This is me – now what was the question?
I note that the call for papers for the TERENA Networking Conference (TNC) 2010 is now out. Given that the themes focus (in part) on network lifestyle and identity issues I wondered about putting in something based on Dave White's vistors vs residents work (yeah, that again!). Something like the following:
The Web used to be seen as a tool to get various jobs done – booking a holiday, finding a train time, reading email, catching up on lecture notes, checking a bank account, and so on. The people using such tools adopted a largely visitor mentality, - they fired up their Web browser, undertook a task of some kind, and left. Little or no trace was left.
Over the past few years the Web has changed significantly. It is now a social space, as much a part of people's lives as going down the pub, going to work, or turning up for lectures. As a result, many people are now increasingly adopting a resident mentality – cohabiting a social networked environment with others and intentionally leaving a permanent record of their activities in that space.
In a world of visitors, the principle reason for asserting identity (“this is me”) is so that the particular tool being used can determine what an individual's access rights are. But in a world of residents, that is only part of the story. They are more likely to assert their identity as part of a “this is who I am”, this is what I’ve done”, this is who I know” transaction with other people in their social space.
The functional requirements of the identity infrastructure are therefore very different for residents than they used to be for visitors. SAML is geared to meeting the needs of visitors and the tools they wish to access. OpenID caters much more to a ‘resident’ way of thinking.
If we believe that the Web is changing us (as it certainly is), and particularly if we believe that the Web is changing learning and research, then we have to be prepared to change with it and adopt technologies that assist in that change.
Does that resonate with people? I'd be interested in your thoughts.