COMsumers

Unbound Spiral: ID Scenarios

January 22, 2003 02:08 PM

The objective of this posting is to stimulate a conversation around Digital Identity some 5-10 years into the future exploring the following questions.

“Will whatever tips in for individual identity primarily serve commercial interests or will it also serve public and community interests?"

This scenario matrix is intended to stimulate a discussions of plausible alternate environments in which “digital identity” evolves. Individually or as a group we sometimes use a matrix to stimulate slice of life stories five to ten years into the future. This document is a sketch. It provides a starting point for creating the stories.

Note: I'm breaking my usual rules for scenarios, for sharing without context and providing a draft document unfinished. However, without group action and context; it's really not worth doing in more detail. I did it because my sense is the "technologists" tend to think about single point futures. I did it because papers like Andre Durand's (is current and illustrative to the structured world view) are authoritative, and yet I never see in them the type of adaptive profile exchanges that I see on Ryze or as a result of allconsuming.net. To really think though digital identity the net should be cast wide. Anyone one of these futures could be right. Similarly all of them could be wrong.

Scenar1.jpg CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
Please check out the detail and explanation of logic and send me comments.

When you elaborate on a scenario, it starts to become a real possibility. Similarly when you understand the systemic underpinnings, the economic, social etc logics tend to emerge. This makes them both challenging and plausible. In your mind rehearse several possible futures suspending your disbelief while doing so. Later, again reliving today, perhaps you can identify better strategies and responses to each of them. By developing strategies and then stretching our imaginations to cover each of the possible scenarios we hope to develop a “strategy for all seasons” that redefines how we think about digital identities. Classically scenarios aim to minimize risk. These scenarios are intended to stimulate learning as well. Think also about the size of organization. Will small - medium organizations want the same solution as the largest? How would strategies for different types of firms be different? How would the governments strategy play out in each of these worlds? Voters? <u>Little Background: What Are Scenarios . . . and What Are They Not?</u> Scenarios are alternative environments in which today’s decisions may be played out. They are not predictions. Nor are they strategies. Instead they are descriptions of different futures specifically designed to highlight the risks and opportunities involved in specific strategic issues. Scenarios help to overcome anxiety about the lack of hard evidence regarding the future. Scenarios are not predictions. We cannot predict the future. The point is not to gather evidence for some induction about a most probable future. The point is rather to entertain a number of different possibilities to better make reasoned choices among them. Be prepared to look down the cellar stairs and smell utopia. Be certain that something else will emerge. We cannot know beforehand what the future will hold. Still we can see today several trends that, moving on their current courses will influence and shape digital identities over the next ten years. Examples: Ø Digital Rights Management (RIAA, FCC) Ø WiFi – VOIP – Stupid Networks – Mesh Networks (technology) Ø Evolution of Databases, platforms, software, interfaces Ø Online Social Networking, e-mail, IM, Video, etc. II. The Logic of the Scenario Matrix Scenarios are typically generated from a long list of important uncertainties, and the vast number of combinatorial possibilities of various values for various variables. Thus the trick is understanding and prioritizing around uncertainty, creating affinity clusters and mapping alternate matrices. The purpose is learning. Typically you have several different candidates. However settling on an infinite number is not useful. Illustration for Digital Identity. <img alt="Scenar1.jpg" src="http://www.henshall.com/blog/archives/images/Scenar1.jpg" width="561" height="421" border="0" /> The vertical axis of this matrix has received much debate in the last few years and is well known. It asks will we see an acceleration to open source systems, movements and structures --- like the Eric Raymond promotes in “The Cathedral and the Bazaar”, unleashing new creativity and leveraging the public nature of the internet commons; eg Creative Commons L Lessig, IDCommons Davis, etc. Or will we find ourselves locked ever more firmly into closed systems, whether orchestrated by organizations, or governments. Rules and legality expand, hierarchical systems or fiefdoms prevail. We sense this axis also includes trade-offs in globalization, and information. In an open world, information wants to be free (Kevin Kelly). In a closed world, information is controlled, owned and what you can do with it is proscribed. In the bottom right we have a world structured not that differently from today. While in the bottom left, fights over information have resulted in fights over social liberty and mob actions. The systems are no longer secure or operable. The horizontal axis reflects net behavior and works to address values and types of communication and exchanges. On the left side of the axis we find an outpouring of feeling, emotion and interests. New affinity groups and tribes can form rapidly. They form around chaotic definitions, emergent questions, real-time activities, there is little negotiation here. It is more supportive, the digital identities shades of gray rather than black or white. This is the social cooperative, collaborative end of the spectrum where there is the potential for good or value in everyone. This contrasts with the right side of this axis, where individuals are being led by technology, and self-interest, trying to keep up and remain part of an accelerating transformation. More about responding to special interests, power groups etc. it is less about what you know or who you know, it is about who you are tied to and your score. On the right you are rewarded for not speaking up, reputations are black and white. If that seems harsh consider how the majority think about digital identity and technology. Technology traditionally has been black n white, bits and bytes. As a consumer I’ve accepted cookies, profiling, CRM with solutions more and more centralized and highly structured. By contrast as our understanding of “Complexity Science” has improved we have also begun to identify the difficulty of scaling some of these traditional solutions. Nowhere has this been more telling that in the telecommunications industry. David Isenberg’s Paper “Stupid Networks” and many more recent writings have shown how intelligence is and economically will move to the edge of the network. While this impacts on systems, as yet, it hasn’t stimulated a conversation about human profiles, profiles written in and with human voices. In the physical world we amend our profiles everyday. We may dress differently, we may join new action groups, we may leave friends behind. We may also run across different social networks. We may need to be wary of systems that fail to adapt as fast as we can. So on the left we will see profiles created by us nurtured by our social interactions. As we build them collectively they represent social capital. Where as on the right, we will find an abundance of fragmented profiles others have collected and assumed about us. These are economic profiles kept primarily by corporates for competitive advantage. Credit profiles are an extension of this. We know that both have a role. What we fail to understand is how our online relationships and society is evolving when “information is power”. Think about these scenarios. Think about the roles of consumers. This axis has a lot to do with how people want to interact and how the next socializing and communications revolution of the Internet takes hold. So now looking at the scenarios and the different challenges they provide for digital identity. <i<u>>· Will Digital Identity accelerate or frustrate the evolution of the web socially and economically? · Will the commons reflect abundance and generosity or will competition and rules capture it for the minority? · How will consumer values influence the success or failure of different digital identity strategies? </i></u> Typically we create a story - a slice of life, modelling activity and exchanges in that world. It may be a TV show a documentary, a story, etc. It is less important how we got there than that the story for that quadrant is plausible, that we can imagine the possibility. Your challenge is to create different stories for each... <b>Land of Elephants: </b> (bottom right) ·Federated Servants ·Closed Systems This is a world in which society is increasingly controlling on the individual level. Digital Identity is a stick, accumulated reputations a requirement for doing business. Corporate behemoths consolidate their positions locking in consumers, it’s difficult to change camps. Consumers are tracked, scores are black and white. Consumers are in or out. The costs of transfer are high. Complementary corporate consolidate their positions by leveraging their employees identities. Those that remain working for large corporates, bought by benefits. These same companies use their corporate profiles to drive down costs further for their employees. As they cut cost, hold salaries and shed admin workers seemless just in time manufacturing emerges with new mass customization offerings. To get the new and lower costs, consumers sell out on their profiles, empowering the largest corporates with ever more information. The digital content providers have their way, the two- way web remains a pipedream. This potentially becomes a story… etc. etc.

Comments (1)

the image is unreadable...

Posted by: Ross Mayfield at January 23, 2003 12:58 AM