P.T. Ong has come out of his corner swinging with some excellent questions of Phil Windley and the industry, hoping to point out and clarify the definitional challenges he, Dave Kearns, and I have been flogging mercilessly over the past weeks (If a tree falls . . .). It's worth looking at the questions, regardless of which side of the debate you're on, because they put into bold relief the challenge of the language and any attempts to move forward effectively. I think Phil's post (On the word 'Identity' which he comes to via Johannes Ernst's support for Phil's position that there is a challenge in defining identity: Phil Windley puts his finger on why defining "Digital Identity" is hard.) is merely the catalyst for these questions, because by reading through the post itself, Phil is showing concern for the ontology of our developing industry. And that is half the battle.
The next stop is Kim Cameron's Digital Identity Weblog. Kim is critical to this part of the debate for various reasons, not the least of which are:
My post that triggered (or at least way synchronous with Phil's navel gazing about the language of identity) is just below: The living language of identity. In it I crassly begged the technologists -- naming Kim and Phil as exemplars -- to choose other language and leave the loaded words like identity outside the technical sphere. David Kearns, almost simultaneously found a bizarre use of the term "digital identity" on an XBox game, and "screamed" out that this was a perfect example of why and how the term digital identity was getting fucked up beyond recognition and value. (Well, he didn't actually say that, but that's how I read it.) In any event, Kim's post referred to in the last bullet above is an apology for the use of the term "digital identity" in a game. He says,"
I'll deal below with Burton's "ubiquity" and why it's a red herring in this discussion right now. More significantly is the obvious and diametrically opposed views that Kim and I hold viz. digital identity. (And, I should note, that I just read David Kearn's response to Kim's post. You should too, here: Identity is my racket.) Let me be clear:"***** Top Spin 2
"One of the top Xbox sports games, in both sales and popularity returns for another victory on Xbox 360. Everything you loved about Top Spin is back and made even better. The peerless player-creator is reborn with the powerful DigitalIdentity that truly puts you in the game. Experience the pro tour in venues that are alive and dynamic with environmental elements that react to your play. Characters are even more stunning with the addition of HD technology and the inclusion of the top players in the world like Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt and Roger Federer. Put it all online and you once again have the greatest tennis game ever created.
"Digital Identity - Create realistic player models and customize them with the highest level of details. Hairstyles, shirts, shorts, shoes, etc. allow you to create a player with your look and your style. Coupled with the ability to taunt your opponents with different attitudes, Top Spin 2 truly gives your player his own Digital Identity ()
I'm fascinated by the line, "Coupled with the ability to taunt your opponents with different attitudes". Could this technology have broad applicability to a number of professional uses???
Anyway, I think these player models - and all other virtual entities - are, in fact, examples of digital identities.
People learn a lot about the world by playing with toys. And its not just kids who learn this way.
The emergence of digital identity toys tell us that we are using the right name, not the wrong one. They represent an important step forward on the road to Craig Burton's "ubiquity".
As for Craig Burton's crying "ubiquity," I don't think anyone could argue with the (brief) position and logic. Of course open, standardized identity architectures and protocols, and so forth, are essential to reach ubiquitous of an identity system. And only a ubiquitious identity system will release all the potential capability and value of the system. Look around you today at what exists for identity in the "real world." How much of a stretch is Craig's position. [Admission: I have no idea from a technology perspective just what a leap this might be. So, maybe it is revelation, I don't know.] I'm going to presume that Craig Burton is a very smart guy and if this seems like something wise and revealing to him, I'll accept it.
In this context, discussing the language of identity in the exchanges among all those usual suspects linked to here, it's a red herring. It doesn't mean anything at all. But now I too have linked to Craig Burton and hopefully he'll look at the Technorati trackback and read this post. And, more hopefully, he'll link back with a scathing flame -- and my readership will go up and the Identirati will be forced to no longer simply ignore any of this.
Maybe not.Posted by Grayson at October 10, 2005 03:13 PM