The History of Tomorrow’s Internet: Identity (Intro, pt. 1)

You are at the center of the future internet, so it makes sense to begin by writing about Identity. It also makes sense because many of the participants in the modern identity movement are all connected through a single paper, which actually outlined a much more expansive vision than just Identity. In fact, this paper outlines a number of the fundamentals that are now converging to form the next generation of the internet. It was rather weightily entitled, “The Augmented Social Network: Building Identity and Trust into the Next-Generation Internet,” and it outlined a vision of an internet where you were really you and an internet where algorithms and organizations would help you manage your connections with other people. It was presented at the June 2003 PlaNetwork Conference by Ken Jordan, Jan Hauser, and Steven Foster, and a number of people who have been working on Identity since were there or inspired by that presentation.

The origins of the paper actually go back to 2000 when Brad Degraf got together a bunch of technologists and progressive, ecologically minded people for a series of conversations that eventually became known as the Link Tank (which, by the way, explains why most of the references in the paper surround green social networks). I mention this because I find it interesting how some of the very earliest energy surrounding the Identity movement was tied to the real world problem of how technology can empower like-minded individuals to self-organize. Much of that ethos survives through to today. In my next post, I’ll undertake the rather daunting task of outlining some of the major identity projects today and how they are related to each other both technically and socially.

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