Arizona State journalism professor and Knight chair holder Dan Gillmor is calling for an effort to “federate” identity management on the web:
“What I’d like to see, and would support with my money, is a collection of open-source, community-driven, federated services that achieved the same goals without putting our data and content into the hands of a few large and increasingly powerful companies. I suspect I’m not alone in wanting this. Are there enough of us to matter? And if so, are developers listening?”
He wrote that as the last paragraph to a blog post at The Guardian (U.K.) entitled: “Google+ forces us to question who owns our digital identity: Are enthusiastic users of social networking sites giving up too much control?”
In the post, Gillmor warns that putting too much of your “persona” — data about your friends, your “likes,” your interests and demographics — in a large social-networking service may be handing over too much control over your privacy without much in return. He’s correct, and it’s a key ongoing topic of the Information Valet Project. It’s also a key challenge addressed by our call for the formation of a global Information Trust Association, which would help establish protocols and opt-in business rules for trust, privacy, identity and information commerce on the web. I replied:
Responding to your last paragraph: In a more detailed post I’m sure you would have mentioned Doc Searls’ ProjectVRM work at the Berkman Center at Harvard University. Broadly, what we need is an infrastructure that supports multiple places where you can lodge your “persona” (demographic and personal data), and which vouch for you as you use resources on the web. Today Facebook Connect is the default commercial identity provider for the web. Clearly G+ is making a play to be No. 2, and the fact that Facebook blocked it is at one level a welcome sign of competition.
What we need is for there to be dozens, hundreds, thousands of identity service providers — so that users can choose the one they are most comfortable with. These could be banks, telcoms, ISPs, publishers, affinity groups or even new enterprises (such as Azigo.com or Personal.com) formed for this purpose. The key issue is that they be willing — and able — to cross-authenticate their users so that they are silos, but silos which are unwalled from the user perspect.
We’re in the early stages of a four-party approach to trust, privacy, identity and information commerce — users, the user agent who helps with identity, the outfits that rely on the trust provided by the user agent (retail and content websites, eventually health-care providers perhaps) and a fourth party — the service which authenticates all of this activity.
The fourth party — the authenticator — best not be a for-profit or government entity. I’ve sketched out an idea for a global Information Trust Association which starts to get at a possible solution. And the white paper
details the idea.
Yesterday, in Washington, D.C., a group of about 15 people met to work on a response to the Obama administration’s call for a private-sector let approach to Internet federated identity. They were responding to the National Strategy for Trusted identities in Cyberspace. The government effort may be a catalyst for the work you are asking about.
– bill densmore
Posted in identity, information trust, information valet, ita, privacy
Tagged Facebook, Gillmor, google, idenity, informationvalet, infovalet, ita, journalism, privacy, Searls, trust, VRM
Writing at the All Things Digital (ATD) tech blog site, John Paczkowski quotes Google Chairman Eric Schmidt in seeming to support the premise of a non-profit Information Trust Association consortium — creating a new web infrastructure for trust, identity and commerce that isn’t controlled by a single company. Schmidt was speaking in Q&A format at a May 31 event organized by ATD.
In context, Schmidt was discussing the importance of user identity as a web service, because “in the online world you need to know who you are dealing with.” His remarks also came a minute or so after he said he admired some of what Facebook has done. Facebook’s “Facebook Connect” service is used by thousands of websites to provide single-sign-on identity. As quoted by Paczkowski, Schmidt added: “Historically, on the Internet such a fundamental service wouldn’t be owned by a single company. I think the industry would benefit from an alternative to that . . . . “
Paczkowski’s post is HERE. Schmidt was at the D9 Conference at Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. There are video exerpts, but the part quoted by Packowski of the Schmidt interview by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher didn’t make the edit for the video archive.
We exchange email yesterday with my CircLabs Inc. colleague, Jeff Vander Clute, about a blog post written by venture capitalist Bill Gurley. Gurley’s post (LINK) argues that Google is giving away the Android operating system — and many things around it — because no one can compete with free and the mass adoption of these free services is making Google’s advertising business unassailable.
Vander Clute remarked about Gurley’s thesis:
Fascinating points leading up to the legal destruction of wealth. It stands to reason that the marginal cost of software development going to zero in the long run means upside going to zero. Entrenched players for whom software > development is cheap or a byproduct can choose to give away a version of *your* product for free or less than free.
Right. So one begins to realize this essential truth — Google is neither a technology company, nor a search company. It has become a marketing company. Currently its business is the selling of advertising. It didn’t start out that way. It started out intending the organize the world’s information and make it useful and accessible. But now Wall Street expects it to feed its advertising juggernaut first.
For the advertising to remain effective, Google is going to have to learn more and more about us. The looming battle: On what terms does it learn about us and operate in what I’ve begun to call the “advisor-tising” space? For Google the engineering and software — Android, maps, apps, wallets — is now focused on drawing more and more of us in, and learning more and more about us, so that we can be better and better packaged and presented to people who want to sell us something.
At least in the world I come from, there is the intention to provide a service — civic information — that rides atop advertising and is served by it rather than vice versa. At least that’s been an aspiration for the news industry and the continuing focus of its best thinkers.
The good news: Gradually, Google — and Facebook — are going to figure out that being the “infovalet” requires a new kind of trust relationship with the user if you want to remain their most-favored agent. And that will involve providing something of value beyond a lot of free, ad-supported services. How about news? Google has for now one of the must trusted and recognized brands in the world. It will need to adopt the role of infovalet to keep that enviable position.
Figuring out that relationship is the next phase of the web and what fascinates me and why I crafted our RJI white paper as “Paper to Persona.” And it’s a playing field where news organizations have strength — if they can just learn to use technology as adroitly and innovatively as do Facebook, Google and Amazon.
Posted in information valet, ita
Tagged advertising, advisortising, Android, apps, Facebook, google, infovalet, journalism, marketing, paper, persona, search, wallet
Google Inc. CEO Eric Schmidt delivered the closing address on Tuesday (April 7) to the Newspaper Association of America convention in San Diego. The talk was sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism. Click on the link below to go to and launch the audio, or download an MP3 podcast for offline listening. (54 minutes, 13MB) (The sound of keyboard clicking stops after the first few minutes)
CLICK HERE TO LAUNCH STREAMING AUDIO
The Poynter Institute website published a transcript of the Q&A portion of his appearance:
And here’s the script of the Cover-It-Live real-time blogging of his talk:
The first question in San Diego at the NAA closing to Google CEO Eric Schmidt was asked by RJI’s Roger Gafke. Here is the exchange:
ROGER GAFKE: You have mentioned the importance of advertising as the future but in your opening remarks you mentioned a bit about micropayments and subscriptions. Would you elaborate a bit on each of those other potentials?
ERIC SCHMIDT: I think you are going to end up with all three. An analogy I would offer is television — there is free over-the-air-television, there’s cable television and then there’s pay television. And they have smaller markets as you go from free to more highly paid. And that structure looks to use like roughly the structure of all of these businesses. Today there are very effective subscription-based models, but there are not very good micropayment systems, micropayments meaning 1-cent, 3-cent kinds of systems. They clearly need to be developed by the industry. So I think from your perspective you should assume that your information, if there is a category of information that you all produce that you’ll want to distribute free – freely – there’s a category of information that you’ll want to distribute on a per-click basis and then there’s some of it you’ll want subscription for. The reality [is] that in this new model, the vast majority of people will only deal with the free model and so you.ll be forced whether we like it or not, to have a significant advertising component as well as a micropayment and a traditional payment system. The technology around micropayments is getting to be possible now. The transaction costs were so high before that you couldn’t do the one-cent, three-cent kind of a model. It looks like the new technologies around aggregation will allow that at the payment level.