Sunday, March 18, 2007

rfi User-Centric Identity and What Craig Burton Said


Actually, he didn't say it to me. He was paraphrased by Doc Searles ( as saying the following:
  • "Craig Burton says it's the nature of infrastructure to commoditize itself and that it's the nature of commodities to ubiquitize as well. That's why he believes every company playing the infrastructure game in the computer and networking business needs an open-source strategy....
  • "That infrastructure is essentially an underlying condition that's easily conceived as a place. Bob calls the condition "connectivity". Larry Lessig calls it the Net's "end to end" architecture. Craig Burton has my favorite description for the place itself: a hollow sphere in which every point is visible to every other point across an empty space in the middle -- a vacuum where the virtual distances are zero. Fittingly, we conceive of the Net in place-like terms. We have "sites" and "locations" with "addresses" that are "on" the Net.
  • But here's the problem: what Bob and Larry and Craig talk about is obvious to us, but not to the majority of netizens to whom the Net is a remote place one "visits" by "dialing" there. The place-like nature of the Net is also not obvious to the telecom and cable backbone companies that still think of the whole thing as a distribution system -- a concept they share with the entertainment business (and, regrettably, many lawmakers)."
Me again: In the user-centric Web 2.0 paradigm, Burton's "points" are us. His "hollow sphere" is the medium through which points point to other points and thereby fuse into communities. Mutuality is built on visibility across those points. Heterogeneity in the IdM universe clouds that visibility with distracting complexities. But abstraction filters away the complexities and delivers the simplicity upon which points frame their personal views of the metasystem and coalesce into galaxies of tighter mutuality.