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Re: Control & Identity [was Re: Teaching a 7 year old about decentalized identity/self-soverign identity ("SSI")]

From: Nathan Aw <nathan.mk.aw@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 18 Nov 2018 23:11:38 +0800
Message-ID: <CA+p-ctbLyXBqOcn3O8O7mMFhbCi6SzBNgX+tw0zgFFyjD9ogOg@mail.gmail.com>
To: daniel.hardman@evernym.com
Cc: joe@legreq.com, W3C Credentials CG <public-credentials@w3.org>
Thank you Daniel, Joe and Adrian for your great inputs.

Am sure my 7 year old cousin will understand this topic better now. Thank
you!

Nathan Aw

On Fri, 16 Nov 2018, 04:12 Daniel Hardman <daniel.hardman@evernym.com wrote:

> I wholeheartedly agree with Steven, Joe, and Adrian that "control" is
> problematic in exactly the ways pointed out. This was one of the words that
> I had in mind when I said that the definition suppresses certain details
> and is a simplification. Simplfications can be helpful for certain
> audiences, and very unhelpful for others.
>
> I wonder if we need to publish somewhare a "peeling back layers of the
> onion" discussion of SSI (or one that starts at 10K meters, then 100
> meters, then 1 meter, then 10 millimeters)--successively exploring how
> suppressed detail at the higher level needs to be added back in?
>
> On Thu, Nov 15, 2018 at 12:01 PM Joe Andrieu <joe@legreq.com> wrote:
>
>> On Wed, Nov 14, 2018, at 11:09 AM, Steven Rowat wrote:
>>
>> On 2018-11-14 9:56 AM, Daniel Hardman wrote:
>>
>>  "SSI: An identity model that allows an individual or organization
>> to control their identities, or the identity of a thing, expressed
>> through the use of decentralized identifiers and digital credentials."
>>
>>
>> A comment is that 'control' might imply more than can be delivered for
>> 'identity'; to the   degree that identity consists in what other
>> people think of us and we can't control that part. I also find the
>> 'expressed' slightly confusing (about what is expressed -- the model,
>> the identity, or the thing) and the statement seems to works fine
>> without it. So perhaps:
>>
>>
>> Yes. "Control" is an improvement over ownership, but it still misses the
>> mark in a way I haven't yet figured out how to address.
>>
>> Identity is a social construct. As Kaliya Young so elegantly presented at
>> MyData (and in her Master Thesis), identity is a triad:
>> 1. How I see myself
>> 2. How I present myself to others
>> 3. How others see me
>>
>> This is a mutually reinforcing circle. How I see myself influences how I
>> present myself to others. How we present ourselves affects how others see
>> us. How others see us affects how we see ourselves.
>>
>> We can mostly control how we affirmatively present to others--which is
>> essentially how selective presentation of Verifiable Credentials tied to
>> our own DIDs helps create a decentralized identity. However, this control
>> is itself limited in extent. Consider anyone who has tried to pass as a
>> different race or class, or transitioned from one gender to another. Our
>> physicality, our economic circumstance, even how we talk, all are areas of
>> our presentation over which we have only modest control.
>>
>> Most importantly, we can't *control* how others see us. We can't control
>> others' biases and judgments. We can't control what other information they
>> bring to the table. Unfortunately, there's not even a way to control what
>> they do with any information presented to them. We try with regulations
>> like GDPR and user asserted terms of service, but those are policies that
>> establish guidance subject to later enforcement; they don't actually
>> control the spread & use of information as much as enable punishment for
>> unacceptable distribution & use.
>>
>> On a more subtle note, we even have limited control over how we see
>> ourselves. It's hard to change your own self-perception. It's possible, but
>> also a core subject of the multi-billion self-help industry.
>>
>> I noticed this limitation on control is a lot like how relationships work.
>>
>> We don't *control* our relationships with others. For some we have no
>> choice in, e.g., parents / children, others are a mutually negotiated
>> opt-in: girlfriends, employers, teachers.  I can't *make* someone be my
>> boss, but I get to accept or reject a job offer, and I can always terminate
>> the relationship. But I can't force it to continue if I get fired. We
>> influence relationships. We can engender, nurture, or destroy
>> relationships, but we don't control them.
>>
>> Controlling our identity is similar. We don't control our identity in
>> terms of how other people see us. We influence it. And, given the asymmetry
>> in information systems, I'm happy to argue that it is right and just and
>> meet that people have greater influence over our identity than is currently
>> enabled in our digital world. That is, yes, we need more control, but at
>> the end of the day, we can never control it completely. Advocating for
>> "control" without all the caveats I just described makes it sound like SSI
>> is an unreasonable toddler demanding "Mine! Mine!". Certainly, this notion
>> of individual control is a big stumbling block to people's perceptions of
>> SSI.
>>
>> I'm not sure the concise way to reframe the basic definition, but I
>> appreciate the distinction Steven Rowat made here. Control is still tricky,
>> even if its a notable improvement over "own".
>>
>> That said, maybe it's a fine idea for the movement & ideology of SSI to
>> advocate for individual empowerment and greater control, allowing the term
>> decentralized identity to be more broadly used, independent of the
>> political conversation.
>>
>> -j
>>
>> --
>> Joe Andrieu, PMP
>>                      joe@legreq.com
>> LEGENDARY REQUIREMENTS
>>      +1(805)705-8651
>> Do what matters.
>>                    http://legreq.com
>> <http://www.legendaryrequirements.com>
>>
>>
>>
Received on Sunday, 18 November 2018 15:12:12 UTC

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