The Identity Mashup held last week at the Harvard Law School lived up to its name. There were an endless number of nooks and crannies and people with different trajectories talking and braintorming both in and between the sessions.
A lot of important things happened. I've already mentioned one key development: the anouncement of an Open Source Identity Selector project (OSIS). If you are new to the identity conversation, an Identity Selector is the steering wheel of user-centric identity – the way people select the identity (visualized through what we call an Information Card) appropriate to a given context. OSIS will create an equivalent to what CardSpace does on Windows. It's therefore an essential piece if we want to build an identity metasystem that reaches across platforms and devices,
But there's another deeply significant development: Red Hat, which lays claim to being “the world's most trusted provider of Linux and open source technology”, will be one of the key participants.
Why is this so important? First, because it helps bring us closer to a metasystem which truly reaches across all platforms. Second, because RedHat's participation is emblematic in conveying the idea that Information Cards really represent an open technology and a rallying point for the industry. Web sites can now add Information Cards and be confident they won't be accused of herding their customers towards any given platform.
As Pete Rowley said in explaining Red Hat's decision to participate, “With so many companies collaborating on the project it is clear that this is an important piece of the identity puzzle and that the industry recognizes the opportunity to work together for the common good.
“The open source movement is much more than just Linux and we're seeing significant interest from customers and the community in building a common framework for identity interchange on the internet.
“Like TCP/IP – having a common framework takes more than a standard to encourage adoption – there must be an express need and a community of use to embrace and extend – and with the number of folks worldwide now sharing conversations, there's an express need for easily confirming that you are conversing with who you think you are.
“Seeing the democratization of content take place on the Internet I am convinced that with the advent of ubiquitous user-centric identity systems there will be a sea change in the services offered and the way we use the Internet.”
Wow. I love this guy. I think I can hear the identity big bang starting just beyond the horizon. Hold on to your seats.