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Re: Principles of Identity in Web Architecture

From: Roy T. Fielding <fielding@gbiv.com>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2021 12:20:13 -0700
Cc: W3C TAG <www-tag@w3.org>
Message-Id: <3A00D515-4644-4FFB-97DB-B679F36821EB@gbiv.com>
To: "Patrick J. Hayes" <phayes@ihmc.org>
> On Jun 14, 2021, at 8:22 PM, Patrick J. Hayes <phayes@ihmc.org> wrote:
> 
> Congratulations on mis-stating the textbook example. 
> 
> Clark Kent = Superman
> 
> but
> 
> Lois Lane believes ( Clark Kent != Superman )
> 
> And, of course, she is /wrong/. 
> 
> You see the problems you get into by not keeping a secure hold on the real notion of identity?
> 
> OK, I swear, no more from me on this topic. 
> 
> Pat

Software architecture isn't about preserving some purity of philosophical thought.
It's about understanding the needs of those caught within the system, such that
the system can be built to serve their needs (and not just your own). If the system
is designed to require "Clark Kent = Superman" in order to preserve an abstract
notion of purity, then it serves neither Clark Kent nor Superman, defeats the reason
for having a secret identity, and crushes an untold number of story lines (not to
mention mythical characters). Thus, the system must be designed to have no
equivalence between those identities even when they are the same individual.
The system has to make every effort to preserve a != even if it might be absurdly
obvious to others.

And, of course, that isn't the textbook example. It's a comic book example.
The textbook would be non-out LGBQ+, people hiding from their abusers,
employees fearful of losing a job, etc. There's no shortage of them.

So, when you see an identity system being designed, and your knee-jerk reaction
is to say that every individual can only have one identity (and thus must be designed
as such as an inherent part of that system), please understand that is not good
software design, and certainly isn't a principle we would want to adhere to.

....Roy
Received on Tuesday, 15 June 2021 19:21:02 UTC

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