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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Saturday, May 25, 2024

Who Will Host My #PersonalCloud?

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


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.


IoT – Emerging and Receding Invisibly into the Fabric of Life

Identity, Internet of Things
Author: Mark Dixon
Monday, April 1, 2013
9:08 pm


Last week, T.Rob Wyatt authored an intriguing post, “Futurist’s Groundhog Day.” I found it by following Phil Windley‘s tweeted recommendation:

Futurist’s Groundhog Day: http://t.co/pq75vMPZsS #vrm

It wasn’t long before Doc Searls tweeted,

The best #VRM post, ever: http://t.co/IiQrMR12Ox, by @tdotrob, honored here: http://t.co/xERNWkA6Sp

I agree that the post addressed the VRM concept very well, but I particularly liked T.Rob’s description about how technology, once broadly accepted, “disappeared into the fabric of life.”

First, a historical observation:

The first electric motors were envisioned to replace steam motors within the same architecture: one big motor, lots of belts and pulleys. But what actually happened was that electric motors disappeared into the fabric of life. There’s one on my wrist as I write this. There are roughly 30 within arm’s reach of my chair. Electric motors are invisible. We don’t think of them as motors, we think of them as a watch, hard drive, CD/DVD player, printer, sprinkler valve, drill, toy, fan, vacuum cleaner, etc.

Next, a prediction:

In the near future a “smart switch” will just be a switch. A “smart” anything will just become that thing and the old version will become a “dumb thing.” The instrumentation will no longer be a novelty but will recede invisibly into the fabric of life. When steam engines were replaced by electric motors, it was hard to imagine a time when motors would fit on your wrist. It’s just as difficult today to imagine why we’d want sensors and actuators in all our devices and objects but let’s table that and stipulate that it happens.

And further observation about when sensors become ubiquitous:

In the very near future your casual behavior and activities will be trackable with the precision and detail only possible today in the confines of a lab. Every device, object or surface will potentially be a sensor. The physical constraints assumed by the current legal framework and that balanced the power of individuals against corporate and government interest are disappearing. The digital representation of you that was once a rough tile mosaic is coming into focus for vendors and government as a hi-def, crystal image.

In my lifetime, it has been great to see so much technology emerge as novelty and then become commonplace. Think pocket calculators, microwave ovens and mobile phones.  Now, the Internet of Things, including ubiquitous sensors, is emerging.  We can expect IoT to grow, become commonplace and then “recede invisibly into the fabric of life.”

Hence, T.Rob’s challenge:

IoT is coming so embrace it.  It is inevitable and it is closer than you think.  If you start with 50 billion instrumented things (or trillions if you are ambitious) and work backward, what do we need to build to pave the road between here and there?

Exciting stuff.  Just think – every one of those billions of devices will have an identity (or identifier, depending on your point of view).  Sign me up for the journey.

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