Identities in the World of Ends, Means, and Control Freaks

First it was Doc Searls' Making Mydentities, a customer-centric approach to identities in the World of Ends.

  • Let's say I have engaged a new category of business–a relationship registrar called MyID–to certify, authenticate and otherwise substantiate the preferences, permissions and other variables that might be involved in mydentity-based relationships with participating companies and other organizations (including federal, state and local public ones). When I'm not using this mydentity, I still default to anonymity or to the relationships provided by current systems. A mydentity is not a Required Thing, but rather a huge value-add for the companies willing to do business with it.
  • Then, let's say I'm one of millions of other similarly registered folks.
  • Now, let's say I have a mydentity-enabled relationship with Disney. My family goes to their theme parks, buys their movies and takes their cruises. But the relationship has substance of the sort many of us have long enjoyed, in a deep but narrow way, with airlines that grant us privileges as frequent flyers and airport lounge club members. We matter to each other. Our mydentity-informed transaction histories substantiate that, as do our allied relationships with other companies and other customers. The difference is that whatever "federation" exists among those companies happens at my grace, not theirs.
  • Let's say I'm interested in making connections between Disney and certain other companies or kinds of companies with which I like to do business. That way, when I book a cruise, Disney will know and value the fact that I prefer to fly on United Airlines, stay in Marriott or Wyndham hotels and rent cars from Budget or Enterprise. Disney also will know there are kinds of businesses I don't want to deal with, such as the kind that make unsolicited telephone calls and e-mailings.

Russ Jones, a Glenbrook Partner, followed with "I should be the first to know".

"I should not only be able to watch my credit file, but various other combinations of my social security number, name, address, and telephone number, and other identity attributes. If someone opens a new account with my name and address but with another social security number, for example, I should be alerted. Bureaus should "unmask" the complexity of this situation and let consumers take control of how their identity attributes are accessed, used, and reported."

Finally, Jamie Lewis of the Burton Group raises the level of discussion a notch with "Ends and Means: Identities in Two Worlds", a very well written paper.  I particularly like the phrase 'World of Means'.  Unfortunately, he has no solution either other than pointing to somewhere between the World of Ends and Means.