The Identity Conundrum

Rob Hof

Dion Hinchcliffe has a thoughtful post about how better systems for establishing identity online may help avoid some of the recent conflagrations that have erupted, such as furor over the Washington Post closing off what it said were inappropriate comments on its main blog. Dion thinks the solution lies in forcing people to identify themselves. He suggests that could be accomplished through the emerging notion of Identity 2.0, which essentially calls for a user-controlled identity system. (Check out Sxip Identity's Dick Hardt artful articulation of the idea.)

Honestly, I don't know if Identity 2.0, or something like it, will solve all the problems. Some people--perfectly good people with insightful opinions--simply don't want to be identified in some circumstances. Their employers may object. They're worried about government intrusion. Maybe they're just shy. Seems like it's going to be tough for one identifier to suffice for all the different kinds of things we do online. But then you've got the same problem of who's really whom all over again.

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