[What follows are some thoughts on usernames and identifiers. This was an extremely fun talk to put together. Many thanks as always to everyone who helped improve this talk including Chuck Mortimore and George Fletcher. – IG Sept 3 2019. If you don’t feel like reading everything, you check me out giving this talk at Identiverse in June of 2019.]
What I want to talk about
Usernames. They are the most forgotten, the most overlooked thing in our industry. They are, as we would say in the US, the “Gen X” of identity management. They show up; they do their job; they don’t get any credit. In fact, they do not get the same attention that their big brother “Password” and their little sister “Password-less” get. Instead, usernames do their job without thanks or recognition. But failing to pay attention to usernames can have major negative impacts to both B2B and B2C scenarios.
Why this talk?
been incredibly wrong about many things when it comes to identity, I have
developed a habit: I like to re-examine my believes from time to time and make
sure they are still valid. I like to root out the assumptions and the implicit
principles, hold them up to the light, and see if they are correct.
needs have driven me to think more about usernames. The very large program I am
in the midst of at Salesforce has spurred this on as well.
most of all – usernames are incredibly important, especially given how much use
they get every day. And yet we don’t often talk about them.
5 Aspects of Usernames
are 5 aspects of usernames that I’d like to discuss. These aspects overlap and,
in the intersections, there are lessons to be learned.
To grow your skills, you must know your skills. Problem is, that’s harder than it sounds, if only because we rarely carve time out of our hectic lives to do so. Might as well use these next few minutes to do so, and this post will give give a technique to help you along.
We cannot think about our skills in a vacuum. It’s a well researched fact that humans are horrible at assessing their own skills. We often inflate skills we do not have. We downplay skills we do have. Simply put, we lie to ourselves about the strength of our skills.
We need inner honesty. We need outside voices. We need feedback… in order to examine these skills we have and those we don’t.
If you want feedback, it helps to have a bit of structure to shape the conversation. If you want to evaluate your own skills, it helps you to focus if you have a bit of structure as well. So what then should that structure be?
A few months ago, I had the honor and pleasure to sit down with one of the most awesome people in Privacy, Michelle Dennedy, Chief Privacy Officer at Cisco, and record one of her Privacy Sigma Riders podcasts. We were in Austin. We were pumped to finally get together. We were heavily caffeinated. And we didn’t actually record anything… save for the last 25 secs of what was a 45 minute conversation. Fail… fail… fail!
So semi-undaunted, we tried again in November. This time we had professionals helping out… and we needed it. Good news is we actually got it recorded! Michelle and I wander about topics of ethics, empathy, how privacy and identity are related, and IDPro, the professional organization for identity management.
(Thanks to Kim Cameron for prompting me to write this down. Special thanks to Chuck Mortimore for his insight and probing questions and who helped me improve this.)
In the identity industry, there’s been a lot hype these days around self-sovereign identity. The latest permutation in the quest for user-centric identity, self-sovereign revisits the laudable goal of enabling people to be in better control of how information about them passes to enterprises and organizations (but now with added blockchain.) To be clear, increased individual control is an important goal and one that incredibly sharp people have been working on for 15+ years, going back to InfoCard and Higgins.
Before I discuss why self-sovereign has a real chance at widespread adoption, it’s important to understand why identity technologies and approaches get adopted in the first place. At least, three things are required:
People who will use the identity system
Organizations willing to consume identities from the system
Significant and relatively equivalent value for both groups
You need a lot of people to use an identity system for mainstream adoption. You get those people by providing enough value to them either in hard currency (e.g. you give them a cut of what their personal data is worth, extend discounts in lieu of currency, or free services) or in efficiencies (e.g. never fill out an account registration form ever again) or in security (e.g. your account will be harder to hack) or in privacy (e.g. your data will never be resold or your data is anonymized.)