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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Thursday, May 23, 2024

Identity Map – Relationships

Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, December 15, 2005
5:50 am

"The condition or fact of being related; connection or association."

time ago, I posted an entry
on the importance of relationships in the Identity Management field. It first
occured to me during the Burton Group Catalyst conference earlier this year
that relationships are an important part of Identity. The more I think about
the subject, perhaps relationships are the most important part. The reason we
use Identities at all is to facilitate interaction between people or between
people and institutions.

Relationships can be formal (e.g. Jack legally owns a house, Jill is an employee
of IBM) vs. informal (Jack and Jill are best friends). Relationship can be intimate
(husband and wife), or remote (Jim and Bob are distant cousins, but haven’t
met each other). Relationships can be postive (Harry and Bess have a strong
working relationship) or negative (Gus divorced Sally).

I have categorized Identity relationships into four groups: Person to Person
(P2P), Person to Institution (P2I), Person to Thing (P2T) and Person to Concept
(P2C). A few examples follow:

P2P – Person to Person


  • Parent/child (I am a parent of six children)
  • Sibling (I am sibling to two brothers and four sisters)
  • Marriage (I am married to the best wife in the whole world)


  • Friend (Phil Barney is a good friend)
  • Neighbor (the Cox family lives next door)
  • Rival (Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were basketball rivals)
  • Enemy (Mr. Hatfield and Mr. McCoy were bitter enemies)
  • Student/teacher (Mr. Ross was my English teacher)

P2I – Person to Institution


  • Employer/employee (I am an employee of Sun Microsystems)
  • Manager/employee (Joe is my boss)
  • Employer/contractor (I am a former contractor to the Brown & Bain
    law firm)
  • Co-worker (I work closely with Bill)


  • Consumer – vendor (I am a frequent customer at Fry’s Grocery)
  • Reader – news source (I read the East Valley Tribune)
  • Participant – online community (I participate in the OpenSolaris online
  • Partnership (Trent and I are partners in a business deal)


  • Church member (I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
  • Organizations member (I am a member of the Arizona Technology Council)
  • Alumni member (I am a graduate of Brigham Young University)
  • Political party (I am a somewhat disgruntled member of the Republican
  • Citizenship (I am a citizen of the United States of American)

P2T – Person to Thing


  • I own our home
  • I own a Treo
  • I don’t own a cat


  • I possess a laptop computer owned by Sun
  • I possess a copy of a library book


  • I am sitting on my chair
  • I am close to my computer
  • I live a long way from Mongolia

P2C – Person to Concept


  • I understand digital arithmetic
  • I don’t understand quantum physics
  • I am studying the Mongolian language

Value system

  • I believe in revealed religion
  • I love freedom
  • I admire integrity
  • I abhore dishonesty

Intellectual property

  • I created a plan
  • I invented a process
  • I own a copyright

In addition to these categories, Opinions are frequently
used to describe the relationship between a person and another entity:

  • I enjoy Chinese food
  • I dislike ranch dressing
  • I like country music
  • I favor limited federal government
  • I love my wife and kids
  • I respect my employer
  • I loathe frivolous lawsuits

I’m sure there are many other ways to describe relationships, but it has been
an interesting experience thinking through this process. And just think – my
relationship to you is at least blog creator to blog reader. 🙂

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