W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-credentials@w3.org > April 2017

Re: Blockchain Standardization (was Re: PR for playground)

From: Adrian Hope-Bailie <adrian@hopebailie.com>
Date: Mon, 3 Apr 2017 16:18:09 -0700
Message-ID: <CA+eFz_+cXc+OcedWrRtAcGkeL-db+NBWo4LvJGNia6jzCmwBHA@mail.gmail.com>
To: Melvin Carvalho <melvincarvalho@gmail.com>
Cc: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>, W3C Credentials Community Group <public-credentials@w3.org>, Greg Adamson <g.adamson@ieee.org>, Timothy Holborn <timothy.holborn@gmail.com>, Blockchain CG <public-blockchain@w3.org>
On 2 April 2017 at 12:24, Melvin Carvalho <melvincarvalho@gmail.com> wrote:

>
>
> On 2 April 2017 at 20:29, Adrian Hope-Bailie <adrian@hopebailie.com>
> wrote:
>
>>
>> On 2 April 2017 at 04:19, Melvin Carvalho <melvincarvalho@gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>
>>>
>>>
>>> On 2 April 2017 at 04:19, Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com> wrote:
>>>
>>>> bcc: Credentials CG
>>>> cc: Blockchain CG
>>>>
>>>> Migrating this thread to the Blockchain CG mailing list as it's become
>>>> more blockchain-y, than web payments-y or verifiable claim-y.
>>>>
>>>> For those that didn't see the start of this thread, it is here:
>>>>
>>>> https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-credentials/2017
>>>> Mar/0023.html
>>>>
>>>> On 03/31/2017 11:25 PM, Adrian Hope-Bailie wrote:
>>>>
>>>>> I am interested to hear from those of you involved what the goals of
>>>>> these [Blockchain Standardization] initiatives are?
>>>>>
>>>>
>>>> I think the goals are different between the standards bodies, and
>>>> personally, I find it very difficult to track everything going on at the
>>>> moment as things are still very dynamic.
>>>>
>>>
>> So it's not just me!
>>
>>
>>>
>>>> What are you trying to standardize?
>>>>>
>>>>
>>>> I've heard at least these answers to that question:
>>>>
>>>> * governance for each blockchain
>>>> * decentralized identifiers
>>>>
>>>
>>> I think we have to standardize decentralized identifiers, as everything
>>> else is built on that.
>>>
>>> +1
>>
>> I feel like a lot of the technical standardization work is riding the
>> blockchain hype. It's big "S" standardization just for the sake of
>> standards bodies not wanting to miss the boat.
>>
>> Somebody please tell me what an ISO technical committee is going to
>> standardize wrt DLT and Blockchain. The ISO process is way too slow to be
>> effective in such a fast developing area.
>>
>> IMO technical standardization it will be ineffective until it has a
>> focused use case (like DIDs). Part of the reason Interledger has been
>> successful is that it's not trying to standardize something broad like DLT
>> it's focused on value transfer.
>>
>>
>>
>>> We've been stuck on this topic for 10 years as everyone has their pet
>>> favorite identity system.
>>>
>>> What is needed is a system that will interoperate, and we should
>>> aggressively throw out identity systems on the criteria that cant be shown
>>> to interoperate (which is most of them!) or have significant traction.
>>>
>>> The main problem I see is that people are fascinated by overloading
>>> identifiers to do two (or three) different things.  This is wrong.
>>> Identifiers should be opaque.  The reason being that different people will
>>> overload in different ways, and that leads to failure to interoperate, and
>>> balkanization.
>>>
>>
>> Actually I think the problem is interoperability in the various protocols
>> used to resolve and discover addresses and services from an identifier/name.
>>
>> And crucially, the need for identifiers to be useful and accessible to
>> humans.
>>
>
> Typically a human will never see their URI.  Inquisitive developer types
> might dive into that, but not regular users.
>
> Tied to those URIs will be human readable labels, such as firstame
> lastname (e.g. facebook) or email address (eg google), but neither of these
> will be your unique URI, they will be artifacts of UI.  There is a trap
> that is easy to fall into, which is to conflate the operation of the UI (ie
> what a user types in), with the universal identifier used to create a
> social graph.  This is a key limitation of web 2.0 systems such as OpenID.
>

When I want to register on a new system it asks me to type in my identifier.
I don't want to type in a URI.

That is the usability problem that must be solved.

If my identifier is mailto:adrian@hopebailie.com or tel:+12345678 then what
do I type into the box labelled identifier?

If the only use for the identifier was as a universal identifier for a
social graph then everyone would use http URIs and the problem would be
solved.


>
> Each type of URI will have ability to lookup more information about a
> user.  In HTTP this is well standardized with linked data.  Other systems
> will need to popularize lookup systems, and grow a network effect around
> that.  This is normally a lengthy process (years or decades).  HTTP URIs on
> the other hand have the advantage of a large network, and well defined
> lookup systems that are the most widely deployed on the planet.  So having
> a good strategy for this kind of identifier will be critical.  That's not
> to say that HTTP URIs are the only game in town, other types will gain
> traction over time and they should all be able to play nicely together so
> longs as specifications allow that to happen.
>
> I think for newer protocols it would be an advantage to standardize ways
> to map them to HTTP URIs too.  This is sometimes done with the "well-known"
> pattern.  One type I've been interested lately in, is ipfs which seem to
> have a nice eco system for working with hashed content.
>
> Perhaps it's going to be possible to align ipfs and did identifiers for
> the domain (decentralized) independent paradigm.  IPFS want to also
> implement Linked Data so that could help interop.
>
>
>>
>>
>>>
>>> The most logical thing to do is to start by saying standardization of
>>> identities MUST be URIs.
>>>
>>> Then look at ecosystems within each URI scheme:
>>>
>>> For example
>>>
>>> http URIs have a perfectly good spec that is widely deployed called
>>> WebID.  Alternatives in the http world can be proposed, but let's be ready
>>> to standardize what makes sense.  I would recommend labeling any identity
>>> system that relies on http 303 redirects as an anti pattern, as experience
>>> has shown they are a nightmare to deal with, and also they mix the data
>>> layer with the transport layer.
>>>
>>> bitcoin seems to have significant traction as a uri scheme and fits into
>>> the anyURI category
>>>
>>> I think enough work has been done on DID URIs to merit further
>>> investigation
>>>
>>> Of course mailto: and tel: URI schemes exist.
>>>
>>
>> This is a nice start but then there needs to be a standard discovery
>> protocol per scheme.
>>
>
> Yes.  Well, only if you're going to use that scheme.  If you use HTTP URIs
> the problem goes away.  A better question might be why you would want to
> use something else?
>

Because I want something more usable (telephone number, email address,
national id number) or I don't want to use the Web as my backing DB. I want
to use a DLT for example.


>
>
>>
>> We have a standard encoding for a Universal Resource Identifier and this
>> has an allowance for a scheme so that we can define a different Universal
>> Resource Discovery Protocol per scheme.
>>
>> We have at least one already: HTTP
>>
>> Assuming you have this, the final piece is a standard representation of a
>> resource. i.e. If you give me a URI that you say identifies a person then
>> when I use the appropriate discovery protocol for that URI scheme I should
>> get back a resource I know how to interpret.
>>
>> (We're changing topic here again)
>>
>
> I dont think this is too far off topic.  The purpose of a URI is to create
> connections in a network.
>

No, it is to identify resources. The purpose of a URL is perhaps closer to
what you describe.


> The natural next step is, tying key value pairs to those URIs allow user
> facing technology to hide the complexity from the user and create web scale
> systems.  The sanest way to represent those key value pairs is the existing
> standard of Linked Data, choosing your preferred serializations (from
> experience I highly recommend turtle for advanced users).
>

Actually I still think the next step is standardizing on a discovery and
location protocol for each scheme otherwise we are stuck with HTTP only.

Once we have a way to go from identifier to resource we can standardize the
resource representation.


>
>
> Another option would be to create a proprietary representation, and try to
> popularize that through standardization.  I'd recommend against going down
> this route, as Linked Data is starting to gain decent traction.
>
>
>>
>>
>>>
>>> Perhaps we should start a wiki page on identity, and lay out the
>>> guidelines to achieve standardization.  This is the building block for
>>> everything we do.
>>>
>>>
>>>> * interledger transactions
>>>> * interledger linking
>>>> * standardization around Bitcoin/Ethereum
>>>> * smart contracts
>>>> * blockchain data models
>>>> * HTTP APIs
>>>>
>>>> So, there is technical standardization and political governance. Our
>>>> organization is most interested in the technical standardization, but I
>>>> struggle to see any initiative that has drawn more than a handful of
>>>> blockchain organizations to the table. Interledger seems to be the most
>>>> far along. I think we're making progress for cross-chain decentralized
>>>> identifiers (DIDs). The Linked Data Decentralized Ledger stuff is new,
>>>> but I'm speaking at a workshop on the topic day after tomorrow in Perth,
>>>> Australia and will have a better idea on what the industry is thinking
>>>> wrt. traction at that point (I don't expect much traction at present).
>>>>
>>>
>> As I said above I don't see "blockchain" or "DLT" standardization
>> happening soon. The industry is still figuring out the details and while
>> there is still a feeling that there may be undiscovered opportunities
>> around the next corner the prominent players are not going to fall over
>> themselves to collaborate on a standard.
>>
>> And, for many in the industry the belief that a DLT provides
>> interoperability is still widely held.
>>
>> Interledger is not a blockchain standardization effort. The amazing
>> developments around value recording ledgers (like Bitcoin, Ripple,
>> Ethereum) have provided the diversity of use cases to inspire a standard.
>>
>> In reality Interledger could have been developed to just work between
>> traditional private ledgers but the desire to make it interoperate with
>> public DLTs has been a key influence on the work.
>>
>>
>>>> So Adrian, to give you a data point... I can't see anything clearly yet,
>>>> but I know that we're going to be seeing more and more proposals for
>>>> standardization over the next year and we'll see how those resonate with
>>>> the community. I'm skeptical that we can do big "S" standardization and
>>>> should instead be seeking little "s" standardization. I think things
>>>> like Interledger, Chainpoint, decentralized identifiers, data models,
>>>> and HTTP APIs are all we could suggest standardization proposals for at
>>>> this point in time... and even then, they'll be rough for another year
>>>> or three before we start to see some momentum. Just my $0.02.
>>>>
>>>
>> Thanks Manu. With all this talk of standardization I worried that there
>> was something I was missing. But it seems we're all in the same boat.
>> Waiting to see where the tide takes this thing...
>>
>>
>>>
>>>> Adam, are you in Perth for WWW2017? Pindar and I will be there tomorrow
>>>> along with Tim and a few other blockchain folks. Perhaps we could sit
>>>> down and have a chat about what we see as reasonable things to pursue in
>>>> the next year or two?
>>>>
>>>> -- manu
>>>>
>>>> --
>>>> Manu Sporny (skype: msporny, twitter: manusporny, G+: +Manu Sporny)
>>>> Founder/CEO - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
>>>> blog: Rebalancing How the Web is Built
>>>> http://manu.sporny.org/2016/rebalancing/
>>>>
>>>>
>>>
>>
>
Received on Monday, 3 April 2017 23:18:44 UTC

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