The collection of credentials that define an identity may be quite wide (eg, name, address, employer etc) or quite narrow (eg, an e-mail address), so it’s the type of credentials that interest me and the moment rather than the number of them. One of the potentially valuable credentials that might be attached to a virtual identity might well be something along the lines of “IS_A_PERSON”. Why? Well, there are plenty of situations where net discourse is subverted by the absence of such of credential, point that came up only today when I was reading a blog for a magazine article I’m writing and came across this:
We have had 171 blogs setup on cublogs.org since we started it. Of all of those blogs, only 7 have actually been setup by real people or credit unions. The rest have all been spam and it is becoming a slight daily annoyance.[From Tough decision with cublogs.org | The Life and Times of a Credit Union Employee]
If you have a blog where it is important that people, not bots, contribute then you might well demand to see a certificate with the IS_A_PERSON credential, even though you don’t actually care which person it is. Ah, you might say, but who cares about blog posting? For important, regulated, activities such as banking then this sort of thing is irrelevant. Really? Consider the case of Las Vegas resident Adam Gregory who went on a business trip to Phoenix. He stayed at the Ritz-Carlton and charged the $1,082 bill to his American Express card — or so financial records show. In fact, Mr. Gregory didn’t live in Las Vegas, never held a job and wasn’t even a real person. He was a “synthetic” identity — a person who appears real on paper but is actually a fraudster’s concoction designed to trick financial institutions into granting loans and issuing credit cards.
There are other cases, of course, where it doesn’t matter whether an identity has the IS_A_PERSON credential or not. On this blog, I don’t care if a poster is a real person or a roomful of students or a bank: all I care about is that their comments add to the debate. On eBay, I don’t care whether a seller is a real person or a company or whatever so long as the reputation system works properly: if you have the stars, I’ll do business with you, which perhaps ought to be the web 3.0 rallying cry. Anyway…
In now traditional fashion there’s signed copy of Clay’s book Here Comes Everybody on my desk waiting to be sent to the first person to reply to this post with the name of the university where Clay is currently an adjunct professor. Also in the now traditional fashion, the offer is open to all except for employees and associates of Consult Hyperion and members of my immediate family. There are no cash alternatives and the prize must be won within a month. Oh, and no-one can win more than one of these blog competitions per year.
These opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]