Jesse always gets me thinking.
I posted a little while back on Identity 2.0. I watched an awesome presentation by Dick Hardt that really made me take a fresh look at the way World Wide Web has been implemented.
Jesse states that due to the fact that Search Engines can basically sum up everything you've ever done online, and you are not in control over that information, that it is likely in the future that companies may make you pay to hide it from public view. I agree that this is a big concern.
When he states that the answer is to have as many identities as possible to water down the value of each one, I must say I disagree there. The reason is, because I believe that the Identity 2.0 approach makes much more sense, and that many identities is what led to this mess in the first place.
What the Identity 2.0 approach? Well if you watch the presentation, you will understand, but let me try and summarize with some examples:
As the web evolves into more of a social enabler (like it has been(Blogs)). It is likely that most people will want to expose their Identity in social circles. This is much like real life.
If you are in a crowded cafeteria and scream that you want to kill someone, it is likely that your identity will be established quickly, and you will face consequences for that action. The web I believe, should have that same paradigm, because in the same light, if I say something brilliant and that brilliant idea ends up making money somewhere, I want to be able to assert that it was my idea. Reputation is something the internet should reflect, it brings value and credibility.
Right now I could go over to Leo Laporte's Blog, call him an idiot and sign the comment as Jesse Warden. Right now there is not really any effective way to prove that he didn't post it, other than establishing yet another identity silo.
So on the other hand: I have worked for years establishing my EBay reputation, and I want to leverage it at Craig's List. Right now you can't, the reason is that there is no universal identity. If I could though I could easily jump right into a new service and take my hard earned online reputation with me.
Now, in some cases, you don't want your Identity to be available to the public. Say if some guy likes to rent porno flicks, but he is also a supreme court judge. Is it possible that an online service could expose that information or even worse have him pay to keep it secret. Is it required that the service know he is a supreme court judge or should he be able to control what information is disclosed where? Whatever, truth is that the problem is in the core of the internet and the fact that we have not implemented identity like the real world does.
For example, If I am buying beer at the beer store, does the guy behind the counter ask me for my name, address, email, phone number, etc. Or does he just ask me for proof that I am over 19? He asks for proof. There is no reason for him to expect/record any other information other than the fact that I proved the claim that I am 19 or older.
This is the problem with the web today, and it is explained in Kim Cameron's Laws Of Identity as the Law of Minimum Disclosure. Because we have no effective identity management on the web, every application is forced to maintain a silo of information about us in order to serve us. There is no other way for an application to validate our credentials other than that.
If there were, then I could have a Flickr account, and all Flickr would need to know about me is that I have a credit card and I have authorized them to bill it for the pro account I have requested. No other information is needed for them to run their service for me. The only way this can occur is if I have some way of presenting credentials to Flickr that are trusted by Flickr.
Obviously this would send a shockwave through the web world though. It has been the case that most of the successful companies that provide services over the net, have done so by monetizing your identity. That has to stop, and application providers need to start behaving like the real world behaves.
Without it, imagine the web being the operating system of the future. Imagine what it would be like if you had to log into every single dll that ran on your machine.
I believe the web should revolve around me, I don't want to revolve around it. I want to leverage my identity when it is appropriate, and remain anonymous when there is no need for me to be named.