FreeID.Org - First Axiom of Identity by Scott C. Lemon
|| Sunday, November 21, 2004
In the beginning, there was ... well ... what was there? This is
the first of several posts that I am going to write, that outline some
of my thinking and research into digital identity. So to get
that we humans do not have any inherent identity.
What? Are you kidding? Of course I have identity! Well ... like what?
Age? Height? Salary? Credit
Information? The key is to recognize that none of these are
inherent to you ... they are all given to you by outside
entities. All of them.
If we carefully examine the definition
of "identity" we'll see that the roots of the word is from Latin:
Etymology: Middle French identité,
from Late Latin identitat-, identitas, probably
from Latin identidem repeatedly, contraction of idem et
idem, literally, same and same
Consider the possibility that "identity" is really a community saying
that we are "the same as something else". Our height is the same
as something we call "six feet". Our age is the same as something
we call "40 years". Our salary is the same as something we call
"$150,000". Identity becomes a completely relative thing. Relative to a
community that we belong to. And identity is completely based on
1 a : sameness of essential or
generic character in different instances b : sameness
in all that constitutes the objective reality of a thing
To reinforce this, consider that all of your individual pieces of
identity - all of your attributes - only exist within the context of
the community that gave you the attribute. If you have a US
Social Security number, it means nothing in the jungles of New
Zealand. If you weigh 150 pounds., then it only means something
in a community that understands what a pound is. And my credit
history, or work history? Again, these are only valid in a
community context that understands what these are, and that knows the
that gave them to me. This is actually the basis for the "Second Axiom
What is so important about this First Axiom? It is that we
gather identity about ourselves throughout our lives. Our
"identity" actually starts before we are born, since our parents and
the process of describing us and creating the "same as" stories. (e.g.
he kicked alot, was our second, etc.) On top of that, our
identity continues to grow even after we die. Our death
certificate, the details of our funeral, and the results of our
will. We might even get into a Hall of Fame, or gain other such
tributes after death. We accumulate identity from before we are
born, throughout our lives, and even after we die. And there are
a lot of people and companies that want that accumulated
information. What is interesting is that there is no software
solution for a person to easily accumulate their identity.
Most efforts in digital identity management have taken the tack of
controlling the dissemination of our identity ... but few have had a
focus on how to accumulate our identity. When I was working on
the digitalMe project at Novell, I realized that core to digital
identity management is our own ability to accumulate our identity
information as it is given to us. Only when we have accumulated
it, can we choose who to share it with. Only when we accept that
we have no inherent identity can we build the systems to accumulate it
|| © Copyright
Scott C. Lemon.
4/3/2005; 3:05:18 AM.
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