Identity is Mashed Up
I posted last month about Bob Blakely’s podcast with Phil Windley.
Now (by which I really mean last month, wow I’m running behind!) Bob posts that the “Relationship Paper Now Freely Available,” and I’m embarrassed to say I stole Bob’s opening sentence.
Now that I’ve actually read the paper, I’d like to remix the ideas with some web 2.0 Zero Knowledge Infomediation craziness and having thus altered it, send it back out, its identity changed.
One of the core ideas in the paper is that of intermediaries who will represent for you. These intermediaries, who Bob says have a ‘custodial relationship with your data,’ rather than a transactional one, will know lots about you, and gossip as you let them. It’s like letters of introduction or recommendation–you select who you think can represent you well, and if they have a relationship with the person you want to talk to, then things are great.
This is a useful model because a business can perform due diligence on a few of these infomediaries, rather than on each customer. I’m using the phrase infomediary, which some of you may remember from the book Net Worth. The idea was you’d have someone representing you to the net, who would help you get good deals. It was a very consumer-centric idea in some ways, advertising-centric in others.
The difference with the 1990s infomediary concept is that Bob has a great angle on why a business would want to engage with the infomediary, rather than engage in surveillance itself.
It’s a compelling vision, but I’m not sure I buy it as a complete view of identity. As a citizen, I don’t want to work with a single identity provider. The lock in risk seems very high.
But worse, I don’t have one identity. My identity is created through a set of relationships: with family and friends, with employers, but also with colleagues who I’ve never worked with directly (like Mordaxus and Chris) and with former co-workers who aren’t exactly friends. For example, I had a great three hour lunch and walk around Rock Ridge with a fellow who I’d worked with at Zero-Knowledge, and seen maybe once since. I feel a little like Comic Book Guy, caught in a new situation, and forced to say “There’s no emoticon for what I’m feeling!”
Some of our business relationships lead to personal ones, of friendship or romance. The bright lines which once existed are gone. A business which tries to help us with all of these may end up creepy like Facebook. One which only sees one aspect of our lives may well get and give a one dimensional view of us.
I’m thinking of two folks reading this. One is saying “what’s the point?” Another is identifying this as “Adam brain spew.” Which is another way of saying that this is all over the place.
And perhaps, in a world in which we present different selves at different times, that is exactly my response to Bob.