Monday, February 28, 2005, 10:50 PM


Noted. Somehow, I missed the chatter about Kim Cameron's work at Microsoft on InfoCards:

o Microsoft's Kim Cameron outlines Infocard, new federated identity initiative, Alex Barnett
o Who Am I? Who Are You?, Marcus Lasance
o Kim Cameron's Infocard project, Scott Mace
o ITConversations with Kim Cameron, Scott Mace
o Introducing the "Longhorn" Identity System [PowerPoint]. Stuart Kwan, Microsoft [Updated: March 3; found via Johannes Ernst's blog.]

These InfoCards, on the surface, seems to me similar to Light-weight IDentity (LID).

Updated (March 30 & 31, 2005):
o Phil Becker, Microsoft Leaks Identity - Is Info Cards a Good Thing? (
o, Microsoft Info-Cards = CMI? (
o Stefan Brands, Microsoft info-cards to use blind signatures? (
o Ina Fried, Longhorn could be tough sell for Microsoft (
o Dick Hardt, Info-card rumors (
o Eric Norlin, Time to get Personal (literally) (
o Red Herring, Microsoft's security card (
o Jim Wagner, Microsoft Said to Have New Security Plans (

Sunday, February 27, 2005, 8:13 PM

The Digital Subsumes the Physical

Want one more reason why strong digital identity is important?

Over the last few decades, an increasing number of our physical/analog devices are becoming digital. From entertainment (LPs to CDs, 8mm to DVDs), to mail (letters to email/SMS), to markets (NYSE to NASDAQ), to photos (Kodak to Sony), to contracts (signatures to signed hashes).

Guess what's also going over to the digital? The lock! The thing that prevents people from just walking into our homes and offices (especially offices: see Computer, physical security expected to merge) is now becoming a digital thing. The thing that prevents thieves from driving away with your car is now digital. There's even a term for stealing codes for digital locks of cars -- code-grabbing. (See Pilot Commandeers Car Locks).

Our phsical security is now dependent on digital identities -- not very strong ones at that. How soon will the lack of strong digital identities in the digital domain become a publicly recognized physical safety risk issue (like identity theft is a recognized financial safety risk issue)?

Saturday, February 26, 2005, 7:17 PM

User Identifiers

Noted. Stefan Brands has written about the nature of user identification. From his article A primer on user identification - Part 1 of 4:

In order to fully appreciate how digital identity management relates to privacy and security, especially in federated contexts, it is essential to analyze one of the core building blocks of any identity management architecture: user identifiers. ...

An identifier is a piece of information that names or indicates a person, a device, a process, a resource, or any other type of entity. User identifiers are identifiers for use by individuals or groups of individuals. They may be presented verbally, on paper, on plastic cards, by user-held computerized devices, or in any other appropriate manner. Electronic user identifiers are electronically presented over data communication channels by user-held chip-based devices. ...

The four part essay can be found in:
  • Part 1:
  • Part 2:
  • Part 3:
  • Part 4: [Updated: Feb 28]
  • Monday, February 14, 2005, 4:41 AM

    Laws, Axioms, and Now, Design Principles

    Noted. Stefan Brands has just joined in the "fray" with Design Principles of Identity in The First Design Principle of Identity ( The first installment is:
    FIRST DESIGN PRINCIPLE: The technical architecture of an identity system should minimize the changes it causes to the legacy trust landscape among all system participants.
    Might seem obvious, but this principle rules out the many existing identity systems. This is why something conceptually as simple as Single Sign-On is still a struggle for most companies -- most SSO systems (especially Web SSO systems) were not designed with Brands' first design principle.

    This is going to get interesting (as if it were not already). Kim Cameron Started with his Laws of Identity. Then, Scott Lemon added Axioms of Identity.

    I do hope we can converge to two sets of "things": (1) axioms/laws, and, (2) design principles. Any volunteers to start doing that? BTW, how does the blog world drive to convergence on ideas?

    Update (March 11, 2005):
    I missed Luke Razzell 's Generative Principles of Identity (
    1. People must be able to determine who may do what with which of the data attributable to them (their "digital possessions").

    2. People must be able to nominate proxies to negotiate and manage interactions with their digital possessions by others.

    3. People must only be able to interact with the digital possessions of other people according to those others' wishes with regards to Principles 1 and 2.

    Saturday, February 12, 2005, 10:52 PM

    The Symmetry Principle

    Extrapolating from my thoughts in Elegance, Symmetry and Cost, I'm converging on the power of symmetry as an architectural design principle.

    The purpose of most software products is to make the asymmetric symmetric.

    For example, we saw how, in the early 90's, 4GL tools provided an insulation to all the different dataservers (Oracle, Ingres, Informix, Sybase, Gupta, etc.). 4GL tools provided a symmetric way of designing applications for all the different types of dataservers with different interfaces (asymmetry).

    More recently, without the browser/HTTP/HTML technology, access to information on the internet will be on a one-by-one basis, asymmetrically. Each access would be trough a different client, via a different protocol. The browsers with HTTP/HTML provided a standard way (symmetric) to access all that information.

    Google is about giving consumers one interface (symmetric) to all the millions of different interfaces provided by the websites on the net... actually the data in those websites.

    Three ways of making something symmetric:
    (1) define standards that everyone conforms to (e.g. HTTP, HTML, SSL, etc.),
    (2) manually integrate through some gateway/agent layer, and,
    (3) automate integration (i.e. build software that adapts itself to different interfaces).

    If you are very lucky, you'll be in a time and place in history where you can define standards. Most of the time, however, even if you're a government, you'll have a hard time defining standards. Which means software vendors have to do either (2) or (3). In any case, following standards (if they exist) is an entry fee to play, and is insufficient to differentiate or win.

    So what's this got to do with digital identities?

    Justin J. Taylor (of Novell) in The Business Case for Identity Driven Computing [pdf] talked about how "all of these architectures and concepts are being designed, built and deployed for one reason: to bring order to the chaos of business." ... i.e. to bring symmetry to a world of digital identities. And you will notice that identity management vendors are pursuing (1), (2), or (3).

    Is this observation so basic to the point of being unhelpful? I believe that the relevance of this perspective is that it helps vendors and IT department understand their strategy in addressing the identity management challenge: are they trying to set standards (e.g. using SAML), manually integrate (e.g. Web SSO), or automating integration (e.g. ESSO), or a combination thereof?

    Elegance, Symmetry and Cost (

    Wednesday, February 09, 2005, 7:28 AM

    Kim's Seventh "Law" of Identity?

    One quick first reaction to Kim Cameron's recently posted Seventh "Law" of Identity ( -- it's too long!

    7. Harmonious Contextual Autonomy: The unifying identity metasystem MUST facilitate negotiation between relying party and user of the specific identity and its associated encoding such that the unifying system presents a harmonious technical and human interface while permitting the autonomy of identity in different contexts.


    Kim: You need to cut the number of words in half. It's a 41 word sentence!

    This might seem a frivolous reaction, but it is my experience that fundamental stuff can be expressed simply. If it is difficult to express simply, then it is probably not fundamental ... and thus, shouldn't be a "law" or a principle. It should be broken down to it's component ideas.

    I read #7 several times, and I still am having problems trying to understand it. I suspect the problem is not with the language but with the complexity of the idea.

    Update (February 10, 2005):
    Hey, this blogging thing works ... people respond... Kim's is in P. T. Ong exhausted by 7th Law ( and The Seventh Law of Identity -- Overnamed (

    Tuesday, February 08, 2005, 7:32 AM

    Elegance, Symmetry and Cost

    It seems that something that is more elegant, more symmetric would cost more -- we pay for elegance in the design of everyday products. However, I've observed that when it comes to systems, the opposite is true -- we pay a price in the long run when we build systems that are inelegant and asymmetric.

    The architecture of digital identity is an example of this observation.

    Because there has not been a standard in authentication/directory systems, when we try to unify an enterprise's identity systems (in projects such as SSO, directory consolidation, PKI), each integration point is unique -- and you cannot abstract this uniqueness by, for example, automating the integration. Asymmetric architecture. This helps to explain why so many digital identity projects end up being huge undertakings. Huge costs.

    I believe elegance and symmetry are prerequisite characteristics for a successful digital identity architecture are.

    The Symmetry Principle (

    Saturday, February 05, 2005, 1:08 AM

    Identity Axioms

    Noted. I'm a bit behind on my reading, but I just went through Scott Lemon's Axioms of Identity -- basic truths about the character of identity. Here they are reproduced for convenience:
    The First Axiom of Identity:
    We humans do not have any inherent identity.

    The Second Axiom of Identity:
    Identity does not exist outside the context of a community.

    The Third Axiom of Identity:
    Identity is exchanged in transactions that occur within a context of trust and authentication.

    The Fourth Axiom of Identity:
    For an effective community to exist there must be verified agreement, which requires a minimum of three community members.
    One comment from me (so far): the second axiom is more a corollary of the first axiom, than a stand-alone axiom. But that's nitpicking.

  • Scott Lemon's Axioms of Identity (
  • The First Axiom of Identity (
  • The Second Axiom of Identity (
  • The Third Axiom of Identity (
  • The Fourth Axiom of Identity (
  • Thursday, February 03, 2005, 2:33 AM

    Information Dogma

    Noted. Just read an incisive article that Tim Grayson wrote on Digital Identity Religion and Information Dogma. It helps me understand why I'm having problems figuring the opposing demands of corporate identity management requirements compared to personal identity management requirements. For example, should identity agents audit access patterns? -- depends on if you're looking at it from the corporate or the personal perspective.

    When you enter into a transaction with a third party, how much information do they retain about you? At one end of the spectrum is a Libertarian perspective that specify minimum information is retained by the third party. At the other end of the spectrum is a Fascist view which says that individuals don't own information -- whenever information is shared (or can be obtained), the third party can store and use it in the future. Where any one person ends up on the spectrum is effectively where their information dogma is.

    Grayson encourages us to -- when we choose our identity religion (centralized Big Brother directories, federation, closed systems) -- be aware of our information dogma that drives it.

    Good stuff.

    Tim Grayson, Digital Identity Religion and Information Dogma (
    Jamie Lewis, Ends and Means: Identity in Two Worlds (
    Andre Durand, Three Tiers of Identity (
    Doc Searls, Making Mydentity (

    Update (February 13, 2005):
    I'm glad Jamie Lewis thought more about the "ends and means" issue in Revisiting "Ends and Means". His posting prompted me to think just a little bit more and conclude that it is up to the technology providers in identity management to build technology to support the range of information dogma there will be in the market place. It is not necessarily our place to define how the rest of the world ought to feel about privay and information sharing, but rather to help the world understand the options, and to support the different entities with their different preferences. The successful technical identity system of the future will be able to navigate the pletora of different choices networked entities would prefer.