Jamie on the Asphalt metaphor

I just saw that Jamie Lewis has posted this set of links to articles on DIDW by Between the LinesPhil Becker's keynote, the discussion of federation standards, John Shewchuk's keynote and Jamie's Wednesday keybnote.

I look forward to Jamie's presentations for their panoramic scope – a rare pleasure – and invariably find myself on the edge of my seat waiting for the pithy new metaphor he has discovered.

And this year, it was the idea that the current debates over protocols deserve about the same degree of interest as do arguments over the chemical composition of asphalt amongst those building a network of highways for the nation. Even here, it isn't the roads themselves that are the final product. It's the “neat cars and trucks” that run on them.

Today's post adds clarification to some of the coverage:

I … want to clarify one thing that Chris Jablonski said in his post summarizing my keynote. Chris summarized something I said this way:

However, he cautioned that achieving meaningful implementation by the end of the decade will depend on how long the vendors want to fight over building the road (standard framework) as opposed to building neat cars and trucks (more proprietary solutions).

Actually, the “neat cars and trucks” aren’t proprietary systems in the analogy I was using. My point was this: Arguments over the chemical composition of asphalt (the protocols necessary to build the standard framework) is of little value to customers who need a solution to a very real problem. What customers want is products and services that solve their identity problems (the cars and trucks that actually help people get somewhere) but that work in an interoperable system (cars that run on the public road). So in the analogy, I was trying to encourage the vendors to quit arguing over how to build the road, settle on what asphalt formula we’ll use, and focus instead on building the interoperable solutions that solve a real problem, which customers will want to buy.

And in that light, the interoperability profile for Web-based SSO between Liberty and the WS-* frameworks that Sun and Microsoft announced today are certainly encouraging. More on that later.

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Kim Cameron

Work on identity.