Sxip, Identity 2.0 – The Way of Knowing Who We Are

A friend of mine sent this on to me today. I’m impressed on multiple levels.

IDENTITY 2.0 Keynote at OSCON (Open Source Convention) 2005.

Dick Hardt, founder and CEO of Sxip Inc.


Upfront, the presentations skills of Hardt were excellent. I think we have something to learn from his ability to craft a talk with interactivity, an appropriate pace, imagery, the balance of assumed knowledge base, and humor. For a 15min. talk, I felt engaged the entire time. And I don’t even really know what “Open-Source” is (so, I “Wikipedia’d” it.) [1]

Mostly I was impressed with the content of the talk, believing that there are “parable-esque” parallels that we could draw between Web identity, and real/personal identity.

One. The verification of identity is matched against a trusted source. For personal interactions and transactions, that would be a Drivers License, or Passport. For online interaction, the trusted source is a “credentials directory,” some location that has a securely verified set of data that can be matched with a present set during a given transaction. Again, in light of this being a bit of an analogy, it seems that our personal identities must be matched up against a trusted source, some credentialed directory that is informed by us, but ultimately outside of us. While much could be written and expanded upon even here, I suggest that this is much what faith in God is all about. Faith, theology, and all the work that goes into the metaphysical disciplines is the work, essentially, of understanding better the “credentials directory,” what people of faith believe to be the ultimate of verified sets.

Two, we actually have a choice as to what ID to show in various places, and to various people. Site centric identity is much like our environmental identity. This principle is a double-edged sword. This could prove to be of great value as we carefully navigate the evil places in the world that could seek to do us harm. Having multiple levels and versions of our ID could protect and safeguard us from possible harm. However, (and here’s the obvious), we could also play-act our way through life, setting before people false fronts and manipulated identities for the sake of personal gain and aggrandizement. Regardless, I find it fascinating that this reality exists. And if our multiple ID’s are true in the tech-world, how much more are they most certainly are true in the living and breathing world. May we be wise in how we navigate these ID waters.

Third, and perhaps most fascinating was his point that my identity is not just what I say about me, but also what others say about me. While many would balk at this statement for the value of “who cares what others think,” the tension here is that all of us actually do care what others think. It’s why we do all that we do around our behaviors and cultures. Again, much could be written. For this post, I simply want to highlight, that without the opinion and standards of others perspectives, and even their identities, we would not be able to have a sense of our personal identity. It is contrast that enlightens. I also add that when we take care of our communities, and the people around us, we really are also caring for ourselves, and the who of “me” as well as the who of “them.” And, vice-versa.

In the quest to know who we are (a key component of our worldview), may we take into consideration these analogous principles from our evolving technology, specifically Identity 2.0. And again, as McLuhan has taught us, technology is an extension of humanity. May we never be so remiss as to do well in clarifying technological ID at the expense of our human ID.

[1] Open source is a development methodology, which offers practical accessibility to a product’s source (goods and knowledge); the term open source gained popularity with the rise of the Internet, which provided access to diverse production models, communication paths, and interactive communities. The open source model of operation and decision making allows concurrent input of different agendas, approaches and priorities, and differs from the more closed, centralized models of development. [2] The principles and practices are commonly applied to the development of source code for software that is made available for public collaboration, and it is usually released as open-source software.

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