Etel is done. What a week!
Mid-way through Day 1, the ETel organizers arranged for three short speeches on identity. These were great, and very important, talks.
Identity Woman Kaliya Hamlin talked about open identity platforms — OpenID, Inames, et al — and how they are coming together. With AOL providing an OpenID for every subscriber, and Microsoft too, plus the competing technologies and standards unifying, it looks as if we might finally have some momentum around these platforms.
Kaliya also quoted some great statistics. At this point, more than 1200 sites, have enabled OpenID. OpenID users are more active as well, spending more time on the sites they frequent.
She closed with the simple observation that names, and hence identity, are assets that carriers own, and they are the foundation for commerce, etc. There's a business in model in providing identity and commerce services to third parties.
The dry as bone and very funny Lee Dryburgh followed with a talk that opened with the ironic observation that "emerging telephony is the end of telephony as a concept"… or as they might say in the US… "this ain't your mothers phone!"
Lee's talk was about a concept he calls "autobuddies", or enabling conversations with relevant strangers. He proposes a new element to buddy lists, which are the people you don't know, but would like to know. The key problems to solve are how to advertise attributes, and identity / reputation / interaction and trust models.
In a social context, of course, this is a very interesting problem. I am not sure that we understand enough about whether the world at large (even today's very open netizens amongst the young) would be really willing to explicitly do things like set the "want to meet opposite sex for short nasty relationship" bit on your phone before entering a bar, for instance. It's a bit like the now discredited meta tags for attaching web page keywords. It seems to me that something more algorithmic, and less easily spoofed, will be a requirement.
Lee pointed to something called the Higgins Trust Framework, donated by IBM to the Eclipse Foundation which I plan to take a closer look at.
The last speaker was John Todd, talking about the ISN concept. You can find out more at Freenum.org. The idea is a simple one — one can create the equivalent of a username / domain relationship by expressing extension / organization using numeric keypad depressable numbers. An ITAD subscriber number looks like 61483*771, which means extensions 61483 in organization 771. They've already done the work to set up an organization, and a number space managed by the IANA, and the movement is gaining moment. Go join!
Identity was clearly one of the larger topics of conversation at the show. The most interesting thing for me is the emergence of portable identity systems, which I pointed out in December 2005 as one of the key foundational elements in the Voice 2.0 Manifesto. The me-centric communications world it envisions is impossible without these systems.