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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Thursday, October 29, 2020
 

Eliminating Gossipy Cousin Mabel – Metaphorically Speaking, of Course

Identity
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, June 13, 2008
2:03 am

As I was writing yesterday’s post about Identity Dialtone, I thought of another telephony metaphor that may apply to trends within the Identity industry.

In the early expansion of telephony in the United States, someone predicted that if such heady growth continued, the Bell System would need to employ every woman in the nation to work as a telephone operator – all sitting at desks, plugging wires to connect people together over the telephone network.

In a way, that old prediction came true. Every woman (and man) became a telephone operator. This function was progressively pushed to the edge of the network. Each of us dial (now there is an antiquated word) telephones ourselves. We all sit at virtual switchboards to select people with whom we want to talk.

Perhaps this metaphor can help us understand the demand for and utility of User-centric Identity. Why shouldn’t I select how and when to use my identity information rather than relying on Ma Bell to handle it for me? Why shouldn’t this function be pushed to the edge? Gossipy Cousin Mabel at switchboard central doesn’t need to be in the loop for all the calls I make. Why should a virtual “Cousin Mabel” need to know about all my Identity information?

If history repeats itself, and it often does, we’ll figure out the balance between user-centric and enterprise-centric Identity Management, which I predict will eliminate Cousin Mabel and vest most responsibility in individuals at the edge. Then we’ll figure out something else to blame on Cousin Mabel and Ma Bell – so to speak.

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