DISFLUENCY | Edge.org

[Some encouragement for amateurs and generalists –PR]

See on Scoop.itScience and Sanity

We’ve shown that disfluency leads you to think more deeply, as I mentioned earlier, that it forms a cognitive roadblock, and then you think more deeply, and you work through the information more comprehensively. But the other thing it does is it allows you to depart more from reality, from the reality you’re at now.

See on www.edge.org

Conversations That Matter

via Dave Pollard’s blog, how to save the world.

October 30, 2012

Conversations That Matter

Dave Pollard

conversation by pam o'connell

painting “In Deep Conversation” by Irish artist Pam O’Connell

When I was younger, most of my waking life was consumed in conversations. In my work life, I learned that most learning occurs, and most decisions are made, in small group conversations, often ad hoc. I was persuaded that good conversation skills were the key to good relationships. I believed, in short, that conversation mattered.

Now that I’m no longer working, and rarely required to converse with anyone, I’ve come to believe that, as GB Shaw put it, “the biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place”. In retrospect, I would guess that most of the conversations I was party to over the years were incompetently conducted and largely a waste of time. The conversants, for the most part, had already decided what they believed or what needed to be done, and were just looking for reassurance. Or they were talking to hear themselves think, and not listening to anyone else. There was almost never any real exchange of information, or ideas, or perspectives, despite the earnest attempts of the conversants to convey these things. Our languages are not very good at that, and the complicity of creatures that make up what we believe to be “us”, as individuals, rarely allows our minds — their minds really — to focus more than a small bit of our attention on anything not directly relevant to the needs of the moment. And our culture does its best to obfuscate and distort the meaning of words and the events of the day, so that most of what we manage to convey is probably lies anyway.

So lately I have chosen to converse less, even in the company of others. I begin conversations less often, say less, and become restless with what others are trying to say more quickly. I have become a more sensuous, perceptual and intuitive person and less conceptual and verbal. I would rather just be with the people I love than talk with them.

When I meet someone new who intrigues me, someone (male or female) I might like to spend time with in some shared activity other than talking — or perhaps doing nothing more than just being with them in some beautiful place — I now try to begin, like a feral creature, with non-verbal communication. Nature has equipped us, since the aeons before our newly-invented languages, with a very powerful set of tools to communicate without words. Body language, eye and facial movements, pheromones, a host of (to us) subtle means of conveying what we feel without saying a word. There are a million ways to smile at someone, to smile with someone, and our bodies are very adept at translating their meaning, as long as our heads don’t get in the way. Few joys can compare, for example, with flirting wordlessly with someone and knowing you have made a connection. Alas, in our desperate, lonely modern world flirting is too often seen as intentional, a lead-in to something serious, rather than just play, pleasure, joy, something done for its own sake.

Eventually, however, it is likely that I am going to have to engage the people whose company I like, or think I might like, in conversation. Our first conversation with someone is almost always precedent-setting: if it’s small-talk, or appreciative, or attentive, or inviting, the other person will probably come to expect more of the same from us. So the one who opens the conversation is now more or less obliged, committed, to provide more of the same, and if that opening was banal, or inauthentic, or hyperbolic, or aggressive, it does not bode well for the future of that relationship to be equal, honest and interesting.

In recent years, as someone with relatively high self-esteem and with nothing to lose for trying, I’ve tended to open conversations with an invitation. That’s true whether my tentative interest in them is intellectual, romantic, collaborative, or aesthetic. Being forward carries the risk of a direct ‘no’ reply to your invitation (or worse, an apologetic, ambiguous reply intended to be a ‘no’). But my sense is that we’re pretty quick deciders, we humans, and that by the time I utter the invitation the recipient’s answer is already decided, so preceding it with a bunch of polite and/or flattering blather is unlikely to change anything, and might create false understandings or expectations.

Lately I’ve wondered whether there might be a better way to start a meaningful conversation with someone. That has got me asking: What are the “conversations that matter”, if most of the conversations that consume our lives do not?

I’ve recently returned from a series of events at which I’ve been extolling the use of the Group Works deck, a set of 91 cards representing the characteristics, or “patterns” of exceptionally effective “group processes” — meetings, conferences, collaborative and deliberative events — that an event facilitator or participant can invoke or draw upon. It’s occurred to me that the same qualities that make for a great meeting — qualities like a great location, inquiry, advance research and preparation, playfulness, letting go, listening, openness, improvisation etc. — could also be the qualities of a great conversation. But, again, bringing these qualities to the conversation is, likewise, only worth pursuing if the conversation is one that matters.

To try to answer this question — what are the “conversations that matter”? — I’ve been reviewing and reflecting upon the conversations in my own life that have made the greatest difference — those that brought about a major, sustained change in what is done, what is believed, or what is understood by one or more participants in the conversation.

My analysis of these conversations suggests that “conversations that matter” tend to be one (or more) of five types, each of which has an essential question that the conversation generally turns on (the cards pictured above each type are from the Group Works deck — more about them later in the article):

1. Existential (Connecting) Conversations / What Do You Really Care About, and Why?: Not who do you care about, what do you care about deeply, with all your heart, to the point it drives you, makes you crazy, makes you leap tall buildings, commands your attention, affects your behaviour, profoundly informs your worldview, makes you ache so much that sometimes you cannot bear to think about it, or witness it? And why do you care so much?

It takes courage to have a conversation about such things, since we often can’t control our feelings about them, and that lack of control makes us vulnerable, defensive, self-protective. But what could be more important to talk about? These are the things that define us, and an understanding of them can clue us in to who we really are. To ask “what do you care about?” is to ask “who are you?”.

Ask me what I care about most and I’d say, I think, it’s the needless suffering of all the creatures of this world (including humans), and the needless and disastrous desolation of our planet. I know I can’t change it, I know no one can stop it and that it will get worse until our civilization collapses, and that no one is to blame. But knowing this doesn’t make me care any less about it. We can’t control or change what we care about. I care about this because I can see, sense, intuitively know that when we lived in the rainforest, for the first million years of our species’ existence, we had everything we needed for an easy, joyful, sustainable life and so did the rest of all life on Earth. I’m filled with grief that we lived an idyllic, harmonious life, and for whatever reason (the reason no longer matters) we abandoned it, destroyed it. Now we are facing the terrible consequences.

I care, too, about beauty and love and wild places and play and peacefulness. I can’t get enough of these things. I pursue them, always and everywhere. I have always cared about these things and they have driven me all my life, made me who I am, who I always have been. I care about them because when they’re present — when I’m present — time stops, and the grey disconnecting veil through which I see the whole world from inside my head lifts. I become another person, free, my true self, connected with and at one with and part of all life on Earth. Real.

2. Intentional (Challenging) Conversations / What Do You Most Want (to happen or to achieve in your life), and Why? If it’s unlikely to happen (the big lottery win) or likely impossible to achieve (the perfect happily-ever-after relationship/life), what is it that keeps you dreaming about it, what is the cost of your obsession with it (lack of presence, wasted life, lifelong dissatisfaction), and what would it take to let it go? And if it is realizable or achievable, why is it so important to you, and how might you free up your time and energy from the urgent needs of the moment to begin to begin to achieve it?

While we can’t control or change what we care about, we may be able to change what we want. We may be able to stop hopelessly wanting what we can probably never have (despite the media’s relentless want-creation and perfection-is-possible-and-desirable machine). And despite Pollard’s Law of Human Behaviour (the “merely important” things always get back-burnered in favour of what’s urgent, and then, in our exhaustion, in favour of what’s easy and/or fun), we do have the capacity to simplify our lives, reduce the number of urgent tasks we face each day, and the amount of stuff we have that we have to look after, so we can get around, at last, to realizing or achieving what we really want. Or, if that’s impossible, stop wanting it and move on with our lives.

Ask me what I want and one of my responses would likely be “a life without stress” (since I handle stress badly, physically and emotionally). It’s a foolish, impossible desire, even in my relatively idyllic retirement, and I would be wise to let it go, and instead pursue practices that increase my resilience to stress. Another response would likely be, perhaps ironically, I want to know what I really want. Since collapsing into retirement I have taken up a lot of hobbies, taken on a lot of projects, and done some very satisfying work. But I’m still not happy that I’m fulfilling my purpose in this world, and a lot of the things I think I should do, or should want to do, I somehow know I don’t want to do (though I’m not sure why). Get me in a conversation about this and I’ll have your head spinning. But for me, at least, it would be a conversation that mattered.

3. Learning (Exploring, Capacity Building) Conversations / What Information, Ideas, Understandings, Insights and Perspectives Can You (We) Offer (Share)? Learning is an iterative process. True exchange of knowledge and meaning occurs interactively and contextually. “What do you mean by that? Are you saying… If that’s true then… But what about…” — this back-and-forth struggle for coherence and appreciation is how true communication occurs. As TS Eliot put it, “Trying to learn to use words… every attempt is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure, because one has only learnt to get the better of words for the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which one is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate with shabby equipment always deteriorating in the general mess of imprecision of feeling.” Many of us blog principally because it enables us to have learning conversations with ourselves (with a little help from our readers). For many, reading is a learning conversation with the writer. And the best learning conversations are not debates or competitions for nods of agreement, but offers — of information, ideas, understandings, insights and perspectives. The point of the offer is not to get attention or appreciation, but to help.

Conversations, if the space for learning is held open by the participants, enables learning through exploration in a way other forms of learning cannot. Exploration (“What if…”) gives participants permission to stray from the script of the text, and it is in this way that unexpected connections and discoveries are made, and powerful collective learning results. And conversations can be interspersed with demonstration: “Let me show you… Now you try it… Why do you do it that way; what if instead… I don’t understand… Try this… — improving the capacities of both teachers and students, while often blurring the line between them.

These days, as I’ve written often on these pages, my beliefs and insights on the things I think important are so radically different from, and unsettling to, most people’s thinking that I have few opportunities for totally candid conversations about them. So my learning conversations with others are often of the “just help them get started” variety. By suggesting readings, providing factual information, telling stories, I can subversively impart radically different perspectives and understandings by allowing other conversants to draw their own conclusions. The games that I’m working to develop now, on the Gift Economy, and on Preparing for Collapse, are really just a framework for Learning Conversations about these subjects.

The conversations from which I learn the most are those that include masterful conversationalists, people who can (seemingly) effortlessly and unobtrusively steward and shepherd the conversation to make it more relevant, succinct, focused, articulate, and effective at its purpose. More about that later in this article.

inviting conv cards

4. Inviting (Engaging, Playing, Creating) Conversations / What Do You Like to Do? What Are You Really Good At? We all love to play, and conversations that invite others to play, that engage them and encourage them to do what they enjoy, things that stimulate their creativity, imagination and sense of humour, open us and them to the unpredictable products of any joyful activity that draws on our energies and passion. Invention and innovation. Enduring, creative partnerships. Works of art. Love.

Invitation is itself an art form, and the best Inviting Conversations are usually preceded by thorough research and carefully crafted. If the invitation is misrepresented or inauthentic, it will be a quick conversation-stopper. Paradoxically, we spend so much of our lives doing things we think we must do, that we are often unaware of the things we like doing, and the things that we’re good at doing, and Inviting Conversations can enable their discovery. These are often conversations where the non-verbal “conversation” is at least as important as what is actually said. Such conversations often benefit from the use of tools that allow visual expression of what is said or meant, to complement the verbal record.

In recent years, as I start to take my importance, and myself, less seriously, this has become my favourite type of conversation. Clever banter is not small-talk, it is a form of play that takes practice to become skilled at. My way of making new friends is to explore with people what they like and what they’re good at, and if these are things I also enjoy, figure out what we might both like, or what we might together offer the world, and use that as the invitation to both an activity and a relationship.

5. Problem-Solving (Collaborating) Conversations / How Might We Deal With or Respond to (a specific issue, challenge or predicament)? Of the five types, this is probably the most difficult type of conversation to facilitate and enable. This is because few people understand that most modern ‘problems’ are actually complex predicaments, and that simplistic solutions (despite what politicians, consultants, business ‘leaders’ and others try to tell us) rarely ‘fix’ them, at least not for long. In such cases it is usually more effective to look for ways to adapt to the predicament, approaches to deal with it, and mitigate its worst effects.

We all love a challenge, and conversations that have a purpose as pointed and explicit as solving a specific problem are often enticing. What is more difficult is facilitating such conversations in such a way that the tendency to oversimplify, create false dichotomies and choices, and rush to conclusions (who will do what by when) is reined in, and the true nature of the problem (and why it has resisted previous efforts to ‘solve’ it) have become clearer. Understanding  the true nature of a complex problem (predicament) and discovery of possible approaches to deal with it generally co-emerge from thoughtful, open, genuine inquiry through conversation. Getting all the voices in the conversation heard, ensuring the relevant information is at hand, getting participants to see things from different perspectives, and encouraging stories that help clarify and level knowledge and bring appreciation of the issues complexity, require patience from the group and self-discipline from participants.

These days I don’t engage in many Problem-Solving Conversations. Because they consumed so much of my work life, when I retired from paid work I also resolved to retire from such conversations. Much of the work of the Transition movement is conversations of this type, however, so my focus now is learning (slowly) how to be better at facilitating them to avoid the landmines so many of my work-life conversations encountered.

•     •     •     •     •

So how do we engage in such “conversations that matter”? Baldly asking the essential questions corresponding to each of the five types of conversations above, especially of someone you don’t know well, might well produce a defensive or even angry response. One possible way to broach an Existential, Intentional, or Inviting conversation might be to ask (especially of people with busy schedules): If you had one extra hour each day, what would you spend it doing? Their answer to this question might hint at what they really care about, want, or like, and precipitate a conversation on that subject.

What is most needed to make Conversations that Matter more effective, I think, is better facilitation of such conversations. That’s where the Group Works deck I mentioned earlier comes in. Although it was designed (by a group of 50 people, of which I was one) to help meeting and other “group process” facilitators design and conduct such activities more effectively, I’ve realized that Conversations That Matter are really just a form of “group process”, and while most such conversations are ad hoc and do not have appointed facilitators, there is no reason why all the participants of such conversations shouldn’t hone their facilitation skills and gently apply them in such conversations (in an unofficial role often called “guerrilla facilitation”) — at every stage, from pre-conversation ‘design’ (research, location-setting etc.), intention- and context-setting, tending the relationships and flow of the conversation, encouraging creativity, inquiry and synthesis, perspective shifts and trust, and modelling exemplary conversational skills and behaviours that others can learn from and emulate. The 15 card images depicted above show some of the 91 patterns of exemplary practice that might be applied to different types of conversations.

So the next time you find yourself in, or scheduled for, a conversation, ask yourself: Is it a Conversation That Matters? If it isn’t, see whether with some tweaking it might be made into one (or else consider whether you want to avoid it). And if most of the conversations you engage in are not Conversations That Matter, maybe it’s time to shift gears and find ways, and people, to initiate and participate in ones that are.

And when you do, pay attention to what’s happening in the conversation beyond just the words said. Chances are you’ll discover there are some masterful conversationalists in your circles (I’m not one of them, by the way, not by a long shot). Study them, learn from them, discover how they “guerrilla facilitate” the conversation, and follow their example. It’s one of the most important skills you can learn.

Dave Pollard

—————–

1 Comment »

Poor Richard:

Dave, I love your ideas and your writing so perhaps I can be forgiven for quibbling with some things. You write:

“…I can see, sense, intuitively know that when we lived in the rainforest, for the first million years of our species’ existence, we had everything we needed for an easy, joyful, sustainable life and so did the rest of all life on Earth. I’m filled with grief that we lived an idyllic, harmonious life, and for whatever reason (the reason no longer matters) we abandoned it, destroyed it.”

How do you know this? It seems more like a romantic fantasy to me. Hobbes’ “war of all against all” is just as true (perhaps more valid overall) a description of nature as yours. Check it out @ Scientific American: 13 Horrifying Ways To Die (Arthropod Edition).

Otherwise, a great essay. Thanks.

PR

—————-

via Conversations That Matter « how to save the world.

GMO — OMG!

(October 19, 2012) Gary Hirshberg is the Chairman of Stonyfield Farm, founder of the “Just Label It” campaign, and author of Label It Now: What You Need to Know About Genetically Engineered Foods. Last month [September 2012], Foodconsumer.org profiled Hirshberg’s support of California Proposition 37. The ballot initiative would require the labeling of genetically engineered food and counts Bill Maher among its supporters (via HBO)

via Bill Maher interviews Gary Hirshberg – YouTube.

Fallacy of composition

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The fallacy of composition arises when one infers that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole (or even of every proper part). For example: “This fragment of metal cannot be broken with a hammer, therefore the machine of which it is a part cannot be broken with a hammer.” This is clearly fallacious, because many machines can be broken into their constituent parts without any of those parts being breakable.

This fallacy is often confused with the fallacy of hasty generalization, in which an unwarranted inference is made from a statement about a sample to a statement about the population from which it is drawn.

The fallacy of composition is the converse of the fallacy of division. The fallacy of composition is also known as the “un-ecological fallacy.”

Example:

  1. Human cells are invisible to the naked eye.
  2. Humans are made up of human cells.
  3. Therefore, humans are invisible to the naked eye.[1]

In Keynesian macroeconomics, the “paradox of thrift” theory illustrates this fallacy: increasing saving (or “thrift”) is obviously good for an individual, since it provides for retirement or a “rainy day,” but if everyone saves more, Keynesian economists argue that it may cause a recession by reducing consumer demand.

In voting theory, the Condorcet paradox demonstrates a fallacy of composition: Even if all voters have rational preferences, the collective choice induced by majority rule is not transitive and hence not rational. The fallacy of composition occurs if from the rationality of the individuals one infers that society can be equally rational. The principle generalizes beyond the aggregation via majority rule to any reasonable aggregation rule, demonstrating that the aggregation of individual preferences into a Social welfare function is fraught with severe difficulties (see Arrow’s impossibility theorem and Social choice theory).

Modo hoc fallacy

The modo hoc (or “just this”) fallacy is the informal error of assessing meaning to an existent based on the constituent properties of its material makeup while omitting the matter’s arrangement.[2] For instance, metaphysical naturalism states that while matter and motion are all that comprise man, it cannot be assumed that the characteristics inherent in the elements and physical reactions that make up man ultimately and solely define man’s meaning; for, a cow which is alive and well and a cow which has been chopped up into meat are the same matter but it is obvious that the arrangement of that matter clarifies those different situational meanings.[2]

Identity Management

Peerpoint Abbey, Ireland

Peerpoint Abbey, Ireland (Photo credit: trexcali)

[The following is a new draft addition to the PeerPoint Open Requirements Definition and Design Specification Proposal (currently a shared Google Doc). The PeerPoint project is an open and collaborative effort to develop requirements, standards, and specifications for peer-to-peer internet technologies that will promote fair and sustainable societies. On-going updates to this topic will be made at the above link. Your collaboration is invited! – PR]

PeerPoint Identity Management

The first step in defining the problem space of identity management is to define identity. What is it?  From The Free Dictionary (tfd.com):

identity: 1. The collective aspect of the set of characteristics by which a thing is definitively recognizable or known

PeerPoint Terms and Definitions

  • entity: anything that has a definite, recognizable identity, whether a person, group, organization, place, object, computer, mobile device, concept, etc.

    Identity conceptual view

    Identity conceptual view (credit: Wikipedia)

  • attribute: any characteristic, property, quality, trait, etc. that is inherent in or attributed to an entity. An entity has one or more attributes and an attribute has one or more values. For example “the sky (entity) has color (attribute) of blue (value).” This entity-attribute-value (EAV) model is sometimes called a “triple” as in the Resource Description Framework (RDF). An attribute (which is also a kind of entity) may have attributes of its own. These are often logically nested in a hierarchical fashion. For example, an address may be an attribute of a company but also an entity with attributes of street, city, state, etc. An entity may have multiple instances of the same attributes, such as multiple aliases or addresses. (Different programming languages, protocols, frameworks, and applications may organize the entity-attribute-value model differently; or use different terms such as object for entity or property for attribute; but this is probably the most generic approach.)
  • Rdf-graph3

    Rdf-graph3 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    identity: a definitive and recognizable set of attribute-value pairs (or entity-attribute-value triples) for a particular entity. The set of attribute-value pairs may be partial or exhaustive, depending on the intended purpose of the identity construct.

  • identification (ID): a dataset (value, record, file, etc) which represents the most concise amount of information required to specify a particular entity and distinguish it from others. An ID may be local to a particular context, such as a company employee ID or inventory number, or it may be universal. Examples of universal ID are Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN) and uniform resource identifiers (URI).  The ID typically consists of a smaller quantity of data than the full identity dataset and only represents or refers to the full identity.

Identity management problem space

The PeerPoint requirements will explore various parts of the Identity Management problem space, all of which overlap or interpenetrate each other:

  1. description
  2. classification
  3. identity provisioning and discovery (directory services, including identity & directory linking, mapping, and federation)
  4. authentication (validation, verification, security tokens and security token services)
  5. authorization (access control, role-based access control, single sign on)
  6. security (anonymity, vulnerabilities, risk management)

1. Description

Description is meant here in its most general sense as the entire set of attributes and values that describe an entity, and not simply a “description” box or field in a record. This is the aspect of identity management which establishes the set of attributes and values (or profile) by which an entity is typically recognizable or known in a particular context. A description can attempt to be exhaustive, but in most cases it is only as complete as required for its intended purpose in a given application.

PeerPoint requirements

  • Identity management functions should be consistent across all PeerPoint applications, so the requirements should be implemented as part of a PeerPoint system library from which all applications, middleware, APIs, etc. can call the necessary functions. Interfaces or connectors must be provided for non-PeerPoint-compatable systems.
  • There are many methods in existing software applications, protocols, and frameworks to describe the identity of entities. The PeerPoint identity management solutions must inter-operate with as many of these as possible. For that reason the PeerPoint descriptions of entities must be as generic, modular, composable, and extensible (open-ended) as possible.
  • PeerPoint user interfaces (UI) must allow users to extend and customize entity descriptions in as intuitive a manner as possible without reducing or destroying the interoperability of the descriptions with those of other platforms. One approach is to provide user input forms with the most common or universal attributes for various types of entities, combined with fields for additional user-defined attribute-value pairs as well as simple tags.
  • In both standardized and customizable parts of entity descriptions, the UI should provide as much guidance as possible about the most typical names and/or value ranges for attributes without locking the user in to these “preferred” or popular choices.

One of the most basic entities in social networking systems is the person or member (or in more abstract terms, an account). The identity description for such an entity is commonly called a “user profile.” User profiles are also found in most applications that involve online collaboration. The most primitive form of user account consists of a user ID (or UID) and a password, where both the ID and password are simple alphanumeric strings. But increasingly, user accounts for social and collaborative applications include elaborate user profiles. Facebook is a good example, having one of the most extensive user profiles of any internet application.

This is a partial screenshot of Poor Richard’s Facebook Profile:

The information in a Facebook User Profile is organized into numerous logical categories. Some not shown above include the user’s friends, Facebook groups to which the user belongs, and a personal library of documents and images. Other profile sections include unlimited free-form text.

Many of the profile data categories such as “Arts and Entertainment” may include unlimited numbers of “likes” or tags. These are added via an intuitive interface in which the user begins typing something such as a-r-e-t-h-a- -f-r-a-n-k… and as the user types, a list of matching tags is displayed and  continuously updated with each keystroke, showing possible matches from the Facebook database. If no match is found by the end of typing, the entered tag label is displayed as-is with a generic icon. Facebook’s database of entities in the various categories is created and maintained primarily by Facebook users who create Facebook “pages” for people, groups, companies, products, movies, authors, artists, etc.

Other social network sites have profile features not found in the Facebook User Profile. Google + adds a feature to the “friends” data category called “circles” and a homepage feature called “hangouts”. Google + users can organize friends into user-defined categories called circles that inter-operate with other Google apps, and can create live audio-video chat groups with user-defined membership. LinkedIn has additional profile data categories for resumes, cvs, and employment references, recommendations or testimonials.

In addition to users, on various social networks accounts may be created for special-interest groups, fan clubs, companies, organizations, and topic pages of all kinds. The structures of the profiles for different types of accounts on different networks vary widely.

Very limited, generic profiles are also hosted by services such as Gravatar and About.me.

Sample Gravatar profile:

OpenID Simple Registation is an extension to the OpenID Authentication protocol that allows for very light-weight profile exchange. It is designed to pass eight commonly requested pieces of information when an End User goes to register a new account with a web service.

Gravatar and OpenID SR are simple examples of what PeerPoint will call a meta-profile (a profile that can be used across multiple applications or systems).

PeerPoint requirements:

  • Digital identity, representation of a set of claims made by one digital subject about itself or another digital subject
  • Online identity, social identity that an internet user establishes in online communities and websites
  • Federated identity, assembled identity of a person’s user information, stored across multiple distinct identity management systems
  • the capability to create and maintain identity meta-profiles for users and other types of entity
  • the ability to create multiple alternate  profiles for the same entity
  • intuitive user interface for creating, customizing, and maintaining meta-profiles
  • allow the creator of any identity profile to determine where any portion of it is stored and with whom any portion of it is shared
  • capability to synchronize PeerPoint profiles with profiles in non-PeerPoint applications and systems

2. Classification (“people, places, and things”)

Different kinds of entities have different kinds of descriptions, so an important part of the identity management problem is the problem of sorting things into various categories. Sorting things into categories or classes is often called categorization or  classification. Classification systems are often called taxonomies. Examples might include the index of an encyclopedia, a library card catalog, or a glossary of internet terms.

In the case of information systems, the term ontology means “a rigorous and exhaustive organization of some knowledge domain that is usually hierarchical and contains all the relevant entities and their relations.” (tfd.com)  Wikipedia says  “An ontology renders shared vocabulary and taxonomy which models a domain with the definition of objects and/or concepts and their properties and relations. Ontologies are the structural frameworks for organizing information and are used in artificial intelligence, the Semantic Web, systems engineering, software engineering, biomedical informatics, library science, enterprise bookmarking, and information architecture as a form of knowledge representation about the world or some part of it. The creation of domain ontologies is also fundamental to the definition and use of an enterprise architecture framework.

Another related term in information systems is namespace, often used in relation to wiki structures and directory services.

In identity management, two of the main systems of categories, or taxonomies, would be categories of entities and categories of attributes. Attributes are themselves categories of values (the attribute “color” is a category of colors: red, blue, green, etc.).

Examples of high-level categories of entities might include:

  • people
  • groups
  • organizations
  • places
  • internet technologies
  • devices

Examples of very high-level categories of attributes could include:

These taxonomies become semantic web ontologies when they are defined in machine-readable protocols such as:

Linked Data

One great advantage of machine-readable ontologies is the ability to semantically link data across the web.

Linking open-data community project

The goal of the W3C Semantic Web Education and Outreach group’s Linking Open Data community project is to extend the Web with a data commons by publishing various open datasets as RDF on the Web and by setting RDF links between data items from different data sources. In October 2007, datasets consisted of over two billion RDF triples, which were interlinked by over two million RDF links. By September 2011 this had grown to 31 billion RDF triples, interlinked by around 504 million RDF links. There is also an interactive visualization of the linked data sets to browse through the cloud.

Dataset instance and class relationships

Clickable diagrams that show the individual datasets and their relationships within the DBpedia-spawned LOD cloud, as shown by the figures to the right, are:

3. Identity provisioning and discovery (directory services, including identity & directory linking, mapping, and federation)

(requirements to be determined)

No center or hub (identityblog.com)

4. Authentication (validation, verification, security token service)

(requirements to be determined)

5. Authorization (access control, role-based access control, single sign on)

(requirements to be determined)

6. Security (anonymity, vulnerabilities, risk management)

(requirements to be determined)

1. User Control and Consent:

Digital identity systems must only reveal information identifying a user with the user’s consent. (Starts here…)

2. Limited Disclosure for Limited Use

The solution which discloses the least identifying information and best limits its use is the most stable, long-term solution. (Starts here…)

3. The Law of Fewest Parties

Digital identity systems must limit disclosure of identifying information to parties having a necessary and justifiable place in a given identity relationship. (Starts here…)

4. Directed Identity

A universal identity metasystem must support both “omnidirectional” identifiers for use by public entities and “unidirectional” identifiers for private entities, thus facilitating discovery while preventing unnecessary release of correlation handles. (Starts here…)

5. Pluralism of Operators and Technologies:

A universal identity metasystem must channel and enable the interworking of multiple identity technologies run by multiple identity providers. (Starts here…)

6. Human Integration:

A unifying identity metasystem must define the human user as a component integrated through protected and unambiguous human-machine communications. (Starts here…)

7. Consistent Experience Across Contexts:

A unifying identity metasystem must provide a simple consistent experience while enabling separation of contexts through multiple operators and technologies. (Starts here…)

Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) v0.11

Data Model and Syntaxes for Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs)W3C Draft Community Group Report 

New Word: euphemasia

The worlds of politics and economics have become so awash in euphemisms nowadays that George Orwell is spinning in his grave. I have decided to add another new word to all the languages of Earth (the New Word Order).

euphemasia (you-fem-ay-sia)

Noun.

1. The act of putting a mind out of its misery by stripping language of all meaning through the excessive use of euphemisms. The death of the mind by this means is generally painless and many who practice euphemasia claim that it is a act of mercy. It was first applied only in the case of a feeble or chronically ailing mind, but now it is practiced on large segments of the world’s population.

2. In addition to committing euphemasia by using a very large number of euphemisms, euphemasia can sometimes be committed by the use of a single euphemism that is so egregious as to be lethal on its own. An example is the euphemism “austerity”, when used to refer to a  campaign by super-rich, authoritarian sociopaths to return the world to feudalism.

Verb: euphemize

Use liberally and enjoy!

Poor Richard

Euphemisms for the Intimate Enemy

Euphemisms for the Intimate Enemy (Photo credit: Sweet One)

Breit-sided

I’d like to see “STING” operations (like those run against liberals by the late, unscrupulous, and McCarthy-esque character assassin Andrew Breitbart) on GOP figures like Boehner and Santorum and on media clowns like Rush Limbo. An actor would confront the target with paraphrased quotations from Thomas Jefferson or the US Constitution and record their naive, hostile, and derogatory reactions.

Jefferson vs Santorum on public education:

Speaking of that late-but-unlamented reputation bushwhacker, back-stabber, and information terrorist, Andrew Breitbart, I propose a new verb for the English language:

breit-sided: verb. A play on the word “blind-sided”: to be caught off-guard by cleverly manufactured but unfounded accusations, lies, defamations, and other kinds of sleazy, cut-throat “yellow journalism”. The practice evolved in “tabloid” media outlets like those controlled by the notorious robber-baron of crap-based media, Rupert Murdoch, to the point it is rapidly becoming a “new normal” in the mass-media ecosystem.

PR

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