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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Tuesday, May 28, 2024


Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, May 20, 2005
2:02 am

Thursday afternoon, I listened to

Kim Cameron
via the ITConversations website, discussing his concept of InfoCards against the backdrop of his 18 years of experience in the Identity world. I even found his picture!

Kim’s major conjecture was that just like the directory space is inherently multi-centered — we will always have more than one repository for information – the identity world is also inherently multi-centered — Identity Management will never be centered in a single enterprise or organization. Just as multi-centered directory reality gave rise to meta directory concept, multi-centered identity reality demands a meta-identity infrastructure.

I have two favorite sound bites from the talk. I chuckled at the first: “People can have multiple identities.” Perhaps we should call that “Digital Schizophrenia.” (My term, not his.)

I enthusiastically applaud the second: “Simplest technologies win.” This is sound advice from the company that once bragged about how Windows 2000 was the most complex engineering feat in the history of mankind. I was with Oracle when Bill Gates made that statement at a Wireless Telephony conference in Europe. Larry Ellison immediately followed Bill at the speakers podium, and only as only Larry can do, discarded his prepared remarks and lambasted Microsoft for championing complexity over simplicity.

Interested in learning more about InfoCard, I did what many of you have probably already done – I Googled InfoCard. (Please note that Microsoft is

scared of Google

In ZDNet News’ article,

Microsoft revisits Passport with InfoCard
, Joris Evers aptly introduced the subject by observing that “The software leviathan has launched a preview of its next identity-management offering, and is hoping it is more successful than its last attempt in the space.”

In his article for InternetNews.com,

Microsoft Examines InfoCard Framework
, Jim Wagner stated “InfoCard is an identity meta-system that will initially incorporate everything from user names and passwords to smart cards to X.509 certificates, as well as new technologies created through the Liberty Alliance and other technology groups.”

Johannes Ernst provided a more interpretive view in his blog entry

What is Microsoft InfoCard?
He provides a sample use case and lists the protocols and standards he believe InfoCard will employ.

Scott Mace observed in his blog,

Kim Cameron’s Infocard project
, that Microsoft is making overtures towards being more open than ever before: “It’s a much more open world at Microsoft these days …
customer pressure to provide truly open standards keeps building every day.”

Mike Rowehl’s

Bitsplitter Blog
was more cynical: “Microsoft wants to play? Cool, welcome to the game, nice to have you. The game might be played a bit different than what you last remember. These days the game is about conversations, and trust is built through interaction directly with the people whom you desire to win trust from.”

As we all become more informed about InfoCard, I do have some cautions for Microsoft:

already exist in CD format.

In the Vanderbilt University Library, “all bits of information in the data library have an associated


InfoCard is available exclusively from


And InfoCards are cheap – less than

three bucks
from En-Route Travelware. What is more, you can “wear the InfoCard inside a zippered pocket.”

Remember, “Simplest technologies win.”


2 Responses to “InfoCard(s)”

    Hi Mark – Hubert Le Van Gong (tech arch in the CTO office) has a good overview of infocard technology here.

    Comment by Superpat on May 20, 2005 at 10:12 am


    Thanks for the link.


    Comment by Mark Dixon on May 20, 2005 at 12:06 pm

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