Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Career 2.0

Here's what I want to be when I grow up, at least for the next ten years. Everyone hears about web 2.0, myspace, and all the other goodies out there to digest on the web today, but I think very few understand shortcoming of the digital era and what impedes its growth.

For those of you who have been trapped inside a closet, there is a social revolution going on, and technology is driving initiatives which crush borders and streamline communication among different human 'digital services.'

Today, people are able to be heard, they are able to interact interesting ways, and they are able to participate in digital communities all around the globe. 'Entities' can / will / and are exploiting these social circles not only for monetary benefits, but for power and influence as well. This is nothing new, but its just much more easier and much more in depth in this day and age. It's subtle, but over time, anything you do on the web is 'in the system' and is used for historical trend analysis (i.e. Google may know more about you than you know about yourself, what you were 'doing' 4 years ago that you probably can't remember, etc)

Which begs the need for an identity management system, where the individual is put in the center of this ring of chaos, and they control the content they wish to have on the web, they control which entities they decide to interact with, they have more control over their personal information and thus more control of their lives. A few players are emerging in this 'battle' for federated identity (as it pertains to the web), OpenID, Cardspace, as well as a collage of products from IBM. These players are counting on a ring of trust and compatibility that will put the individual at the center of a happy circle of confidence.

Crazy thing is all this is brand new, the problem has been there for a while, but its really just now starting to be addressed, therefore we are on the forefront of what could be one of the 'coolest' (in the uncool 'professional' sorta way) undertakings of our time, with implications all over the place.

I'm reading a white paper that explains the challenges in 4 different views, Social, Technical, Legal, and business, I'll spout my two cents on what each of them mean to me, based on my knowledge of the subject.

Social - You ever stop to think about what kinda teen drama (and even adult drama) goes on in the confines of myspace? As the web gets more usable, interactive and popular, think about that sorta drama on a 'world wide web' basis. Think about the instances you could be victim of someones rant, and think about instances where privacy does matter, even in a social environment, especially when it comes to the integration of ideas (i.e. merging your blogger account with last.fm with your wiki site, (or obviously something with greater stakes) etc, etc). With a proper identity online, this aids in accountability of the things you say and the things you do on the web, and could perhaps provide a means of getting slander or other bad stuff 'out of the system.'

Technical - Besides Skip, Microsoft and Tivoli, all sorts of institutions will begin to spring up to 'hold' your identity, and the technology is going to have to provide a means for you the individual to 'use' your personal information and credentials at different services, i.e. banks, academia, employment, government, etc, etc. Hence federation of identity. I still think the major players are still scratching their heads on this one, but when the dust settles, the individuals will climb aboard a system that they trust is safe and easy to use. I believe this to be a big challenge.

Legal - It ain't in the books yet (OJT IT IS), so another facet of challenge. It's interesting to watch different groups fumble around with DRM laws, and interesting how A**le is the biggest supporter of DRM, in lieu that music downloading service they have. When it comes to digital law and digital content, I believe the creative commons has it down, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation currently works to protect your digital identity. Think about how much easier this would be if they had a way to uniquely identify your identity across websites. This is the foundation for lawyers to protect you from 'bad things' on the web.

Business - Decentralization is cutting into the profit margins of all digital content providers, and step one isn't DRM (don't you get pissed when you buy a 'music player' and it doesn't do mp3, or wma, or mp4, ogg, etc, etc, etc), it's an identity metasystem that works across the board. Also, this goes back to the good ol' supply chain management, streamlining interactions between your buyers and sellers, therefore reducing 'cost per transaction,' therefore making some CEO happy, hey, maybe that will be me one day. :) -- It also helps corporate infrastructure with 'user maintenance,' and provides 'single sign-on' access for different systems and different applications.....blah blah blah....

One may ask, well how does this help people? Off the top of my head I can think of a few things. Think about every time you search for something at Google, think about a 'quasi fascist' politician fighting the 'war on terror' subpoena'ing information from your Google account. Well, you're not a terrorist, but we found this, this, and this suspicious behavior.......It's that 'slippery slope' people often talk about. Think about all the websites you have to sign up for a new account with...I do about 5-6 per week. Think about how convenient it would be to have your information in one place and these websites work around you. Think about identity theft and misrepresentation. Think about all the personalized spam you receive and how to combat that. Bad people go pfishing, if you have a good identity system, what are they going to find? Think about all the walls we build in society (and even on borders< &#^%!) -- With better identity control, once your 'in the system,' as long as there is nothing at stake that is exposed, a bad guy goes, it sucks in here, I'm leaving. Think about being able to reduce artifically produced viral marketing. The list can go on and on and on.

To conclude, this stuff spans many knowledge areas, it will always be exciting and heated, I'm thinking your selfish, greedy, and especially control freaks type people won't get what all the hub-bub is about, while the road is being paved around them. This is the revolution, and I believe we as a society for the sake of progress need to put a 'meter' on it......a meter that 'works' for all parties involved, with concessions being made by all parties.

Ahoy mate.......land!!! The ship moves, but it moves slowly.

1 comment:

Shannon Gillar Of The Sugarland Gillars said...

Good description of your area of interest. It is cool that you can find something that excites and drives you. I think the next step is to see how this can be taken to an actual career.

In my narrow-viewed mind there are a couple of options (in order of coolness - also in reverse order of most practical)

1) Generate a solution- You could generate a solution which could be used to track this information. Although cool, I am not sure how you would get others to trust you with that information.

2) Consult those looking for a solution – You could become a general identity management consultant. You could assist other is choosing the right solution. You could write articles on the subject and become the expert in the field. Again cool, but I am not sure how many people would pay for a generalist. Most people pay for someone with expertise in a specific technology, which bring me to…

3) Consult around a specific technology/solution – Pick something that you think will be a winner (Tivoli or whatever) and become a general solution expert on that. You could go in and help companies implement the solution. This is something I could see companies/governments actually paying for.

4) Work for the man Pick something you think will be the winner and go work for that company. I think with your interest in the area, you would be able to get your foot in the door (although you may have to leave Austin).

A word or warning, specifically on choosing a winner, and repercussions if you are wrong. This sounds vaguely familiar to other IT initiatives. As an example middleware in the early 2000’s. There was talk of how it would change the world and there were several potential vendors (Vitria, Tibco, MQ Series, and others), my friend chose Vitria as it looked like a winner at the time. He became an expert and was highly sought after. But Vitria eventually fell out of favor. With products such as Tibco, Microsoft Biztalk etc. taking over. My friend lost his job and had little experience to fall back on…

Best of luck and we can geek out over the possibilities one day…