Identity2.0 Illusion of Control

April 2, 2006

Seeing and hearing Dick Hardt's "600-mouse-clicks in 12 minutes" presentation is a must: it is the most formidable elevator pitch I have ever seen.

So what's Identity 2.0? Is it indeed a radically different approach to identity as its suffix suggests, or is it the same old stuff rebranded in the spirit of the current Zeitgeist?

If you ask Dick Hardt he will tell you two things:

1. Identity 2.0 is all about empowering the user. A user-centric model in which the user defines and controls his/her Identity.

2. What is Identity? Identity is "The collective aspect of the set of characteristics by which a thing is definitively recognizable or known". In this context, Hardt talks much about Personas (assertions about MY Identity), as well as about Reputation – assertions that others are making about (aspects of) who I am. An example for that would be the eBAY reputation of a seller.

I think the two points mentioned are problematic.

First is the illusion of control. The User is not in a real control of what her Identity is. The different Identity Providers – Government, Universities, Work places and so forth – provide assertions about me that I cannot control nor alter. But at least, these are Objective and factual assertions. With Reputations, though, we're entering the realm of the subjective, with assertions that might be biased, inaccurate and sometimes false. Objective or Subjective – it does not really change the fact that People are not in control of their Public Identity!Differently put, Identity 2.0 is probably about controlling the How (distribution, interaction etc.), rather than controlling the What (Who am I).

This leads me to the second problem, which relates to implicit assertions. This kind of assertions is not an explicit part of the Identity2.0 discussion. I am referring here to what can be induced from the data and the meta-data (clickstreams, gestures, attention or whatever) the user is generating inside the various service providers. My mails at Gmail, my docs at Writely, my photos at Flickr and so forth, say a lot of things about ME and are, therefore, essential components of MY Identity. If Identity 2.0 is all about giving ME the ability to control MY Identity, then Data and Meta-Data MUST be part of the design goals of Identity 2.0, for unlike Personas and Reputation – Data and Meta-Data are controllable. Unfortunately,though, I couldn't find any trace to these critical aspects of Identity in the 7 laws of Identity, nor in the 14 design goals of Identity 2.0.

Dick Hardt – See and listen – it's only 16 minutes.



See and Listen: Identity 2.0, OSCON 2005

Just Listen: Dick Hardt – Identity 2.0

Original Podlink: IT Conversations, Dick Hardt, Identity 2.0


Dick Hardt: Identity=Reputation

Dick Hardt: Identity 2.0 Design Goals

Kim Cameon: The Seven Laws of Identity

technorati1.jpg Technorati Identity 2.0, Technorati the Podlink


The Long Tail of the Power Law

March 10, 2006


Finally we, the users of Userland, have found our home, our place. It’s somewhere on the Long Tail of the power law distribution. The distribution qualified as power law presents the following pattern: small number of HUGE hubs with an endless other nodes connected to them. That’s how most complex, organic systems are built and that’s also the structure of the soon to be organic Internet: some relatively few sites are those which are most linked to (as demonstrated by A.L. Barabasi, Linked).

hubs in a scale-free network.gif

Traditionally the Long Tail has been ignored. Focusing on the pareto, the 80%-20%, has been the rule. If 20% of my customers are responsible for 80% of my revenues – that’s where I’m going to spend my attention. That was true in the Brick and Mortar days – the time of no access or a highly limited one to alternatives, when one was entirely dependant on “what’s in stores today”.

But nowadays, the ubiquitous broadband Internet provides us with an ACCESS to an endless number of possibilities. The Long Tail of the power law can finally express itself and name its heroes. More importantly, the Long Tail can be monetized.

What Chris Anderson, the Editor-in-Chief of Wired magazine, showed in his research was that:

1. When ACCESS exists, the Long Tail of the past is no longer a Long Tail. Money – great deal of money – can be done by monetizing the Long Tail. From an economical perspective it is no longer a pareto, 80-20, but rather 50-50: revenues are almost evenly distributed between Hubs and Long Tail (endless nodes).

2. The Long Tail itself has its own power law distribution – it is an endless recursion. So if the traditional news providers – NYT, Le Monde, Der Spiegel etc. are the News Hubs of the World and the Blogosphere, on its 30 something million blogs is its Long Tail, this doesn’t imply that the Blogosphere has random distribution of popularity. Technorati’s Top 100 are the Huge Hubs of the Blogosphere. The rest of the blogs are this 100 Long Tail. Anderson provides one more statistic – an encouraging one: any dot on the Long Tail is approached if there’s a way to access it. Translation: any blog (pot) on the blogosphere will find its reader (cover), with a viable opportunity to become, one day, a mega-pot-hub on its own.

3. Finally, web2.0 is the technology of the Long Tail. Google, Amazon and eBay have all made their money by creating a formidable infrastructure that digs into the Long Tail and accumulates the insignificant cents into multi-billions of dollars.


podcastIcon1.gif Chris Anderson: Economics of the Long Tail 00:38:30, 17.6 mb, March 17th, 2005

Original Podlink: Chris Anderson: Economics of the Long Tail


Chris Anderson’s article on the Long Tail

Chris Anderson’s Blog: The Long Tail

technorati1.jpg Technorati the Long Tail, Technorati the Podlink

“One Sheet, Only Foldings, No Cuts” – The Origami Behind Microsoft’s Ultramobile 2007 Buzz

February 28, 2006


The Blogosphere is excited about Microsoft’s Origami Project, which promises full-blown functionality with spatial cost-efficiency to the future Ultramobile 2007 gadget.

Microsoft will reveal “something” about this project on March 2nd, which leaves you with a two-days catch-up on what the heck is Origami and how it is related to gadgets. Fortunately, Dr. Robert Lang, who is “one of the foremost origami artists and theorists in the world”, gave an excellent 16 minutes introduction on Origami at OSCON 2005.

With “One Sheet, Only Foldings, No Cuts” as the leitmotif, Dr. Lang explains what Origami is and how it has evolved from a paper folding art into an applied science. One of the amazing origami-designed projects is the EyeGlass (see picture): “a space Telescope with some 100-meter lens in the form of a thin membrane. The origami-folded lens fit into a small rocket in such a way that the lens can be unfolded in space without suffering from any permanent marks or creases”.

Microsoft’s Origami project is, undoubtedly, an interesting approach to solving the handheld device limitations.

lang.jpgPrototype Telescope

Technopod Rating: 9
podcastIcon1.gif Robert Lang: Computational Origami 00:16:07, 7.4 mb, Aug, 4th, 2005

Original Podlink: Robert Lang, Origami Artist and Theorist: Computational Origami


Robert J. Lang – Origami
technorati1.jpg Technorati Origami Project, Technorati the Podlink

The Power of Default in the Land of Endless Possibilites (A Catch-22 Stewpod)

February 27, 2006


This one is a “Catch-22 Stewpod”. Stewpod – because I gathered here, under a single theme, two unrelated podcasts; Catch-22 – well, you will have to keep on reading.

If you take any subject in life you would normally find yourself with many possibilities to pick from. Here are some technological examples: RSS feeds? – Feedburner‘s official numbers are ~250K; Blogs? Technorati‘s official is 27M; Linux Distros? Distrowatch‘s is 370~ ; Thinking about implementing SOA? Well, think again – there are so many different interpretations to what’s SOA; Forced to implement SOA with IBM? Hmm, there are 13 different products under the IBM’ SOA umbrella; which one do you need, or maybe do you need them all?

The point is clear – there are always too many possibilities, options and choices. But unlike the conceptual illusion that the more options one has, the more “free” (as in freedom), rich and significant his/her life would be, the lecture of Prof. Barry Schwartz – “Less is More”, demonstrates that the opposite is actually true: endless possibilities mean endless angst. Too many possibilities could well lead to paralyzation, stress and despair. Constraining the number of alternatives is, therefore, an existential necessity. Barry Schwartz suggests having a predefined default whenever possible.

Whoever used any RSS Reader knows they are coming with a predefined subscription on some selected, highly popular feeds. That’s a default. In the Enterprise world, the default’s equivalent might be a Technical Reference Model (or Manual) listing all the vendors, products and technologies authorized for use; or, as it’s usually the case, IBM is the de-facto default for practically anything.

The “Default” as a mean to regain happiness in a re-constrained world raises some evident moral questions (i.e. socio-economic and political :)), such as who’s responsible for setting the default value, for the “power of default” and its economic gains are invaluable.

Have a look, for instance, at the following Sys-Con SOA Awards. There are 21 categories related to SOA, and IBM, though never a winner, is a runner-up in 20 out of 21 categories! I would argue that this is an amazing demonstration of the power of default.

Another well known demonstration of the Default’s Power is Microsoft, with IE, Media Player, shipped as part of their operating system.

So who’s setting the default? In progressive Enterprises I assume that the Enterprise Architecture Office is in charge of the defaults. But in most Enterprises, it’s undoubtedly fear that determines which vendor gets this invaluable label. And here IBM plays, again, a major role, for “No one gets fired for buying IBM”. This axiom is a late adaptation of Keynes‘ famous remark: “It is better to fail conventionally, than to succeed unconventionally” (as quoted by James Surowieki, the other half of this stewpod). Yet, conventional failures might lead to disastrous outcomes (and see Tristan Yates: How IBM Conned Our IT Execs Out Of Millions, for an example).

Unlike the Enterprise, in the Web2.0 sphere there’s no fear, and out there the default is determined by the people’s attention. Technorati Rank,’ popular, digg etc. are all manifestations of the public attention. The public elects its defaults.

This leads us to the second lecture by James Surowieki – “Independent Individuals and Wise Crowds”. Humans are not ants, maintain Surowieki, and “the wisdom of crowds” is nothing but a myth. Too often the crowd is wrong and less intelligent than a single individual. Surowieki gives many amusing and interesting examples, as well as one practical advice on how to increase one’s independence in the face of the Web2.0 herd: keep your (social, intellectual, commercial, computational) ties loose. In other words – increase your options, possibilities and choices! “Inject randomness”, concludes Surowieki (Oy! Do I hear Grazing Lists?).


On the Power of Default

Linked: The New Science of Networks, Albert-Laszlo Barabasi

Web2.0 Herd Criticism

Andrew Keen: Web 2.0 Is Reminiscent Of Marx

Enterprise Defaults and Pressure

Muli Koppel: Pressure (The first article in the Pressure trilogy)


Technopod Rating: 9
podcastIcon1.gif Barry Schwartz – Less is More

Original Podlink: Barry Schwartz – Less is More

James Surowieki.jpg

Technopod Rating: 9
podcastIcon1.gif James Surowieki – Independent Individuals and Wise Crowds

Original Podlink: James Surowieki – Independent Individuals and Wise Crowds

technorati1.jpgTechnorati Wisdom of Crowds, Technorati Less is More Podlink ,Technorati the Wisdom Podlink

Scripting and the Real-Time Enterprise – Scott Mace and Peter Yared

February 23, 2006


The social network of “scripting” (Ousterhout, Dave Winer, ScriptingNews, Open Source, Wikipedia, Tagging, Ruby, LAMP…) has a compelling, seductive power in an era where there’s no Time, as it offers means for rapid creation and assimilation of ideas (through the Blogosphere), standards (micro-formats), tools (open source) and products (mash-ups). And while not everyone of us is a code scripter, many of us are content-taggers, which is an equivalent to “Ontology-scripting”. So we’re scripters.

Yet, when it comes to the Real-Time Enterprise, a conflict emerges between the Quicky Culture of coding and the Managerial Culture of operating the code (as manifested in two similar design-principles: “Design for Operations” and “Design for Failures”). Scripts and Enterprise-Grade Products & Services are, therefore, considered antipodes.

ActiveGrid, an Enterprise-Grade scripting IDE and run-time environment, aspires at mitigating the gap between these two cultures. Without judging the quality of ActiveGrid development and runtime environment, nor its positioning compared to roaring ROR, I think the behind-the-scenes philosophy of this environment, as presented by ActiveGrid’s CEO, Peter Yared, is fascinating.

Scott Mace, Opening Move’s host, leads brilliantly Yared in the garden of today’s memes, J2EE and .NET vs. scripting, ActiveGrid vs. Vista, scale-out through utility computing; dynamic, ad-hoc, distributed, transaction-level policy, logging & auditing; the reality of 2PC (two-phase commit) in J2EE AS; freedom of languages’ choice on the LAMP stack vs. Java’s write one, run anywhere; and much, much more!


Technopod Rating: 9
podcastIcon1.gif Scripting and the Real-Time Enterprise 59:07, 27.1 mb, recorded Apr 20th, 2005

Original Podlink: Opening Move with Peter Yared


John K. Ousterhout – Scripting: Higher Level Programming for the 21st Century

activegrid_home_logo.gif ActiveGrid

technorati1.jpg Technorati ActiveGrid, Technorati the Podlink

Winds of War – Om and Niall on the Two-Tiers Internet

February 21, 2006

“We’re witnessing the beginnings of a titanic clash between the internet and the telecommunications industry.” (Alec Saunders, Voice 2.0: A Manifesto for the Future).

In the last couple of months AT&T and Verizon started a tactical, low-intensity combat against the Internet giants. Some quotations to get you into the right mood:

AT&T CEO Edward Whitacre Jr.:

“What [Google, Vonage, and others] would like to do is to use my pipes free. But I ain’t going to let them do that”.

“Companies such as Skype should pay for the portion of the carriers’ networks that they use”.

Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg:

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch on the Internet. Providers of bandwidth-intensive Internet applications, including Google and Microsoft, should “share the cost” of operating broadband networks”.

This, of course, raised a great deal of tumult among the IFF (Internet Freedom Fighters :)), who abhorred these attempts to profane the sacred network neutrality. Actually, rumors claim Google is building a private, global, network infrastructure to make sure their services will remain neutral (i.e. not under-prioritized).

In this podcast, Om Malik and Niall Kennedy provide a simple and amiable introduction to this tactical, low-intensity combat, usually referred to as the “Two-Tiers Internet”. And if Om’s right, web2.0 startups might be affected as well.


Technopod Rating: 8
podcastIcon1.gif Winds of War 23:14, 10.8 mb, Dec 28th, 2005

Original Podlink: Towards a two-tier Internet

technorati1.jpg Technorati Two-Tiers Internet, Technorati the Podlink

Liaisons Dangereuses – On Grazing Lists and Dynamic Meta-Feeds with Adam Green and Danny Ayers

February 21, 2006

It appears that long-lasting relationships are not exactly a cherished virtue in our Technological era: SOA & Grid provide a framework for mashed-up quickies with software and hardware resources, and recently Grazing Lists have been promoted as way for having uncommitted, Darwinian relationships with the RSSed Information river. Briefly, it’s the time of the dynamic OPML (or feed-of-feeds; meta-feed).

Thanks to Alex Barnett, I had an interesting time listening to Danny Ayers, a British and an avid Ontologist, who’s been visibly (!) shifting uneasily in his chair whenever Adam Green, the American Darwinian :), enthusiastically mentioned OPML and the really amazing things he’s been doing with it (for instance, an “Information TV”).

So in this podcast you’d get a thesis (Adam G.): OPML is simple and we need simple things to advance; an anti-thesis (Danny A.): Only the semantic web can express the richness of the multiple layers embedded in the Information River, and therefore semweb standards should be used (for representation and retrieval). And as both are Gentlemen, they agreed on a synthesis: OPML is temporary, “for a start”, and “until…”, while RDF is a “Real” standard that, one day, will shed its grace upon the River.

I don’t understand how Danny bought into this argument; after all, nothing is more permanent than “Temporary”.


Technopod Rating: 8
podcastIcon1.gif Liaisons Dangereuses

Original Podlink: Reading Lists (OPML) podcast: Danny Ayers and Adam Green


Next steps in RSS, Reading Lists

Feed Grazers are in the wild

Some one has to say it: OPML is a really, really crappy format. Really crappy.

The Evolution of Information Grazing

technorati1.jpg Technorati Feed Grazing, Technorati the Podlink

Food for thought from Amazon CTO Werner Vogels

February 20, 2006

Another Ganger, Mike Vizard, recently joined the podosphere under the auspice of ACM Queue. In this ACM Queuecast, Vizard talks to Werner Vogels, Amazon CTO, who really surprised me (I am talking as an ex Data Center manager in a mobile operator).

When it comes to Information Technologies, every service at Amazon is a micro-cosmos. A dedicated group of application developers receives total, end-to-end, life-cycle responsibility over the service. This Micro-Cosmos is autonomous, or as Vogels put it: they can develop the service with whatever software development methodology and with whatever technology and tools they see fit – as long as they deliver on time and make sure, constantly, that the service meets its SLA.

This total responsibility leads to an extreme version of the “Not Invented Here Syndrom”. Amazon is not relying on any 3rd party vendor to guarantee its availability, data consistency etc. If a service is designed for no-data-loss, then the application is programmed to guarantee that. If you thought there would be a delegation here to some Enterprise Storage functionality, like Raid, BCV, Snapshots – well, you were wrong.

Some more goodies:

– The design is always paranoiac and pessimistic, i.e. design for failures.

– Resource Sharing? Not in Amazon. Any Service is human, software and hardware self-contained; a total encapsulation.

What about Web Services, Grid Computing, Virtual Machines? Well, I guess you should pick it yourself by listening to the podcast 🙂


Technopod Rating: 9

podcastIcon.gif Werner Vogels, Amazon CTO, ACMQueuecasts 22:40, 20.7 mb, Jan 23rd, 2006

Original Podlink: Discipline and Focus

technorati.jpg Werner Vogels, Technorati the Podlink


February 20, 2006


Robert Scoble, Microsoft’s Blogstreamer (and see also Robert Scoble has a twin! :)) , chaired a session on Information Overload in BloggerCon III, an annual conference organized by Dave Winer, with the sub-motto of “A users-only conference” (aka, Unconference) – vendors are kindly requested to remain silent (you got to admit it’s refreshing. And when one of the vendors tried to sneak a word, he had to face ranting “take no prisoners” Winer who stopped him at once).

In this Overload session we can listen to many requirements evolving around RSS readers, aggregators and filters. Users want their content to be filtered geographically; based on their social networks; based on authority – to give just a few examples. And so it goes on and on – Interesting.

But what I liked more was the between-the-lines of this session.

Information Consumers: Addicts (like Scoble, who’s subscribed to more than 1000 feeds) vs. the controlled, i.e. those who open their RSS reader after dinner, scan briefly the bolded headers (indication of new stuff) and go on with their other (!) business.

Web2.0 startups: There’s an endless list of requirements for the RSS-related tools, which means there’s a place for many more startups. Just a thought I had after so many ideas I threw away because there were “already” five companies doing similar things.

Meta-Data: Filters, aggregators, feeds, and reading lists – are all meta-data organizing this endless river of Information, enabled through RSS. Meta-Data tends to organize itself in networked graphs. Efficiently storing and retrieving graphs that points to this endless river is something of a challenge (and listen to Adam Bosworth on that).


Technopod Rating: 8

podcastIcon.gif Overload 01:15:16, 34.5 mb, Nov 6th, 2004

Original Podlink: Overload, Robert Scoble, session leader, Bloggercon III

technorati.jpg Technorati Overload Bloggercon, Technorati the Podlink

Dave Winer – Behind the Mic

February 19, 2006


Dave Winer deserves respect. I might be suffering from Scripting News blitzing (and I therefore unsubscribed; tech.memeorandum will dig out Winer’s good stories anyway), yet I think we owe this man a lot – if I’m reading tech history properly. For Dave Winer is, in a way, Tim-Berners Lee successor. While TBL created this World Wide Platform for storing Information, DW “let this Info go”. Being the creator of RSS, and/or member of the teams that created the different RSS versions, DW could well be named the Liberator of the World Wide Information, liberation which gave birth to the interactive web 2.0.

After this intro, I should set your expectations right away: Dave Winer is not as philosophical as TBL, nor as visionary as Tim O’Reilly… 🙂 He is, in a way, a symbol of simplicity: in his tools, in his standards, in his posts and in his thoughts. He’s the K.I.S.S. man, and that’s what’s so remarkable.

Final note: Winer was among the co-authors of the early SOAP, but as things have become too complex he left. Yet, here’s a surprise: Winer never meant SOAP to become what it is today. Application integration? Business Transactions? Not at all. For Winer, SOAP was meant to be an easier standard for… publishing content over the web.

p.s. Winer is behind many things, not just RSS.


Technopod Rating: 9

podcastIcon.gif Dave Winer 01:09:05, 31.6 mb, Oct 27th, 2004

Original Podlink: Dave Winer – Behind the Mic


RSS History (as told by no other than… Dave Winer) 🙂

Wikipedia: Dave Winer

Scripting News

technorati.jpg Technorati Dave Winer, Technorati the Podlink