Change will come: the present is untenable.

Gunnar Peterson at 1 Raindrop adds his own thoughts about CardSpace and Claims:

The official announcements from Microsoft on Cardspace have led to a lot of reflection in the identity community. From the core team, Mike Jones described what he considered some of the important barriers:

  • Not solving an immediate perceived problem: In my extensive experience talking with potential adopters, while many/most thought that CardSpace was a good idea, because they didn’t see it solving a top-5 pain point that they were facing at that moment or providing immediate compelling value, they never actually allocated resources to do the adoption at their site.
  • Not drop-dead simple to use: Users were often confused by their first encounter with CardSpace; many didn’t succeed at the task at hand. Indeed, many saw it as something complicated getting in the way of what they were actually there to do.

The first of these issues is one I am always trying to be cognizant of. From the 90s, a Bill Joy quote that stuck with me was when he described why JINI never took off – “we were solving problems that people did not know they had yet.” Its an every day occurrence to manage this reality-perception gap in infosec both from a business risk standpoint; as well as given the myriad of architectural opportunities for improvement (aka problems) which ones and where do you want to invest your time in strengthening your systems?

But from an industry perspective, there is a positive way to look at Bill Joy's quote – the word “yet.” Just a few years after JINI failed to launch, Web services took off like gangbusters and there is no end in sight.

As Howard Marks says in investing, sometimes being early is indistinguishable from being wrong, but that is a temporary thing, and a longer term view is in order. Jeremy Grantham (GMO) got out of tech stocks in the 90s bubble, his clients thought he was crazy and he lost half his business. Grantham called this taking career risk.

Another great value investor, Jean Marie Eveillard said about this episode – I would rather lose half my clients than lose half my client's money.

Everyone could see the tech bubble was out of control in the 1990s but very few investment managers were willing to take the career risk to themselves to protect their client's assets. 

Today everyone can see that our Internet identity technology is woefully inadequate, but very few are willing to push through comprehensive approaches towards addressing them.

Being early is not necessarily being wrong, but when coupled with a new usage paradigm, its more problematic. Farhang Kassaei discussed what the view looked like from the point of a consuming company looking to develop on Cardspace.

The Cardspace team has many talented people and freely published more in depth thinking on identity than anyone else in the industry. These lessons won't be forgotten and the future for Claims based access control is bright, in fact its just beginning. We may look back in a few years time and think of Cardspace like JINI and see tidal wave stack of CBAC/ABAC/Selectors/U-Prove that powered up huge new parts othe industry the same way Web services played out.

In fact I bet that we do. 

What's the other option? Living with a ridiculous patchwork approach to identity?

No one writes there own crypto, security people are good at getting this message across – but what do you bootstrap your crypto off of? Identity! And people write identity, authN, authZ, provisioning, from scratch all the time – where is the logic? 

Gunnar continues with an interesting reference to the behavioral economist Dan Ariely before concluding:

There is too much fraud, crime, malfeasance and threats to keep rolling out the same old same old identity. Change will come if for no other reason than the present is untenable.

Cardspace was like the first Marines trying to take the beach and some got cut down, but much has been learned in the process and the beach has to be taken; there are waves of identity and access improvement coming right now.

Rest in Peace Cardspace. Long Live Claims Based Access Control!

Published by

Kim Cameron

Work on identity.

5 thoughts on “Change will come: the present is untenable.”

  1. It's “no mans’ fault” time will come and everything will change. If Cardspace reign during 90’s it's not sure if it last forever, as the earth revolve around the sun, innovations are being made and new ideas are growing and ready to invade nor replace existing systems, trashing the old system away from the track like what Claims Based Access Control did with the Cardspace.

    Janet Trevor
    Finance Partner

  2. Yes, so true, “people want things to be better”, and in this case, there is no doubt whatsoever that this will happen. Visual identity selectors and minimal disclosure technology are both inevitable, even if a certain amount of wriggling is inevitable as they come about.

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