Doc Searls on Identity Infrastructure

[I'm posting this initially without links, as Doc was talking fast and I've got to catch a flight. Will put them in later.] As his warm up, Doc ran a slide show of the stills he's been taking with his video cam through the show...scary! ID vs. ego -- what would Freud think? (Blogging this talk is not going to do it justice because Doc's slides are great; hopefully he'll post them.) His identity involves being Senior Editor of The Linux Journal, co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, and author of his weblog. You're most likely to find him via his weblog (gave astronomical stats about his Google juice), although the other two certainly are popular. Providing history of his association with Weinberger, Locke and Dyson; coining of RageBoy moniker, Locke's alter "ID." AKA Doc: parents tend not to name kids after dwarves, gunslingers, etc. But Doc was in radio at Duke University [God, AKMA has a huge, wonderful laugh]. "Doctor Dave" character came from a nickname and a cartoon of a gremlin-fellow burning his eyes into a typewriter. Current news: RB's in love, Doc's highlighting "What Do Women Really Want? Me." [RB arrives just in time for the punchline...] Doc blogged a suggestion that Esther Dyson is Locke's love interest; took it down when someone emailed him, "Really???" Audience hisses, he may put it back up. Great slide-gestalt about the industry-speak at this event [DMH aside: in case you were wondering? the terms "space" and "value added" are alive and well and have spawned evil progeny]. Doc's linking to the Web Economy Bullshit Generator. You get the idea. But, what are we making with the Net, and how? Giving example of trying to get online in London. Internet cafe, laying out all the WiFi nodes in London. Discovered the nearest node and off he went to Kynance Muse. Sat outside at Cafe Delice for coffee and free broadband. Others are coming along doing the same. Doc: "Excuse me is this your node?" stranger: "You're Doc Searls! Well fuck me, I'm Ben Hammersley!" And Doc hung out with Ben, wife and friends for the rest of the weekend. "Blog globally, flog locally." Contemplating the irony of infrastructure, plugging a passer-by's business on his blog. Noticing no one's using the public phones on the street. Weekend culminated in Doc hanging out with wild local geeks at Garlic and Shots. Meets Matt Jones the Warchalking guy, who asks Doc what he thinks. "I think it's the freakin' second coming!" and off they went, and watched nature take its course. Self-making infrastructure at work. A wireless end-run around ISPs and the entire phone company. WiFi once again proves that the Net is fundamentally Gonzo. Markets are conversations; conversation is fire; marketing is arson. Capsule version of what Locke talks about in Gonzo Marketing. What Digital ID needs is something that catches fire. The big boys aren't going to do it. One of us is going to have to invent something that mothers necessity. That's how things work in Silicon Valley, that's what we have to drive here. Craig Burton's (Burton Group) model of the Net. Networks used to be all about pipes, protocols and stacks. Novell changed that. Craig thinks of the Net as a world. "Think of the Net as a hollow sphere made entirely of the people and the resources it connects. It's the first world made by people, for people. We've only begun to terraform it. One of the virtues is the emptiness in the middle. It's all end-to-end." Everything's the end of the sphere, whatever it's sitting on. No one owns it. Everyone can improve it (protocols and products that use them). Marc Andreessen said, "Technology trends start with technologists." So what were technologists up to when they started this world? (Great slide of Internet pioneers.) They were not up to business. They were trying to create civilization in a very general sense. Stewart Brand, Long Now Foundation. In civilization, the slowest thing to change is nature, fashion and commerce change most quickly. The "founders" didn't come from those quickly changing top layers. The Net infrastructure and protocols they created actually support markets. Eric Raymond helped us characterize them as "bazaars." Most geeks do want infrastructure to support markets; just a matter of perspective. Net infrastructure is human-created geology. But Hollywood's anti-Net forces don't understand the Net's infrastructure. Only understand content and distribution. Rob Glaser commented that they don't understand infrastructure that changes faster than interest and fashion. Hollywood sees the net as a plumbing system for intellectual property and other "content," and geeks (and Larry Lessig) see the Net as a place, a commons. But metaphor-wise, the Net has become this natural resource of building materials for business. All this free stuff; think Paul Bunyan, everything grows on trees. We use construction metaphors: projects, architectures, designers, builders. About who does the work and how, and there's no Microsoft [from Rob Glaser]. Commercial interests often don't see the free and open sources of infrastructure, and free software and open source geeks often don't see the creative nature and accomplishments of commercial interests (see Dave Winer). It's easy to collapse distinctions and confuse what appropriate opposites are. If you get past the politics you have a useful framework. Things get driven to ubiquity, and from ubiquity comes infrastructure. Companies like IBM work this matrix like a chess board. You either cause ubiquity or adapt to its inevitability. Apple's great at this too, especially since Jobs came back. Open source, Apache, Jabber (iChat), mpeg 4; strategically they can sort things out. They're giving away their iApps, even though not open source, not in the public domain. RealNetworks just got into this game, has similar strategy. Web services are the result of infrastructure chaos. In the chaos emergent behavior and adoption happens. Identity services will come out of this chaos as well. We can't build the products we need until these things get adopted. Layers of civilization, the Burton matrix: what they have in common is infrastructure, which wants to be open and in the public domain. We want more of that in order to build the stuff that's commercial on top of it. How do you get this? Cause chaos, then take advantage of it. Like Real. Infrastructure supports commerce, commerce supports infrastructure, symbiotic. Hollywood sees it differently: commerce governs infrastructure and the natives can go to hell. Doc thinks Hollywood will fail because this is *our* world. Identity infrastructure will be built around sovereign, individual IDs. Doc doesn't think anyone wants to be treated like or thought of as "you the consumer." [See Brad's comment from my DRM panel yesterday.] What if I'm coming at you with something that makes me a more powerful and interesting customer? An interesting follow-up from Cluetrain. Doc met an African guy on a plane. Markets are not just conversations, they're relationships. In your culture, the guy told him, you have a whole language that says business is about the bottom line, language of exchange is richer and more established than the relationship vocabulary; trumps it when things get tough. The Net is not about the bottom line, it's fundamentally about relationships. Once we empower the customer to come to companies with more ways to relate, we will have the ID structure we want. But we need that fire to start, so support the geeks at the center of your Earth (e.g., the PingID folks). Question from David Weinberger: Wish you could have spoken on the first day so you could have conditioned more of the discussion here. Question is, are you saying infrastructure can never be done from the top down? No, but Microsoft actually contributes to the bottom layers too, has open-sourced alot of things. The problem with using Microsoft as an example is it's a conversational black hole, you introduce it and the conversation falls in, no other light escapes. Microsoft is in a better position than Hollywood because they have alot of relationships with alot of customers. They have a concept of what that means. Example: creation and turning loose of Usenet newsgroups. Marketing 101: "Excel is full of crap one person asked for." An uncredited reason for Microsoft's success. Talking paperclips were put there for the customer, somehow. Question from audience member: how do you create chaos as you discussed, and what about tension between technologists who want control over identity infrastructure, and individuals who don't want anyone to have that control? Most people don't want to know more than that when they're using their credit card for transactions on the Net, they're not going to get screwed. Doc: about setting fires, see Warchalking example, Cluetrain example. Recognize a good idea that no one's talking about or doing, realize everyone thinks/wants it, put it up there and see what happens. Being a powerful customer doesn't have to be complicated, and individuals don't have to care how things work. Just need to show up a little stronger than they're doing now. It's not enough to be a "IK Flyer," for example. Somebody has to facilitate the demand. There's a blank space where the invention is needed. Is it a smartcard? Could be, don't know. Question from audience member: Re your diagram with the "me" in the middle. Idea that ID is something that you do to people, versus something that people do for themselves, for convenience. "Digital action figures," someone chimes in. Doc: watch the prepositions for how we understand things. Listen to Hollywood, it's all "through" the Net, as opposed to "on," "in," etc. Digital Hollywood conferece. Utterly unwired. Doc asked about TiVos. Everyone had them, loved them, was fast-forwarding commercials. Question from Chris Locke: when I got into whatever this is, I was concerned about fixed field databases -- first, last, mother's maiden name. When we start to talk about Digital ID, you're talking about fashion and commerce as the defining forces, which characterize humans in transactional terms. Glad to hear you talking about weblogs, because they change that. Humans are humans. Doc concurs, his blog is public email. There are more facets to the way he relates to the world. Frank Paynter, me, the shirt my Dad made, "Blogged by Doc Searls on X date." God bless him. [Yes, do!] Question from audience member: All of identity not about transactions. Hear, hear.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Chat With Nat

Nathan Torkington with O'Reilly blogged our DRM panel and will have an MP3 of it available at that link this afternoon. I had the greatest chance meeting with Nat before the panel. It went like this. He and I were clustered with our laptops by the registration table, plugging in to the powerstrips there. My purpose at the time was to jump on to iChat and hook up with Kevin Marks, stranded back in California. Kevin was going to walk me through using Quicktime Broadcaster to send him the audio of the panel. We figured out that wouldn't work because of NAT issues with the IP address assigned by the WiFi (I'm merely pretending to know what that might mean). Though the WiFi NAT was less than cooperative, the Nat next to me was just the opposite. While I was iChatting away with Kevin, I was real world chatting with Nat, who when he learned the predicament offered to make an MP3 of the panel and email Kevin. Perfect! Okay, but not all. Logged off iChat, checked email. Kevin had sent me the video from the O'Reilly OS X conference, of Dan Gillmor and others discussing DRM. (Kevin has been absolutely great at keeping me up to speed on the latest permutations and commentary in this area.) By this time, Nat and I were past the "who are you with?" part, so I told him, Hey, Kevin sent me this O'Reilly conference DRM video. And Nat said, Hey, I took that O'Reilly conference DRM video! We proceeded to impress the hell out of ourselves by transferring the video and our contact information from computer to computer over the WiFi via iChat and Rendezvous. The panel talk itself went well I think, particularly David's organization and focus, but I'm admittedly biased. We had too little time and too much to try to cover. I'll try to blog my notes and sources soon. --Later: Nat's commentary is here. I couldn't agree with him more that the education divide on this topic is daunting. I also was about to say that I think the CBDTPA has more impact as leverage than law -- i.e. I don't think it will pass -- but then looked around for enough wood to knock on to counteract such an assertion, and came up empty. Move along then, nothing to see here...

Freedom To Blink

One of the things I love about weblogs is the way they let people share relevant information quickly yet unobtrusively. Nikolaj Nyholm (more here) writes, "The Wave supporters are worried that DIDW is not giving them any traction. 'So many blogs and not a peep about Wave.'" He points to Wave and the white paper about user managed privacy available for download from this page -- as well as hopefully eliminating the need to take prisoners.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Howard Comes Through, Of Course

Howard Bashman serves up characteristically good fare regarding today's Eldred argument, including a firsthand report from a reader. Too many posts for all the direct links; scroll, scroll, scroll his blog.

Picture An Argument

Preview of Coming Attractions; Eldred; Slashdot

At lunch, Dr. Weinberger and Peter Biddle were discussing issues relating to the DRM panel tomorrow (Peter spearheads Palladium, and works with my co-panelist Brad Brunell), which toward the end was boiling down for me to questions of policy vs. architecture -- where do you put the controls? Does it matter if all you're doing is enabling the controls? News to me: Palladium stays away from managing audio formats (e.g., MP3s), which get handed to the regular Windows OS. (Related Wired story quoting Peter from July.) Kevin Marks provides a pointer to this summary from Kwin, who attended the Eldred argument. He also let me know the DIDW blogger crew has been Slashdotted; the thread is here.

Digital Identity, Digital Photography

Some pictures I took from today's sessions and lunch are over here.

Digital ID And Open Source

Doc is moderating this panel, and appropriately enough the guy in front of me is running Linux. So off we go... Ken Klingenstein with Internet 2 thinks they are working on what may become the TCPIP of digital identity. Federation, a natural in the higher education realm. "If you lead with identity, privacy is gone. You need to have a mechanism of concealing identity until that moment it is needed... My privacy is important to me; yours is not particularly important to me; I will sell my privacy for an appropriately attractive rubber squeeze toy." "Shibboleth:" open source, being released in 3-4 weeks. Designed to address privacy and identity issues. Most important component is the attribute authority. Federations, "Club Shib." Large scale library pilot underway; have seen things like an 85% drop in help desk calls. Doc introduces balance of panel discussion by noting that digital identity technolgy is at what Dave Winer described as "the implementation phase of Cluetrain;" and David Weinberger or Chris Locke noted that "networked markets are getting smarter faster than companies." (The two of them are here, look at each other, point fingers.) Ken: How long does it take to install Shibboleth? Somewhere between 5 hours and 4 years. Bryan Field-Elliot of Ping ID: let's make sure the protocols are unencumbered, then vendors can add what they'd like on top. Question from audience: tension between usability and power. Ken: It's up to the enterprise to shape the release of information so the users aren't bothered and their privacy is protected. His gut feeling is your identity service provider is going to be your bank. Dick Hart: open source allows identity providers to innovate, be able to do different things. Biggest problem is what's a protocol, what's an infrastructure. An open source model on the base piece lets innovation get built on top. Bryan: there's an infrastructure problem with existing sites and services; will need new software: "It's like inventing the successor to the browser and the successor to the Web server at the same time, and getting everyone to install them at once." Question from audience: how about government as centralized body to do digital ID, that everyone trusts and respsects (elicits chuckles)? Bryan: can anyone be trusted other than a government institution? Can all these identity threads ever congeal on their own, can the vendors and players get together to hammer out what looks like a real infrastructure without the gov't coming in? Two separate questions. As to the first, the issues are self evident. As to the second, he wonders, but they forge ahead. Question from audience: I don't want any organization having control of my identity. I don't trust enterprises. I don't trust the government. I want to be the center of my identity. One of the things open source has going for it is it puts the user at the center. Could the panel explain if it can do this for us? Can it give humans control that need not be relinquished? Ah, what a good question but we are out of time! I'd check Doc's page later...

Eldred Updates

Donna, parts I and II; Ernie; Howard.

Identity And e-Government

(Check with Bret Fausett about Mahi De Silva's presentation, also going on now.) With David Temoshok and Phil Windley, aka Phil Windley. Premise: governments are in the business of identity management. Phil's discussing the functions of a driver's license: identifies you, authenticates you, authorizes you to drive and may impose conditions on that. Digital signatures, the UETA, digital certificates. Government has abdicated its responsibility in the issuance of digital signatures. Rights issues, privacy issues. You interact with government in a couple of ways: in a recurring manner (renewals, taxes), or you have a life event, like you're moving to a new state. Would be nice if there were a system with one site, one form, one payment to take care of all the new government requirements. Need portable identity information for this to work. Utah, for example, keeps names in over 200 separate databases. Tension between privacy and quick, effective interactions with government. Other problems: governments don't realize they're in the identity business, have abdicated the responsibility for identity issues. Big problem is technology can't solve the real identity problems; you need policymakers to solve these problems, but in reality legislators have no specialized training, get lots of information from lobbyists. Citizens need to pay attention to educating legislators about these issues. If citizens aren't involved, the "black helicopter crowd" will make these decisions. David's now speaking to what the federal government is doing about authentication. Expanded electronic gov't is on the President's management agenda. Initiatives in process, Mark Foreman, Quicksilver. All involve government business processes requiring identification. Irony: the digital signature law was wet-signed..."Changing culture is a big deal, and that's really what we're up against." Building for interoperability, "the authentication gateway." Functionality that sits behind a general gov't portal. Need ability to determine the trustworthiness of credential providers and the credentials they issue. One way to do this is public key encryption/infrastructure (PKI). Gov't needs to be setting standards for accredidation. Would like this to be meaningful not just to the federal government, but to other governments and industry, higher education. Federal gov't has built separate PKI domains; federal bridge certification authority enables easy transactions and interoperability across those domains. David's phone, 202.208.7655, email, referenced sites:;;

D.C. Checks In

LawMeme is Live, From Eldred v. Ashcroft. More from Doc's discussion board.

From The Folks Who Brought You The Hummer

(They also brought you XM Satellite Radio.) Dang it, just lost most of my thoughts about Tony Scott's talk, but the gist has been that digital identity issues are permeating all of GM's projects these days, from customer relationships to inventory control to production. OnStar, GM Online Auctions, direct-to-consumer ordering in Brazil, the My Socrates employee portal. GM is part of the Liberty Alliance to help give business input into digital identity infrastructures, and work toward common standards and interoperability. Regarding data tracked by OnStar: "You can see a model where you log into the car." Would give you access to same resources you would have at your office or at home. "The thought of having to do control-alt-delete as you're driving down the highway is a little scary." What's to come: gas to fuel cells; mechanics to "drive by wire" (piloting like the space shuttle). Things that look like IT industry standards will begin to have parallels in the automotive field. Differences in car environment, most of today's IT tech wouldn't survive very well. "People won't wait for the car to boot up."

Welcome To Your ID

Phil Becker is giving some opening remarks, Doc is to my left, and we've met our first challenge of the conference -- power! Frank Paynter's in the house, and will be blogging the conference here. Phil is talking about boom-bust cycles in technology: mainframes to pcs. People started to see the computer could become theirs in a certain way. Not to be feared, but your own personal leverage. By '84, Hollywood was making movies like War Games: premise, child with a computer and a modem could go one on one with U.S. defense infrastructure. '92, Sneakers: it's not about who has the most bullets, it's about who controls the information. Move away from computers as hardware to what computers are doing. '95, Hackers: continued the trend. Identity issues began to take shape as computers transitioned from huge, expensive, cumbersome mainframes to having near universal access to connect and use a computer. Demographic differences between those operating computers and the general public are being eliminated. "Any information that touches this network is relentlessly driven into the public domain." Identity is central thread which will enable security, control, manageability and accountability in a distributed network...but these things do not come without costs to rights like privacy. Security: firewalls and VPNs are the last stand, the effort to create physical security in cyberspace. Identity infrastructures and security are closely intertwined. Privacy: enforcing a negative, is about what those gathering data agree not to do with it. Privacy through architecture will inherently be more trustworthy than privacy through policy. [DMH aside: assumes the data will necessarily be gathered; just a question of how it's used or not...are we willing to concede this?] Authentication: "federation" is a big buzz word, refers to integration, how separately managed identity stores work together. Web services: about trying to take integration up a level in the "stack." Cites the WiFi flowing freely in the room here. How can I buy my next software package and plug it into all the data in the packages I've already got? Security and standards all exist to make the round plugs and square plugs fit together. Types of identity: enormous subject, as varied as the Internet itself. This conference is about the identity conversation: understanding it, and moving it forward. AKMA and Dr. Weinberger just arrived (Dr. W's blogging the conference here). (Can I just say what a kick it is to be sitting here blogging shoulder to shoulder with Doc?)

Three Great Reasons To Fly From Southern California To Denver

(1) The Grand Canyon; (2) The Rockies; and (3) Digital ID World 2002. Among today's highlights: Doc on Open Source and Identity and Phillip Windley on Identity Management in State and Federal Government. More importantly at the moment, breakfast. (If you see me today, remind me to wish my grandmother a happy 93rd birthday, and check in on Eldred v. Ashcroft.)

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Fun With WiFi and RSS

"In addition to a Cyber Cafe where participants can get internet access, a Wi-Fi network will be available at Digital ID World 2002. Access will be available in all of the session meeting rooms, on the Exhibit Floor, and in most of the hallways and common areas on the first and second floors of the Hotel." [Digital ID World] I'm on the road today to the Digital ID World conference. Note the link off that page to "Real-Time Coverage." That's the RSS aggregator developed by the Digital ID World crew for use by bloggers in attendance at the gig -- can you say blog-a-long?

Cranial Comics

Monday, October 07, 2002

Buy The Book, Read The Blog

Rick Klau has co-authored the Lawyer's Guide To Marketing On The Internet (2d Ed.), and the conversation continues on the book's blog.

Big Week

Eldred v. Ashcroft will be argued on Wednesday. In addition to the Eldred site, visit LawMeme (Parts I & II of the brief primer are super) and How Appealing (Howard pointed to this Newsweek piece by Steven Levy yesterday, for example) for more and more to come; and Digital ID World starts Wednesday. Thoughts about this panel? This movie? email me. -- Update: No surprise that Donna's got Eldred well covered too.

Creative Commons LicenseUnless otherwise expressly stated, all original material of whatever nature created by Denise M. Howell and included in the Bag and Baggage weblog and any related pages, including the weblog's archives, is licensed under a Creative Commons License.