I have been mulling Doc Searl’s discussion of Independent Identity (http://www.itgarage.com/node/768#comment), including Andre Durand’s 3-tiers of identity.
Let’s start with Andre’s 3-tiers:
- “T1 identities are both timeless & unconditional. They are your true personal digital identity and are owned and controlled entirely by you, for your sole benefit.”
I read this and ask – what is my “true personal” identity? Is it who I really am as opposed to some avatar? I don’t think who I REALLY am has a digital manifestation. Is it attribute that I own? Or attributes that I have asserted?
What attributes about me do I actually own? My name? – Not really, I can assert my name but it has no real significance unless attested to by some authoritative 3rd party. I cannot even change my name without a court filing. So what of my name do I own? Are there aspects of my digital identity that I do own? I am leaning toward nothing of any significance. I own, can assert, can prove, and can change of my own volition only things like hair color, weight, dress, behavior, etc. Some things I own but cannot change (at least easily) are my many biometrics. But who cares? What can I do with these? To do anything connected back to the real world requires some kind of T2 identity. Any legitimate T1 identity you have seem to be a simple collection of “authenticator” attributes. They provide identification, but not identity (a Phil Becker concept).
- “Tier 2 is Assigned (Corporate): one given to you by some silo. Every card in our wallets, other than our business cards, are these.”
Tier 2 identity is where the action is. These are the identities that actually have meaning to connect the digital world to the real world (i.e. – doing business). These identities might not have been given to you by the corporation, but they are in some way controlled by a legal institution, not you. As I pointed out above this even includes your name. It certainly includes those things in our wallet that Andre pointed out. Why do we carry a wallet – to do business like buy things, drive a car, get on an airplane. I would even claim that our business cards (excluding the self-employed) are not ours to own and control.
I think what distinguishes the meaningful T1 from T2 is a potentially vague temporal difference in the tie to a 3rd party. Also I would claim T1 identity that many would say is “MINE” only has real value when attested to by an authoritative 3rd party. Again, what my name is without the drivers license to back it up does not carry much weight. If I classify T1 identity as authenticator attributes then T2 are the “authorizer” attributes.
- “Tier 3 is Abstracted (Marketing) and applies to those conditions where some company knows, say, your name and address, but nothing besides that, which doesn’t stop them from spamming you with junk mail.”
I don’t think I am interested in this space, possibly other than to wish it went away.
I think there is another view of this. T1 identity only has meaning when connected to reputation. There are no other attributes that I would care about because I have no assurance they are true. However if I can authenticate an identity is associated with a known reputation I can make business/commerce decisions. This is the path that I think the social discussions are following. However, I am thinking that in the personal world T1 identity without reputation has little if any value. In the business world T1 identity even with reputation has little value, it is all about T2.
So now what does Doc mean when he says MY identity? I have previously said I believe identity is simply a collection of attributes about a subject in a context. That seems to be contrary to Doc’s definition of MY identity. Given that Doc’s a smart guy (that reputation thing), does he mean MY identity is about me having control, management, distribution rights, to the various collections of identity and associated attributes where I am the subject in any context? I would presume this is independent of who owns, asserts, or is authoritative for any given attribute. Because, in the pure sense I have no digital identity that is MY identity – even reputation is bestowed by others.