Eric Norlin to the rescue

I've tried to keep my day and nighttime existence somewhat separate, but it's hard. After all, the laws of identity are the same at work and at home.

I know a number of you are following the drama that is currently unfolding in light of an early (unprompted) round of stories on ‘InfoCards’ (a code name). If people at a place like Microsoft try to do something “open” and “inclusive”, word gets around. And I've been trying to adopt what is – to my knowledge – a relatively new approach: “Innovation by blogsphere”. So it's not exactly like my ideas are top secret!

But then you end up with an investigative guy from outside the identity realm who puts the pieces together and sees a “kaboom”. Even if the initial story is more or less accurate (if profoundly incomplete), it turns into one of those cases where the other press and analysts haven't been briefed – but are none the less required to write something. So they end up drawing conclusions that in many cases can't be right. And a spiral can ensue.

Somehow we have to turn “the press” on to the things that really matter to us – by “us” I mean those who participate in this concersation – what the masterful Marc Canter of Macromedia fame calls the “emerging mega meta momma backplane”. Is this a case of blogsphere versus mainstream media?

I guess this frames the neat piece by Eric Norlin:

Cnet's got this story about Longhorn today — complete w/ a bit on InfoCards:

The company is also looking to bring back some old ideas. It's working on a technology called “info-cards” in which consumers could securely store information that is to be shared with online commerce sites. Based on the WS-* Web services architecture, info-cards will help customers manage multiple identities, Microsoft said, much as people have multiple cards in their wallet: credit cards, bank cards and membership cards.

In many ways, the idea is a throwback to Microsoft's Passport authentication program, which met with only tepid interest from e-commerce companies and others. The software maker said it is talking with partners but would not say who it might have lined up in support of the info card plan.

Ugh. I don't even work at Microsoft and this frustrates the hell outta me — reporting that can't understand something on its own terms, so it must use *bad* analogies….ie, InfoCards really *isn't* an “old idea” being “brought back.”

For a while i had this bright (or not so bright idea) that i'd go back to the original Hailstorm/Passport Press Release (yes, i have it bookmarked in my IE browser) and rewrite the thing to see if I could make it a more effective message in hindsight. But as I read this piece, I'm realizing that's somewhere beyond the town known as pointless — the preconceived stigma around msft is just too thick.

So – whadya do? Simple – make it personal.

People want to know the people behind things — and (much as its not Kim's schtick) Kim Cameron (who's behind this InfoCards thingy) is a *great* story: likeable, canadian (i think ;-), working on something open in the open, having these cool pc forum conversations, engaging with folks like me, dick hardt (sxip), drummond reed (cordance), mitchell baker (mozilla! hullo!)…..its a great story — *if* its told as Kim's Identity Work…..

now i know that kim doesn't want it to be that way – but this stuff needs a face and a person right now. Its so much harder for a reporter to write a bad story about a good person trying to do good things.

there. that's my no-sleep, early morning, blogging marketing thought for the day: Microsoft should make it personal — and trott kim out to become the face of their InfoCards stuff — and let him just be himself (no PR prepping for this one; kim should just talk and say whatever the hell he wants). Otherwise, we're gonna hear the endless droning on of passport comparisons (which is already sickening and it hasn't even really started) — and this stuff is gonna have the uphill battle from hell.

I'm not trying to be critical of the msft guys (i really like what they're trying to do over there) — but sometimes i wonder if the msft marcom machine doesn't get in the way of their own succeeding…..

(ps: i'm not sure i've ever actually met someone from that machine, btw — outside of the WagEd guys that were assigned to me when I was covering Palladium for DIDW)

Maybe, rather than putting me on tour, Eric, Doc, Craig, Mark, Dick, Drummond, Chris, Dave, Paul, Phil, Mike, Johannes, Radovan, Identity Woman, the Head Lemur, Scoble and all the rest of the Gang will be able to start telling the true story of what we are all attempting to do together.

Anyway, one thing for sure. I remain confident that in the end, the truth will out. And I mean the real truth that we are making as an industry – the Identity Big Bang.

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Kim Cameron

Work on identity.