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Limitiations of Atribute Certs - Re: Position Paper for W3C Workshop on Identity

From: Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net>
Date: Sun, 24 Apr 2011 13:14:50 +0200
Cc: "'WebID XG'" <public-xg-webid@w3.org>
Message-Id: <49D7A022-4902-45FF-AA18-0EFEF95B7C38@bblfish.net>
To: peter williams <home_pw@msn.com>


On 24 Apr 2011, at 01:47, peter williams wrote:
> 
> Arguably, pushing a signed XML blob in websso (or a mac-signed openid), or
> pulling an OAUTH record.... plays the "role" anticipated for the AA cert
> (and indeed the role played by pulling an foaf card). None of them have the
> lifecycle properties of AA, but they have the functional aspects done.
> Furthermore, websso protocols are tuned up for the web (redirects,
> auto-posts, etc); whereas signed AA blobs were not web-specific. They really
> focused on being added to the SSL handshake as an additional cert  type,
> which never happened. Lots of DoD politics around the Defense Messaging
> System "influenced" the US defense vendors fronting DoD in IETF/IESG PKI/SSL
> WGs, who duly ensured AA went nowhere. At the time,  DoD was ordained to be
> in charge of civilian infrastructure - and they had the WGs tied up to do
> their bidding. If THEY didn't want it for US, the internet standards duly
> reflected that.

That is an interesting piece of history Peter, thanks for sharing.

You need to go further in your investigation though. You argument is that
politics were involved in Dod. That of course is a magical word for "it
just did not succeed as well as we hoped". Politics is involved 
everywhere, in particular in the web. And the web if anything would be 
ever more political, because it is global. A technology spanning countries
that during most of the 20th century were the worst enemies. The web is 
available and used by competing companies, countries at war with each other,
and so on...

So you need to inquire into these properties of the web that have led to this 
astounding success, despite all the possible politics.

My claim is that the architecture of the web is fundamental to this success,
which is based on some principles based on simplicity, transparency and 
understandability among others. Perhaps a principle of building towards complexity
in a layered programatic manner. I don't know exactly. 

But clearly XML is an improvement already over binary formats that are difficult to read
and process. (The BouncyCastle Java/C# api is useful, but still really difficult to use
I find for example.)

Publishing documents that can be linked together is what creates network effects, that outweigh
clearly the differences of political powers, allowing them to agree on the logical minimum
that is needed to get to the next level.
 
If you can get yourself to think along these lines, you will see how all these old technologies
can be webified cleanly and simply (it has to be that way) in slowly introduced into the global
space. Things of course will look very different than initially anticipated.

Henry

Social Web Architect
http://bblfish.net/
Received on Sunday, 24 April 2011 11:15:20 UTC

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