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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Friday, May 26, 2017

Connected Personal Clouds – Relationships Matter

Identity, Personal Cloud
Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, May 9, 2013
9:49 pm

 

Network effect

To me, one of the most compelling parts in Phil Windley’s recent white paper, “Introducing Forever: Personal Cloud Application Architectures,” was the emphasis placed on relationships between personal clouds.  A few statements that intrigued me (emphasis added):

One of the most important features of the Kynetx CloudOS is its built-in support for personal channels. …

Even more so than personal computers, personal clouds are only interesting when they are connected. The connection between two personal clouds—or between a personal cloud and anything else it is connected to is called a personal channel. The network of people and organizations linked via personal channels is called a relationship network. …

Personal channels on an open-standard relationship web can be dramatically more useful to individuals and businesses than ordinary email or Web connections. Forever makes use of personal channels by using them as the conduits over which permissioned access to profile information for the user’s contacts occurs.

I expect that relationships between personal clouds, not the personal clouds themselves, will provide the fuel to ignite and accelerate substantive growth in the use of personal clouds. The “network effect” emerging as an expanding social graph is instantiated in a personal cloud architecture could create a bandwagon of growing adoption.

The question remains … what “killer application” or set of applications built on a personal cloud architecture will trigger such a crescendo?

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SquareTag Project Report

Identity
Author: Mark Dixon
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
10:07 am

About two months ago, I started a small project to see how SquareTags would work on virtual objects like web pages. Subsequent posts are hereherehere and here.  This post summarized what I learned.  Thanks to Phil Windley and his team for encouragement and support.

One by one, I tagged a few web pages I control with a Square Tag and defined an object in my SquareTag personal cloud as illustrated below.

SquareTagReport

 

I invited people to scan the tags and send me a Twitter ID or email address so I could respond. I received about 40 responses from nine states in the US, plus four other nations.  Not bad for a little blog way out on the long tail of online information.

Here are some things I learned:

Tagging virtual objects works as well as physical objects (I tagged some physical stuff, too.)

I was able to easily link information in my personal cloud to the virtual objects.  The personal cloud could potentially be a comprehensive repository for all my physical and virtual possessions.

In the cases of Facebook, About.me and Paper.li (the Discovering Identity Paper), the tags are embedded in a .jpg image, so the host site probably doesn’t even know the links exist.

Orange works just as good as black for SquareTags.  I started by using photos of the adhesive SquareTags I purchased, but then created orange tags which encoded the SquareTag URL and code for each tag.

I don’t think QR Codes are broadly used by most people.  I had to explain to several people I know what the codes were and explain what they needed to do to scan a SquareTag.

The user experience presented when someone scanned a SquareTag wasn’t optimized for this experiment.  Only one field was available, so having people uniformly offer both a contact point (Twitter ID or email address) and location didn’t always work.  Sometimes I would receive geo coordinates, but that required that a person opted in to use them.

All in all, it was an enjoyable experiment.  I think I’ll leave the tags in place for awhile, just to see if anyone else responds.  After all, I got one out of the blue yesterday.

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Core Identities and Personal Data Stores

Identity, Privacy
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, May 3, 2013
12:23 pm

MIT

I just finished reading an intriguing white paper, “Towards a Trustworthy Digital Infrastructure for Core Identities and Personal Data Stores,” written by Thomas HardjonoDazza Greenwood, and Alex (Sandy) Pentland, all associated with MIT.  I was particularly interested to see how much detail has been built around this concept of Core Identities since Dazza Greenwood and I discussed it several years ago, while I was employed by Sun Microsystems.

The paper proposes …

At the heart of digital identities is the concept of the core identity of an individual, which inalienably belongs to that individual. The core identity serves as the root from which emerge other forms of digital derived identities (called personas) that are practically useful and are legally enforced in digital transactions.

… and goes on to explore:

potential business models for Core Identity service providers and Persona providers (specializing in personalization, privacy and preferences services for a unified user experience across many sites and systems)

The paper then ties the concept of Core Identities and Personas to the MIT Open Personal Data Store (Open PDS) initiative:

The OpenPDS is an open-source Personal Data Store (PDS) enabling the user to collect, store, and give access to their data while protecting their privacy. Users can install and operate their own PDS, or alternatively users can operate an OpenPDS instance in a hosted environment.

We use the term “dynamic” here to denote that fact that the PDS does not only contain static data but also incorporates the ability to perform computations based on policy and is user-managed or user-driven. In a sense, the OpenPDS can be considered a small and portable Trusted Compute Unit belonging to an individual.

The paper concludes by emphasizing these four concepts:

  1. An infrastructure to support the establishment and use of core identities and personas is needed in order to provide equitable access to data and resources on the Internet.
  2. Personas are needed which are legally bound to core identifiers belonging to the individual. We see personas as a means to achieve individual privacy through the use of derived identifiers.
  3. the privacy preserving features of core identities and personas fully satisfy the data privacy requirements of Personal Data Stores as defined by the MIT OpenPDS project. The ability for an individual to own and control his or her personal data through deployment of a PDS represents a key requirement for the future of the digital commerce on Internet.
  4. We believe the MIT OpenPDS design allows for a new breed of providers to emerge who will support consumer privacy, while at the same time allow the consumer to optionally partake in various data mining and exploration schemes in a privacy-preserving manner.

This sounds like OpenPDS is very much in line with the Personal Cloud concept.  Perhaps the MIT work with Core Identities, Personas and Open Personal Data Systems will help shorten the time before we can take advantage of real, working Personal Clouds. 

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Hobbyist Computing and Personal Clouds

Cloud Computing, Identity
Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, May 2, 2013
7:50 am

Telephonedial

One of the benefits of growing old is the historical perspective offered by advancing age. I have been privileged to be an active participant as the computer industry has literally unfolded before my eyes.  

The first computer I saw demonstrated, back in 1970, was built by a hobbyist, using flip flops constructed out of discrete transistors and a numeric  Nixie tube display. The input device?  A rotary phone dial.  As an electronics hobbyist myself, I was fascinated by the blinking lights, even though the contraption really wasn’t very useful as an end user device.

Fast forward a few years … As part of my first engineering job, I built my first personal computer in 1978, predating the IBM PC by three years.  It was based on the Texas Instruments 9900 microprocessor, one of the first 16-bit microprocessors. I designed and built the color graphics display board and modified a Sony Trinitron TV to be the color monitor. I had to design and debug the circuitry, work with others to design the chassis and circuit boards and solder in all the chips.  I used an original Soroc terminal and Epson TX-80 dot matrix printer.  The computer had a rudimentary operating system and simple text editor.  I thought I was in heaven!  For a geek like me, I had both the joy of experimentation and emerging productivity for my work.

My next big step forward was getting one of the original Compaq luggable PCs – complete with two 256k 5-1/4 inch floppy drives (no hard drive). It was a great step forward in packaging, but the real benefit was the software – WordPerfect word processor and Lotus123 spreadsheet.  My productivity really accelerated.  And I didn’t have to build anything. (By the way, I still have that computer!)

Of course, the MacBook Air I use now is almost infinitely more capable than the those old relics.  We have come a long way.

What does this have to do with Personal Clouds? I somehow get the feeling we are still in the hobbyist phase.  A lot of blinking lights and personal tinkering and vision of the future, but not a lot of real utility and tangible benefits.

Don’t get me wrong – I really like the concept of personal clouds.  I like the promise of  better privacy, better personal control over my information, easier to use Identity and payments infrastructure and unifying functionality in a virtual container in the cloud. I salute those who are working to transform vision into reality.

But at this time in my life, I tend to be impatient. I want my MacBook Air when all that is available is Nixie tubes and rotary phone dials.   I’d like to see the next Apple emerge or some stodgy old IBM-like company leverage their market presence and offer Personal Cloud infrastructure that is really easy to use and really useful to old fogies like me.

Who will it be?

 

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Gigabytes of Personal Data

Identity, Privacy
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
8:19 pm

Now, in honor of my post about Personal Clouds – the philosophy of Frank & Ernest:

Frankandernest 130501

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Who Will Host My #PersonalCloud?

Identity
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
8:03 pm

Safedepositbox

I think I inadvertently touched a nerve today.

After reading the post “Why the ‘i’ in iPhone Will Stand For ‘Identity’“, I tweeted an interesting statement from the middle of that post:

“Establishing one’s company as the de facto digital identity layer is the single biggest business opportunity” http://t.co/OGboZREiTj

Almost immediately, @windley re-tweeted my post and @dsearls responded:

@mgd … and a huge mistake, again, because identity is personal: http://t.co/Ip1VubbY8E #vrm

After reading Doc’s rebuttal to the iPhone paper, “Identity is Personal,” and his earlier post, “Identity systems, failing to communicate,” which speaks to why our current Identity systems are so abysmal, and a third post, “People will do more with Big Data than big companies can,” which predicts that personal clouds will emerge this decade as the best solution to the identity problem, I tweeted this question:

@dsearls Who do you predict will host the personal cloud(s) that will resolve our identity challenges?  #vrm #PersonalCloud

Doc’s answer:

@mgd People themselves, and/or fourth parties they choose. Read @Windley for more on this. #personalcloud #vrm

Doc is right.  Phil Windley has written some excellent posts on the subject.  Some recent ones, in chronological order:

  1. Own Your Identity: Important Principles
  2. Build the World You Want to Live In
  3. Pot Holes and Picos
  4. IMAP as the Proto Personal Cloud
  5. Personal Clouds and the Future of the Web

I do like the concept of personal clouds.  I have experimented a little bit with Phil’s personal cloud infrastructure at Kynetx.  The orange SquareTag in the upper right area of this blog is an artifact of my little experiment to tag my social media places with SquareTags and connect them to my personal cloud hosted by Kynetx.

But my question still remains: What companies will emerge as the leading hosters of personal clouds?  I don’t want to host my own; I don’t think my wife, as bright as she is, would learn how to do it.

I would like my personal cloud to be hosted by a capable institution I trust. I would like Identity credentials I select from my personal cloud to be recognized by every website I choose to visit, and I would like the payment method I choose from my personal cloud to be accepted by every vendor I purchase things from.  That will require broadly accepted standards for Identity and payments and the large-scale infrastructure to make it work.

I tend to think that it will take some pretty large organizations to pull that off.

My vote for an institution to host my personal cloud?  My bank.  It already has a vault full of things that are like analog personal clouds – safe deposit boxes.  I choose what goes in my box and what comes out.  The bank can’t get it without my key.

Plus, my bank provides a whole litany of payment options. And, I tend to trust them to take are of my money. Perhaps I could trust them with my digital safe deposit box as well.  I’d even be willing to pay for it.

Will they do it?  That is another question.

 

Mammoth – Will it be my Personal Cloud?

Identity, Privacy
Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, April 5, 2013
4:49 pm

The most intriguing thing to hit my desk today was the announcement of the new Mammoth service to “save links, add notes, and selectively grab content from multiple webpages into a single, shareable, organizable document.” 

I followed a tweet from @paulmadsen and reserved my name.  You can reserve your name, too, by clicking here, or on the image below.  If you click here and reserve your name, you will be in line to use the service, and I will be one step closer to getting my account activated (I need a couple more friends to click through). We will both be one step closer to testing how to collaborate on Mammoth.  Thanks for clicking!

I do think these guys understand privacy.  See below the image for more …

Mammoth

I like the sound of what they say about security and privacy:

security and privacy are top of our list …

We want to make sure nothing gets leaked unless you specifically expose it to the world. So no, no social networks to login, no weird permissions to manage, no scary dreams of that weird things you like making it out into the world. Its just simple. …

Our entire business is based on your trust – why would we screw with that? To put simply, we don’t have any reason to misuse any information we collect. And we only capture data thats needed to enable a feature for you, nothing else.

Could this be a “personal cloud” that I can really use?  It has my name on it.  It sounds like it will be secure. I look forward to checking it out.  

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#SquareTag Experiment – Take 2

Identity
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, March 18, 2013
7:58 pm

Squaretag4

Last Saturday, as my previous post described, I launched a little experiment by SquareTagging my blog. I had to make a few adjustments as I received some responses back from the kind folks who participated in the experiment.  Thanks to Phil Windley who was very helpful in answering questions and connecting me with a couple of the Kynetx developers.

It was fun to get responses from five states (Arizona, California, Idaho, Nebraska and Utah). Thanks to all of you who scanned or clicked on the SquareTag.

I have begun to formulate in my mind a blog post or two about personal clouds, based on this experiment.  Please stay tuned for more

If you haven’t done so, could you please scan or click on the SquareTag in this post or in the header of the blog?  I’d really appreciate it.

Thanks,

Mark

 

Blog Tagging with #SquareTag

Identity
Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, March 16, 2013
10:44 am

Squaretag4I received my first order of SquareTag labels this week and tagged the normal things – iPad, briefcase, etc. It was fun to see that when a tag was scanned, the SquareTag “SafeAndMine” system sent me a geotagged message indicating where the scan had taken place.

In the wee hours of this morning, during a bout of insomnia, I had a brainstorm – why not SquareTag my blog? So, here it is. Please scan the SquareTag label, in this post or in the blog header, and send me a short message. It would be great to see who tagged me and where you are located. I’ll report back with the results.

One caveat … when you scan my tag, you will get a message from SquareTag saying, “You’ve found my Other.” The good folks at Kynetx didn’t anticipate this little experiment, so my blog is, at least for now, an “Other”.

Thanks – and good tagging!

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Personal Data, Clouds, and Operating Systems

Identity
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
9:47 pm

This afternoon, I took an intriguing romp through several recent articles about personal data, clouds and operating systems – somewhat following on my recent exploration of Life Management Platforms, which fall into the same general category. I really like the emphasis on the term Personal. True personalization implies that I am able to leverage my identity to get more and more value from my online experience.

I started my little exploration with Drummond Reed’s recent post, Social, Local, Mobile, Personal, which led me to two posts on the Respect Network blog:

These posts in turn led me to an intriguing white paper, From Personal Computers to Personal Clouds, The Advent of the Cloud OS, written by industry luminaries Craig Burton, Scott David, Drummond Reed, Doc Searls, and Phil Windley,

A few items that really connected with me:

First, the following chart from Drummond’s post illustrates the progression toward a personal network or platform. That seems particularly relevant to me as Facebook, though social, is decidedly and increasingly less personal.  I would very much like to see concepts such as Life Management Platforms and Personal Channels emerge to give me more control over my information and interactions with others.

Second, I like the concept that Personal Channels provide “Volume Control” plus “Intelligent Filtering and Organization.”  I have become increasingly perturbed at the level of irrelevant noise on Facebook and Twitter.  To some extent, I can filter things down by using groups and lists, but it is cumbersome and very limited.

Third, the concept of a cloud operating system is powerful.  The ability to have a COS to handle services like Identity, Program Execution, Data Abstraction and Communication will enable much innovation and will be necessary to really deliver functionality like Life Management Platforms and Personal Channels.

However, unless someone can deliver infinite bandwidth to us all, I doubt that we will completely get away from the mobile device “calf” connected to the cloud “cow,” to borrow Craig Burton’s model.  Intelligence at the personal device OS level that is uniquely positioned to provide crisp, beautiful and functional user interfaces will need to be seamlessly integrated with powerful functionality and connectivity at the COS level.

After reading and trying to understand all this innovative thinking, I bumped into an article about app.net, a project which claims to be building a “different kind of social platform”:

We’re building a real-time social service where users and developers come first, not advertisers … We believe that advertising-supported social services are so consistently and inextricably at odds with the interests of users and developers that something must be done.

It sounds like the app.net platform will not only provide a “personal channel,” but a cloud operating system of sorts, where developers can plug in interrelated applications in a standardized way.  It doesn’t appear to possess all the qualities of a COS as defined in the Burton, et al, white paper, but perhaps it is a step in the right direction.  I signed up as an early adopter in hopes their project gets funded.

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