Memories of Kim Cameron

Reification. I learned that word from Kim. In the immediate next breath he said from the stage that he was told not everyone knew what reify meant and that he would use a more approachable word: “thingify.” And therein I learned another lesson from Kim about how to present to an audience.

My memories of Kim come in three phases: Kim as Legend, Kim as Colleague, and Kim as Human, and with each phase came new things to learn.

My first memories of Kim were of Kim as Legend. I think the very first was from IIW 1 (or maybe 2 – the one in Berkeley) at which he presented InfoCard. He owned the stage; he owned the subject matter. He continued to own the stage and the subject matter for years…sometimes the subject matter was more concrete, like InfoCard, and sometimes it was more abstract, like the metaverse. But regardless, it was enthralling.

At some point something changed… Kim was no longer an unapproachable Legend. He was someone with whom I could talk, disagree, and more directly question. In this phase of Kim as Colleague, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask him private follow-up questions to his presentation. Leaving aside my “OMG he’s talking to me” feelings, I was blown away by his willingness to go into depth of his thought process with someone who didn’t work with him. He was more than willing to be challenged and to discuss the thorny problems in our world.

Somewhere in the midst of the Kim as Colleague phase something changed yet again and it is in this third phase, Kim as Human, where I have my most precious memories of him. Through meeting some of his family, being welcomed into his home, and sharing meals, I got to know Kim as the warm, curious, eager-to-laugh person that he was. There was seemingly always a glint in his eye indicating his willingness to cause a little trouble. 

The last in-person memory I have of him was just before the pandemic lockdowns in 2020. I happened to be lucky enough to be invited to an OpenID Foundation event at which Kim was speaking. He talked about his vision for the future and identity’s role therein. At the end of his presentation, I and others helped him down the steep stairs off of the stage. I held onto one of his hands as we helped him down. His hand was warm.

The Future of Digital Identity: 2020 – 2030

Some on the next 10-ish years in identity management.

[This was originally written in December 2019: pre-pandemic, pre-US presidential election, pre-George Floyd. Truly, it was written in the “Before Times.” I thought about updating this before posting but that felt wrong – somehow dishonest. So here is the lightly touched up text of my talk which was given first in Tokyo at the OpenID Foundation Summit and then again as part of the all-virtual Identiverse. If you want to skip the text and go straight to the video, you can

My deepest thanks go to Naohiro Fujie and Nat Sakimura for prompting me to write this, Andi Hindle for his feedback. – IG 11/24/2020]

It is my honor to present to you today. Today, it is my privilege to talk to you about my vision of the future of digital identity. When Naohiro-san asked me to speak on this topic, I was both honored and panicked. In my daily role, I focus on a 12 to 18 month time frame. My primary task is to help my stakeholders and, yes I have a multi-year vision, but I primarily focus on how my team can execute in the next few months to help those stakeholders. I don’t, as a matter of my daily routine, think about the future.

So I was a little panicked. I am not a futurist. I am no longer an industry analyst. I am just a practitioner trying to help where I can. How then should I talk about the next ten years of our industry?

I can name 4 ways to think about the future and with your permission I will briefly try all 4.

Looking at the Past to See the Future

One way to talk about the future is to look back at past predictions and see how they fared. I’ll choose 3 predictions:

  • The Need for Password Vaulting
  • SAML is Dead
  • The Year of PKI (Again…Still)
Continue reading The Future of Digital Identity: 2020 – 2030

The Most Forgotten Thing In Identity Management

[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?

Having 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.

Customer 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.

But 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

There are 5 aspects of usernames that I’d like to discuss. These aspects overlap and, in the intersections, there are lessons to be learned.

Usernames:

  • Are not a secret
  • Must be classified as public data
  • Must be memorable
  • Must be unique
  • Must be recoverable
Continue reading The Most Forgotten Thing In Identity Management

Finding your secret strengths

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.

Evaluating Skills

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?

I offer up this very simple model.

Continue reading Finding your secret strengths