W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-credentials@w3.org > March 2021

Re: The "self-sovereign" problem (was: The SSI protocols challenge)

From: Taylor Kendal <taylor@learningeconomy.io>
Date: Tue, 23 Mar 2021 10:57:33 -0600
Message-ID: <CA+xGRY+2N6eGfs9yVc872AJuj_FCeWEp32CfQAKj9OU178yhSQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: Steve Capell <steve.capell@gmail.com>
Cc: Heather Vescent <heathervescent@gmail.com>, "W3C Credentials CG (Public List)" <public-credentials@w3.org>
Sending appreciation for this thoughtful and probing thread --
without question, it takes engineers *and* poets to create a world worth
living in. I too have been wrestling with SSI
the past few years, and this thread has added a useful new neural node to
my often foggy mental map :)

w/ gratitude,


On Mon, Mar 22, 2021 at 2:32 PM Steve Capell <steve.capell@gmail.com> wrote:

> +1
> The identity bit is challenging.  On the other hand, I’ve never had a
> problem selling the idea of verifiable credentials
> Steven Capell
> Mob: 0410 437854
> On 23 Mar 2021, at 5:37 am, Heather Vescent <heathervescent@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> I know folks on this list love to be precise in their language... ah,
> gotta love the engineer's mind. But I want to provide a futurist/poet's
> perspective.
> As Manu wrote, and many of us know first-hand, there are socio-cultural
> issues with the term "self-sovereign." It has baggage specifically from a
> western individualist libertarian perspective. Some people use
> "self-sovereign" with these assumptions attached, others fight against
> those assumptions. The general business consensus is that that term
> (self-sovereign) is too charged, and the interpretations people bring to
> it, get in the way of communicating the benefits. (See Microsoft's first
> whitepaper using Decentralized Identity & aside: I would have changed the
> title of the Comprehensive Guide to SSI but it was already out there in the
> world.)
> "Decentralized identity" is a *better* choice. Others use "self-asserted,"
> I think this has some of the same socio-cultural issues that
> "Self-sovereign" has. (I did a survey asking specifically this question
> about a year ago, but I have not done a detailed data analysis, so these
> are off the cuff comments.) IMHO, the term that will describe the
> technology we are creating (SSI/DI/SA/DIDs/VCs) hasn't been coined yet. And
> even more controversial, I doubt it will be coined by anyone in this
> community or an early adopter.
> Why? Because we are swimming in a world of biases - biases because we are
> co-creators of the vision and technology of SSI. And we are hyper technical
> in this community, which is not reflective of society at large.
> I don't think this is really a big deal. Use whichever term you like with
> the appropriate caveats until the defining term comes along. Maybe take a
> moment to get real with yourself on why you like that particular term. A
> lot of people like the unconscious/challenging authority attributions of
> "self sovereign."
> IMHO, making what we are doing/creating in this community more accessible
> to outsiders, with their fresh view unadulterated by our years of
> philosophical discussion is what will give us clarity on the potential
> impact of our work here - which may lead to a better socio-cultural verbal
> identifier.
> -H
> On Mon, Mar 22, 2021 at 9:22 AM victorsyntez <victorsyntez@gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> +100  to this perspective, especially #3. Many Asian countries and a
>> number of European countries consider community stability more important
>> than individual freedoms. We can't expect them to agree with the notion
>> that privacy and self-sovereignity of the digital identity is more
>> important that government oversight of the digital identity.
>> Victor.
>> Sent from my Galaxy
>> -------- Original message --------
>> From: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>
>> Date: 2021-03-22 6:32 a.m. (GMT-08:00)
>> To: public-credentials@w3.org
>> Subject: The "self-sovereign" problem (was: The SSI protocols challenge)
>> On 3/21/21 11:57 PM, Adrian Gropper wrote:
>> > Are we, as a community, being shy in using self-sovereign to describe
>> our
>> > perspective?
>> My response below is for people that feel like the question above has an
>> easy
>> answer. I expect the following to be misconstrued or quoted out of
>> context,
>> which is sad, but here goes; everything below is said without any value
>> judgements.
>> Remember that not all nations and people of the world view
>> "self-sovereign" as
>> a purely positive thing. I'm not shy about using it, just very careful,
>> and
>> tend to avoid it as it tends to distract focused conversations.
>> To speak to at least three overly-broad categories, self-sovereign is not
>> viewed as an entirely positive thing among:
>> 1. Authoritarian-leaning groups.
>> 2. Non-authoritarian sovereign governments.
>> 3. Non-western societies where the importance of the
>>    individual is not placed above the importance
>>    of the community.
>> I don't think that anyone is here to support #1 above. #2 and #3 are why I
>> tend to be careful about using the word "self-sovereign". It's useful when
>> speaking to others that understand the nuance. It can be thoroughly
>> confusing
>> or shut down conversations with those that don't... and even when educated
>> about the nuances, the message doesn't land well with the latter two
>> groups.
>> I end up doing far more damage control when the word "self-sovereign" is
>> included than if I just stick to "verifiable credentials and decentralized
>> identifiers".
>> -- manu
>> --
>> Manu Sporny - https://www.linkedin.com/in/manusporny/
>> Founder/CEO - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
>> blog: Veres One Decentralized Identifier Blockchain Launches
>> https://tinyurl.com/veres-one-launches
> --
> Heather Vescent <http://www.heathervescent.com/>
> Co-Chair, Credentials Community Group @W3C
> <https://www.w3.org/community/credentials/>
> President, The Purple Tornado, Inc <https://thepurpletornado.com/>
> Author, The Secret of Spies <https://amzn.to/2GfJpXH> (Available Oct 2020)
> Author, The Cyber Attack Survival Manual
> <https://www.amazon.com/Cyber-Attack-Survival-Manual-Apocalypse/dp/1681886545/> (revised,
> Dec 2020)
> Author, A Comprehensive Guide to Self Sovereign Identity
> <https://ssiscoop.com/>
> @heathervescent <https://twitter.com/heathervescent> | Film Futures
> <https://vimeo.com/heathervescent> | Medium
> <https://medium.com/@heathervescent/> | LinkedIn
> <https://www.linkedin.com/in/heathervescent/> | Future of Security Updates
> <https://app.convertkit.com/landing_pages/325779/>
Received on Tuesday, 23 March 2021 16:57:58 UTC

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