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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Unique Identity

Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, August 12, 2005
7:00 am

I was pondering the subject of Unique Identity the other day, I remembered a
story my dad used to tell.

An old farmer couldn’t tell his two horses apart, so he trimmed the mane short
on one of them. That worked until the mane grew back. So he cut one horse’s
tail short. That worked until the tail grew back. Finally, he measured both
horses, and found that the black horse was two inches taller than the white

"Stupid farmer," I thought in derision — until I realized the farmer
was blind.

What did I learn? Attributes we use to uniquely identify horses – or people
– should be sufficient to tell them apart, durable
enough to be consistent over time and measureable
with the tools at hand.

p.s. A man once told me Richfield,
, where I attended high school, was a Unique town. He then went on
to explain how "Unique" came from two Latin terms – "Uno,"
meaning One, and "Equis," meaning Horse.


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