Digital Identity discussion

I’ve had the opportunity to listen to John Clippinger (Harvard Law School), Kaliya Hamlin, (IdentityWoman/evangelist for open standards in user-centric digital identity) and Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn founder/chair) discussing issues on identity on It Conversations.

A brief summary of the discussion goes like this:

As our lives increasingly straddle the physical and the virtual worlds, the management of identity becomes increasingly crucial from both a business and a social standpoint. John Clippinger, Kaliya Hamlin, and Reid Hoffman examine how online identity can foster relationships and deepen value creation. They discuss OpenID, including how America Online has chosen to adopt it, and answer questions related to such issues as anonymity and restricting information.

OpenID and this whole “open access/open source-debate” is not really an issue relevant for my phd-project. My interest on identity will be from a more socio-philosophical perspective. But the discussion was worth listening in on anyways, and I did manage to take some notes on interesting points – all worth returning to. My private ponderings are in the brackets – a few times with references, so I don’t forget!

  • New (social) networks means “new” people, since networks consists hereof
  • Privacy – anonymity – compliance are keywords when speaking of “digital identity” (A much better concept than “online identity” because the latter suggests a – in many cases false – separation between on- and offline)
  • The anonymity claim is all about having the choice – whether you exercise it or not isn’t the issue (Perhaps in some cases – when and why do we choose anonymity – is it ok for the teachers to interact with own students anonymously?)
  • Identity-management is the new buzz word (Usually management is something that needs to be learned – how do we as educators go about this?)
  • Top-down or Bottom-up identity?
  • Data security – personal and corporate control are other keywords
  • Is it possible to keep a stabile identity? (When and why – is stability always a goal? Does distributed identity necessarily mean loss of privacy?)
  • How to authenticate identity? (Usually crucial in formal education, which may be the reason why it’s so difficult for formal education to simulate otherwise)
  • From Place to Cloud – breaking away from silos (shifting metaphors to better understand new phenomena – e.g. Lakoff & Johnson)
  • OpenID – identity provider?
  • OpenID keywords are interoperability, openness, remix
  • Consumers/users aggressively expect a simplified way to navigate on the internet (Usability continues to be an important issue)
  • Social networking – micro-blogging in present tense – live stream of activities
  • If you participate in a social network people don’t care who you are, but whether you’re a good actor in that particular community, and there may be very different standards for “good acting” in different communities. (In a learning context this could be both positive and negative, if students accept learning from others than their teachers. Luckily most of them do, but in a traditional academic setting verification of sources of information is still very much at play and may collide with this …)

I forgot how pleasant (and inspirational!) it is sometimes just to be on the receiving , listening end :-)


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