The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'identity'
Brad Fitzpatrick, the founder of LiveJournal and architect of OpenID, has put forward his thoughts on the social graph problem — which is to say, the present state of affairs in which each social software application has its own social graph (of which user is connected to whom) which its users have to independently maintain — and how to go about aggregating these graphs into something less unwieldy:
Currently if you're a new site that needs the social graph (e.g. dopplr.com) to provide one fun & useful feature (e.g. where are your friends traveling and when?), then you face a much bigger problem then just implementing your main feature. You also have to have usernames, passwords (or hopefully you use OpenID instead), a way to invite friends, add/remove friends, and the list goes on. So generally you have to ask for email addresses too, requiring you to send out address verification emails, etc. Then lost username/password emails. etc, etc. If I had to declare the problem statement succinctly, it'd be: People are getting sick of registering and re-declaring their friends on every site., but also: Developing "Social Applications" is too much work.
Facebook's answer seems to be that the world should just all be Facebook apps. While Facebook is an amazing platform and has some amazing technology, there's a lot of hesitation in the developer / "Web 2.0" community about being slaves to Facebook, dependent on their continued goodwill, availability, future owners, not changing the rules, etc. That hesitation I think is well-founded. A centralized "owner" of the social graph is bad for the Internet.Brad has written down a set of goals for a project to open up the social graph, in a way that allows sites to interoperate gracefully. This will include a common infrastructure that manages the social graph data, within an architecture which (much like OpenID) allows anyone to operate their own servers, and prevents any one entity from owning the graph. This will have an API, which returns all equivalent nodes of a node (i.e., given an identity on one service, the owner's identities on all other services registeded), the edges in and out of a node, the aggregated friends of a node across all services, and any missing friends (i.e., any pairs of nodes connected on one service but not another).
From the user's point of view, this will allow some fairly nifty magic to happen, saving users the hassle of registering on yet another social network site and rounding up their friends:
A user should then be able to log into a social application (e.g. dopplr.com) for the first time, ideally but not necessarily with OpenID, and be presented with a dialog like: "Hey, we see from public information elsewhere that you already have 28 friends already using dopplr, shown below with rationale about why we're recommending them (what usernames they are on other sites). Which do you want to be friends with here? Or click 'select-all'."Brad acknowledges that there will be uncooperative sites, who, owning the lion's share of the social-networking sphere, don't see it in their interest to prioritise interoperating with other sites (no names are named, though I'm betting that it'll be a cold day in Hell before MySpace plays nice with something like this; after all, it may tip their users off to the existence of other sites and depress banner-ad impressions). Thus he proposes a browser add-on which implements the system on uncooperative sites, by means of screen-scraping.
What's happening with this proposal? so far, they have prototypes of the APIs, working on the data for 5 sites (LiveJournal and Vox are, not surprisingly, two of them), the start of a Firefox plug-in to drag MySpace, kicking and screaming, to the party, and the start of a website allowing users to register their points of presence in social networks; a limited beta is expected at some time in the future. There are apparently a lot of people from different organisations working on this, much as there were on the OpenID project, and a Google group has been set up for discussion of the details.
Note that this only covers social network (i.e., "x is a friend of y") data, and not the actual content (birthdays, photos, favourite movies/bands). There is another project named Move My Data, which aims to make the actual user data portable between accounts, though so far it seems to consist of a vague proposal.
Convicted child murder accomplice Maxine Carr's new identity stolen one day before she was to be released. The documents are said to give her mobile phone, passport and social security numbers, though the British government denies that they would make it easier for her to be identified. Given the level of organisation required to obtain secret documents such as these (including the possibility of a collaborator within the civil service deliberately leaving them in an unsecured car), it's not unlikely that there is a well-organised vigilante conspiracy to ensure that the "justice" denied by the British legal system will be swift. (Don't bother checking the news for it, though; if it happens, it'll be just another anonymous murder, suicide, or accident; perhaps a drug overdose or a "mugging gone wrong" is in the works?)
(Not that an uncompromised fake identity would protect anyone who maintained contact with their friends and relatives from their former life. The names and identities of Carr's parents are known, and sufficiently driven vigilantes could watch them, in shifts if needed, and follow up on anybody matching Carr's description whom they meet with. Even if she broke off contact with them, there'd be something else to get her by. The Mossad nabbed Adolf Eichmann because he neglected to change his wedding anniversary after fleeing to Argentina, and he was an actual Nazi war criminal, and not a rank amateur.)
A thought-provoking rant about the commodification of St. Patrick's Day, and the tendency of everybody from British royals to Hollywood celebrities to ordinary people wanting an excuse to get blotto to assert their newly-contrived Irishness. An Irishness which has been reduced into a "concept", a "feeling", or a sanitised, Disneyfied lifestyle package for mass consumption.
Anyone can become Irish today. You can show our Irishness by going to the right pub, having the right attitude, by ticking a box on a census form - but not by getting drunk, fighting, shouting 'Fuck the Queen', or any of the other activities you might traditionally have associated with being Irish, which are especially frowned upon by fake Irish pubs like O'Neill's (no relation).
Is plastic-shamrock cod-Irishness, as some speculated, the one acceptable way in which white people can claim a funky, rootsy tribal identity; one with enough? (via Plastic)
Anonymity is useless; your language patterns are as unique as your DNA, and words serve as a memetic sample that can be used to identify the author. Or so says Don Foster, the English Literature professor and investigator who identified the author of Clintonian roman à clef Primary Colors, helped track down the Unabomber from his writings and proved that a forgotten poem had been written by Shakespeare. Foster is the author of a new book titled Author Unknown, which (judging from the review) looks fascinating.