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Re: self-sovereign terminology (was Re: New revision of Verifiable Claims Architecture summary)

From: james anderson <james@dydra.com>
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2016 17:52:16 +0000
Cc: public-credentials@w3.org
Message-ID: <01020155500ad9b8-54db90e1-c396-4d79-b22f-24af685fe59c-000000@eu-west-1.amazonses.com>
To: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>

> On 2016-06-14, at 16:03, Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com> wrote:
> On 06/14/2016 03:55 AM, james anderson wrote:
>> yes, why is “self-sovereign” a more appropriate term than
>> “sovereign”?
> Background reading on the "self-sovereign" term:
> http://www.lifewithalacrity.com/2016/04/the-path-to-self-soverereign-identity.html
> Over time, we've found that people associate the word "sovereign" with
> "nation state", which is not what we want.

that is why you would want to associate it with “claim”, not use it in isolation.

> We tested the word "self-sovereign" among ambassadors at the United
> Nations and one even used the term in a speech they gave. Keep in mind
> that until that happened, we didn't know if we'd have sovereign nation
> buy-in for the terminology.
> These aren't identifiers that nation states have control over, these are
> identifiers that individual entities have control over.

> We're also trying to find a word that isn't easily corrupted, like
> "user-centric" arguably was during the OpenID Connect days.

but, you are “corrupting" it in your use.
the earliest use, that i have found, intended to distinguish the status from that of a “sovereign”, as in your cited “nation state”, and to associate the status with an individual person.
which is not what you intend to do.

every usage in the current discourse has been to describe a claim, not a person.
perhaps you hope, that the formulation will lead one to appreciate that the intent is to permit an individual to take advantage of that sovereignty, but, as hopeful as that approach may be, it is not very carefully reasoned.

if there is any commentary which has gone through the etymology, i would appreciate the pointer.

> While some
> claim that OpenID Connect is truly user-centric, many of its criticizers
> note that Microsoft and Facebook co-opted the term and changed its
> meaning over time (for reasons left to the imagination). Users have no
> ultimate power over their identifiers in OpenID-based systems. That's
> not a slam against OpenID or SAML, it's just a reality of the design
> choices that were made. Those systems are still broadly deployed and
> used, even with their arguable shortcomings.
> Hope that helps explain the careful deliberation around the
> self-sovereign term.

it indicates that you may have intended to, but it does not convince.

best regards, from berlin,

james anderson | james@dydra.com | http://dydra.com
Received on Tuesday, 14 June 2016 17:52:47 UTC

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