Month: October 2007

The challenge

Work to Be Done is my August 2007 Linux For Suits column in Linux Journal. In it I leverage the wisdom of Willard McCarty

Particularly since the advent of the Web, our attention and energy have been involved with the exponential growth of digitization. The benefits for scholarship here are unarguably great. But as ever larger amounts of searchable and otherwise computable material become available, we don’t simply have more evidence for this or that business as usual. We have massively greater ecological diversity to take account of, and so can expect inherited ways of construing reality and of working, alone and with each other, to need basic renovation. Here is work to be done. It’s not a matter of breaking down disciplinary boundaries-the more we concentrate on breaking these down, the more they are needed for the breaking down. Rather the point is the reconfiguration of disciplinarity. From computing’s prospect at least, the feudal metaphor of turf and the medieval tree of knowledge in its formal garden of learning make no sense. We need other metaphors. Here is work to be done.

… into the challenge of VRM, where approximately 100% of What We Need To Do remains to be done.

A challenge for sessions at the next IIW

Work to be done is my August, 2007 Linux For Suits column in Linux Journal. It lays out the almost zero-based challenge of making VRM tools happen. We need code here, and we don’t have it yet. Not any we’d call primarily VRM, anyway. There are tools that may be VRM-like, or do some VRM work. But none yet that were invented for the single-minded purpose of equipping individuals with tools that help them build real and productive relationships with vendors.

That remains the challenge here. We need code.

That’s what I’d like to see us put on the front burner for VRM sessions at the next IIW (), scheduled for December 3-5 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.

These workshops have been, without exception, the most productive I’ve ever seen. Stuff happens there. Parties that would be natural enemies in other venues scribble on whiteboards and pound on laptops, working things out.

Look forward to seeing you there.

A VRM Proposal

At, Trey Tomeny outlines a very interesting approach to challenges such as personal health care data control (discussed over here). It’s a “private identity network” or PIN. Here’s what it does:

1. Provision our identity across the Internet so we don’t have to remember and enter countless user names, passwords, and captchas.
2. Filter our data both downstream and upstream so our surfing experience is less interrupted by undesirable intrusions.
3. Provide us with absolute anonymity at those sites that allow it
4. Provide us with convenient, repeatable pseudonymity at the sites that allow that
5. Certify our identity off line as enabled by off line partners
6. Provide single sign on to any device, anywhere
7. Provision our identity to access non-PC machines like locks and ticket acceptors
8. Provide a secure repository for our lifetime of data, while allowing limited access for limited purposes by parties we authorize
9. Provide a trusted way to manage intellectual property so creators and users are protected
10. Do all these things at no cost to the user.

I like where he’s going here, a lot; and I think it makes great fodder for discussion, as well as a challenge for developers. I hope Trey can make the next Internet Identity Workshop (IIW) in December, where folks doing good work on Identity already can bat it around, have fun with it, and maybe take it somewhere.

I also think it has the makings of a VRM system.  I only have two concerns, both minor.

One is that Trey positions the idea as a “replacement” for Google as “the dominant force” on the Net. I think this characterizes both the Net and Google too simplistically. That Google dominates search and advertising as both now stand is a Major Fact, but not cause for added characterization. I think Google could actually be of assistance here.

The other is that it proposes to replace or supplant the Google advertising model (and all advertising models, for that matter) with one that is more direct and efficient, as well as accountable. Regardless of the characterization, it would be make money on the sell side. I think there is much more, and better, money to be made by assisting the buy side in building an intention economy around actual buyer wants and needs. In VRM circles we talk often here about the need for “personal RFPs” or “fractional horsepower purchase orders”. By any name, this kind of thing, would, I think, be supported by Trey’s PINs.

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