id cubed


the institute of institutional innovation for data driven design

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intro’d to id3 via David Bollier.

he suggested from bitcoin to burning man and beyond:

fro bitcoin to burning man















book links to page to order or download free pdf

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intro –

nowhere is this transition more pronounced than in the explosion of new ways to create and exchange money and to verify the identity of and monetized “digital assets.”

gosh – i hope the plan is to leap frog to the beyond.. where we move beyond money et al

in this new data ecology, virtually anything can become a “digital asset” – identities, currencies, securities, contracts, mortgages, derivatives, goods, services, rewards, genome, licenses, titles, certificates, and much more. the identity, value and security of such assets can be verified through a variety of sophisticated new authentication and cryptographic methods…   opening the door for entirely new forms of social and market exchange.

what if tech is opening the door for a non-market exchange.. and non-exchange..? a non verification ness… because we’re all usefully preoccupied – w/something else to do ness (Neil Gershenfeld)

… now the internet has become a mission-critical infrastructure for all forms of health, defense, financial, transportation, and sovereign interactions (what’s that?).

what if those no longer exist.. or at least shrink so small to not be relevant to focus.

rather than have essential institutional functions (such as credentialing, enrollment, authentication, authorization, regulatory oversight, auditing, enforcement, dispute resolution, market making and clearing) be physical and human -dependent processes, it is now possible, indeed, even necessary, to make such processes digital, algorithmic, autonomous, transparent, and self-correcting.

or irrelevant.. no? those are all man-made. representative of mistrust. and of people trying to prove themselves.. (ie: lack of authenticity and attachment)

id cubed formed in 2011 – mission: develop open data ecosystem through research, education and the support of an open source service platform, open mustard seed (oms). this endeavor seeks to address the sever infrastructural and governance limitations of existing institutions by giving individuals and groups greater control over their data, and the ability to deploy a new generation of trusted, decentralized, autonomous organizations and institutions globally.

18 authors – most attended a retreat in 2013… manifest: the windhover transition (see conclusion)

3 parts:

1 – charting new ecology of data

2 – digital currencies as instruments for social change

3 – open architectures for an open society

.. it is clear that the best way to unlock enormous stores of value on networks is to develop tools tha can facilitate gfns (group forming networks). as Bollier and Clippinger write: this will be the next great internet disruption. but to achieve this, we must develop a netwrok architecture and software systems that can build trust and social capital in user-centric, scalable ways.”

ios ness..

any successful commons, according to Ostrom’s design principles, must be able to define the boundaries of its community and governance; align the governance rules with local needs and conditions; and ensure that those affected by the rules can participate in modifying the rules.

unless we can bypass that.. we haven’t yet experimented with truly free people. so we don’t know whether or not governance (and esp market ness) is a given.

“once we eliminated firearms, invented the greeters, repurposed and reorganized the rangers, created a street grid, regulated traffic, increased population densities, and gave everyone an address,” said founder Larry Harvey, “people could more freely interact; them camps tripled, villages thrived, entire neighborhoods began to come alive.”

.. burning man‘s ten principles offer valuable guidance to those who wish to build the world anew, by declaring the importance of radical inclusion, a culture of unconditional gift-giving, an ethic of decommodification and non-commercialism, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression and civic responsibility, …

so has that worked? or can we at least see glimmers of it working? if so.. yay.

if not.. is it because the people are only freed up for that short time.. so not truly free. and/or because principles were established.. rather than – again – everyone being free enough to (always) be doing the thing they can’t not do – so those principles emerge from innate ness.. rather than a list.

(Mihaela) Ulieru’s mission as a holonics scholar is to jolt us out of our conventional understanding of physical and human dynamics, and point us to the complex, dynamic rules and laws of self-organizing systems. she helps us to understand the limitations of organizational hierarchies and to appreciate instutions as living system embedded in larger social and ecological context.

oh good. self-organizing ness. jolt away.

Ulieru is giving us a richer theoretical understanding of what happens on the www every day. the challenge is how we might use these principles to build more effective organizations, foster ecological stewardship and unleash more generative human relationships.

Pitt and Diaconescu argue that we need to devise algorithmic frameworks (that can implement Ostrom’s rules) as a “meso-level of governance” that can mediate between micro-levels of self-organized governance and macro=level outcomes that may be incoherent or undesirable. this could be the basis for a new kind of “social ergonomics” on self-governance platforms.

what makes oms so distinctive is its “privacy by design” principles – that is, absolute privacy, security and trusted exchange are built into the very design of the system

and/or – privacy by – 100% of people having something better to do..

what is absolute privacy? sounds like drone strikes and bad starfish ness..

re\wire for networked individualism

how soon will we recognize these deeper currents and reorient our energies and imaginations to take advantage of them?


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ch 1 – via Sandy Pentland

adam smith thought that the invisible hand was due to a market mechanism that was constrained by peer pressure within the community. in the succeeding centuries we have tended to emphasize the market mechanism and forgotten the importance of the peer pressure part of his idea.


how can we use these insights about human nature to design a society better suited to human nature?

what if those insights about human nature (adam smith et al) are not really natural.. more.. based on how we act – ie: after we’ve been in school, and immersed in market based society.. previous paragraph talks of habits including – spending, political behavior… what if those counter authentic human nature..?

because we are not just economic creatures, our vision of a human-centrc society must include a broader range of human motivations – such as curiosity, trust, and social pressure.


contrarians are important. when people are behaving independently of their social learning, it is likely that they have independent information and that they believe in that information enough to fight the effects of social influence. find as many of these “wise guys” as possible and learn from them.

so – everyone has that in them. how to create spaces where each one of us emerges more. more eudaimoniously.

such contrarians sometimes have the best ideas, but sometimes they are just oddballs. how can you know which is which?

oddballs? who’s deciding that? or what that means..? what if our time spent judging is getting in the way. what if we spent that time listening deeper. assuming everyone has a piece.. to make the dance dance. odd ball ness? antifragile ness? trusting each person to do their own daily gut checks..

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ch 2: Clippinger

odess stack: open distributed emergent secure self-reflexive, ie: bitcoin, ripple, digital currencies, encrypted p2p services


in the face of institutional failures, respectable opinion generally focuses on reforming traditional “democratic” processes such as voting, legislation, adjudication, licensing, litigation and regulatory procedures. but these modes of governance are increasingly ineffective artifacts of a bygone era.

nice. i’d add money.. at least..

self-sovereign authentication. as long as some third party – whether it be a state, a bank or a social media site – is the source of an individual’s identity credentials, that individual’s freedom and control over their identity and personal data are limited. if anything should be inalienable, it should be one’s identity – the right to assert and control who you are.

great. by why authentication? why issue credentials at all?

.. an algorithm would have to compute a unique credential for everyone on the planet based upon something that is uniquely identifying to them.

why? what do we need this credentialing for?

.. a “sliding scale” of credential reliability tied to the level of risk or value in a given transaction.


in emerging mobile markets where transaction volumes and amounts are infrequent and under $25 in value, …. authentication algorithm could be lighter, but as the volume and amounts of transactions increase, more rigorous credentials and real-time authentication methods could be used.

what if money isn’t part of our future.. what if

… an individual’s identity signature would be stored in an encrypted persoal cloud that could only be access through a secure api to upgrade the signature and to allow third [party verification.


so what if this is all work/experimenting on deeper stuff, but not deep enough to be first order stuff? ie: better credential/authenticating for what? it seems nothing would ever be secure. and it seems this is a form of algorithmicizing trust. no? wouldn’t it be better to just trust..

if designing our society based on the premise that we are all competitive and war mongers at nature  – doesn’t seem right (paraphrase from Sandy’s talk on ideas page) – what if thinking we all have compartmentalized personas and the need for passwords and buffers to trust – doesn’t seem right..

Patrick Deegan Discusses the Open Mustard Seed Platform for Mobile – trust wrappers

if we need a password – aren’t we doing something wrong.?

something else ness for everyone seems better than passwords and (impossible) security for everyone. antifragile ness

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ch 4: Maurizio Rossi – mestieri culture of the artisans

zoopa …. advertising as a social conversation.

or simply – a social conversation. advertising irrelevant..?

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ch 5: burning man – Peter Hirshberg

… to create a city out of nothing… a wolrd with rules, mores, traditions and principles, which they more or less made up, and then lived.

28 yrs later burning man has emerged as a unique canvas on which to run city-scale experiments. … 2013.. 68000.

can anyone really imagine an economy based on gifts and generosity, not on monetary transactions?

.. burning man is a fascinating place to observe the large-scale practice of self-organizing governance in action. its quarter century history lets us look back and see what worked and what didn’t……. we can observe the constant tension between centralized organization and emergent activity on the edge. it is a lab for testing the balance of extreme liberty and community –  ….. built by everybody..

“cities have the capability of providing something for everybody only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” [..] “by it’s nature, the metroplis provides what otherwise could be given only by traveling; namely, the strange.”  – Jane Jacobs

burning man’s gift economy celebrates the unrequited joy of giving. it’s not barter because nothing is expected in return. .. no brands, no sponsors, no advertising.

the whole point of burning man, says founder Larry Harvey, is to create the world that you want to live in.

two groups were especially influental in shaping the early burning man culture – the followers of anarchist Hakim Bey and the san francisco cacophony society.

Bey’s 1991 book, temporary autonomous zones (taz), is a manifesto for radical thinkers urging them to live authentically, in the present, and with complete self expression. but to do so, said Bey, you must disengage from corporate and government authority – and not just theoretically or in your head, but in real physical space.

taz – .. a liberated area “of land, time or imagination” where one can be for something, not jus against…it should feel like an exceptional party where for a brief moment our desires are made manifest and e all become the creators of the art of everyday life.

taz – published about the same time Tim Berners-Lee was inventing the www… the idea of taz screams, “you’ve got permission, so use it.”

it brought to the fore the question, what is the relationship between law and freedom? does law curtail human freedom as Hobbes claimed? or does law protect and enhance our freedom as Locke argues? furthermore, who has the authority to make and enforce the law in a free society?

without intending to, we’d stumbled onto the principle of civic responsibility. and maybe this is the essential genius of burning man. out of nothing, we created everything.” – Harvey

.. burning man went from a random place in the desert to a pop-up city designed for self-expression and inclusiveness, a place where roads were marked and public spaces were created for art and communities to flourish.

the self-governing phenomena that plays out at burning man today draws on three areas: 1) the principles and values established by the founders; 2) the emergent activity of thousands of participants, …. 3) the design of black rock city itself. getting the city right is what sets the stage for the creative explosion that is burning man.

the designers of boulder, colorado’s pedestrian mall told me that the project works because the mountains in the distance work as a “form of terminus – a place where the city fades into a different environment; ..

your relationship to space changes when you take ownership for authoring it and don’t just go to a place that the government or disneyland makes for you.

… “a circular temporary city plan built around the spectacle of art, music and dance: i wish all cities had such a spirt of utopia by being built around human interaction, community and participation. [.. concentric circles of streets (alphabetical) intersected by radial avenues (via clock) ..]

.. Tony Hsieh.. one reason that downtown vegas is all about co-working; the goal is to get people out of the office and into coffee shops and co=working spaces so that connections might happen…. the point is to make the place, like burning man, a canvas for hundreds of experiments and reduce the friction to get things started.

art projects are a principal way that burning man spreads its culture of permission, self-expression and agency…a way to get 68000 people to contemplate major social themes in a collective, almost dream-like manner… reframe their understanding of the world.

what good is all this if it’s not about how to live the rest of your life? – Harvey

.. i am building a gift that will never be mine… Jess Hobbs

art here is doing exactly what art is supposed to do: ask questions, dwell in ambiguity, look at things differently. but because this is burning man, it can happen at a scale that is almost impossible anywhere else.

[Peter in sf with the gray foundation for the arts) – this year the san francisco planning commission is making citizen prototyping a formal part of city planning along two miles of market street. a group called freespace started by burner Mike Zuckerman has persuaded landlords in thirteen countries to “gift” unused space to the community as a temporary place to prototype, teach and launch projects.

Micael Yarne, …UP, a nonprofit to promote neighborhood-based “green benefit districts.”

with so much experience in self-organizing their own municipal infrastructure in a hostile environment, burners are particularly skilled at functioning during chaotic crises when normal services – running water, electricity, communications channels and sanitation systems – are not available. ie: katrina & burners w/o borders

the gifting economy and decommodification of experience seem fantastic and redolent of a bygone hippie culture – until we realize that our modern lifestyles are based on unsustainable forms of consumption and that capitalism itself must be reinvented.

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ch 6: the internet of money – Irving Wladawsky-Berger

money was not necessary when people lived in small communities where they knew and trusted their neighbors and could therefore exchange labor,food or goods in kind. but the need for something like money arose once communities started to expand and people were dealing with strangers ..

throughout the world, many poor people cannot prove who they are. their lack of a birth certificate or some other identity documents excludes them from participating in many of the activities that we take for granted in a modern economy.

prove who they are..? soak that in. no?

.. digital currencies, and decentralized cryptocurrencies like bitcoin in particular, cannot be ignored because they represent significant advance in the development of an internet-based digital money ecosystem.

is that what we want? a money system?

bitcoin gives us for the first time, a way for one internet user to transfer a unique pieces of digital property [eg, money, signatures, contracts, stocks and bonds] to another internet user, such that the transfer is guaranteed to be safe and secure, everyone knows that the transfer has taken place, and nobody can challenge the legitimacy of the transfer. the consequences of this breakthrough are hard to overstate.  – Marc Andressen, why bitcoin matters, nytimes

.. a way to exchange money or assets between parties with no preexisting trust..

unless money doesn’t matter. unless property doesn’t matter. unless the preexisting part is what makes trust trust. ie: is it trust if it’s dependent on evidences? and then – how do you prove/evidence anything..

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ch 7: complimentary currencies

.. the capacity to hold uncertainty without angst – the capacity to live with the unknown as a n ally rather than something to be eliminated. it is more like a connection to an undifferentiated ground that resists form, which continually invokes questions and reflection and is potentially mutidimensional, a space of “both-and”..

ironically, our financial system as become so fragile because it has become too efficient.

to achieve high efficiency, our modern monetary system has become too streamlined via a monoculture of a single type of money…

.. we have no choice but to learn how to make our global civilization sustainable, or it will cease to exist. it may be useful to remember here that Albert Einstein define insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

what then should governments do to implement the approach proposed here? it could start by accepting other types of currencies, besides conventional bank-debt national money, for the payment of fees and taxes.

that was the very next line after the einstein comment (new paragraph w/new heading) .. dang. what if the insanity is insisting we tweak currencies.. monetary systems…. rather than questioning that premise..

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ch 9: ven and the nature of money

the nature of money is to reflect and strengthen the values of the community in which it operates. if a currency does not do this, it fails in the most important test of its moral existence, … ven’s (digital currency) most important attribute is its philosophy that humans should play a defining role in monetary policy and that including externalities in the dna of currency can radically improve the welfare of the communities that use it. after all, isn’t that what money is for?


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ch 10: green coins – using digital currency to build the new power platform

… the amount of electricity and computing power now needed to mine bitcoins has an enormous carbon footprint.

solarcoin has begun to explore how the concept of a cryptocurrency could be adapted to incentivize solar…. earn new coins by producing more solar power..

in the future, should the digital coins gain real monetary value, other vendors could pledge to accept the coins to boost their perceived social value.


the block chain itself could become a kind of “fiber” connecting solar producers who want to be able to bargain directly with the grid or, over time, trade or move energy within the network of solar providers.

it will be a while before solarcoin or something similar gains such widespread acceptance that people would consider using the currency to trade for energy credits or subsidies (or that the government would permit this to happen).

the say – any ideas to hasten solarcoin ness please contact Jeffrey Schub as jeff at

ch 11: organic governance via holonic systems – Mihaela Ulieru

Mihaela Ulieru, on holonics

 a recurrent problem is our failure to understand that human endeavors are part of holistic, living systems, natural an constructed, whose constitutive elements are mutually defining, expressive and constantly evolving. in actual circumstances, the individual cannot be cast as against, below or above the group; the individual is in fact nested within dynamic forms of social organization.

in the 1960s the writer Arthur Koestler postulated that many biological and social organization simultaneously display part/whole relationships. in other words, every entity is self-contained while concurrently existing as an individual member of a larger collective. Koestler proposed the term holon to describe the elements of these systems. this term is a combination of the greek work holos, meaning “whole,” with the suffix on meaning “part,” as is proton or neuron. the term is mean to reflect the tendencies of holons to act as autonomous entities that also cooperate to form nested hierarchies of subsystems.

art ist ness

the time has come for us to step down from the top of our imaginary hierarchies to integrate ourselves within the larger whole(s), at the same level…. a new social agency begins to arise rooted in local group identity, which manifests through a culture of deep caring ad understanding of “the other” from “the inside,” approaching all living creatures, nature and the universe with the same desire for their well-being as we have for ourselves.

generative transpersonal fields that reclaim both the individual and the collective are capable of transforming the world in powerful and extraordinary ways.

deep enough ness

every participant in a holacracy is a sensor for what is going on , and each plays a role in identifying the tensions in a timely way while taking active steps to resolve them.

.. it is worth asking how software design might be used to advance holonic principles

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ch 12: algorithmic governance of common-pool resources

how do people collectively allocate shared common[pool resources when there is no centralized controller “dictating” what the allocation should be? ie: free riding et al

by making allocations irrelevant. all people busy with something else – rather than busy with making sure things are fair. and/or stressed because they aren’t doing what they want – so they take it out on fabricated/exaggerated yet inevitable unfairness

(Elinor) Ostrom was awarded the nobel prize for economic science in 2009 for her extensive field work and theoretical innovation in demonstrating the feasibility of managing common-pool resources. – … self-governing institutions for enduring common-pool resources management: 8 principles – boundaries (members, resources), congruence (local), participation (in making/adopting), monitoring (by members or agency they pick), proportionality (punishment tiered), conflicts (resolution), autonomy (no external authority), system of systems (nested layers)

there are a number of issues that remain unresolved in devising systems of algorithmic self-governance, however. one involves the various conflicts that may occur when members belong to several communities with incompatible notions of fairness….. others.. hijacking.. competition.. majority opinion..

so – perhaps simpler again – to not keep score.. how to have a system/society where people are too busy doing/being to be bothered with keeping score, proving themselves.. et al.. no?

… given the dismal, unresponsive performance of the alternatives to algorithmic governance and self-organization.. can we afford not to?

maybe we don’t know the degree to which we need any governance.. is because we’ve assumed what humans are capable of, ie: the science of people who have been to school ness..

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ch 13: id2 open mustard seed platform

the centerpiece of oms is an open data platform that enables people to share all their personal data within a legally constituted “trust framework.” … all element of the trust framework – open authentication, storage, discovery, payment, auditing, market making and monetized “app store” services – are based on “privacy by design” principles. that is, privacy, security and trusted exchange are built into the very design of the system.

hmm. that doesn’t seem doable. systemize trust. secure privacy. secure security. seems the only way to not be held prisoner to attaining those principles… is to let them go.

the latent value of “group forming networks,” or fgns, as David Reed calls them, cannot be accessed, however, unless there is an appropriate network architecture and tools. we need a network architecture and software systems that can facilitate the formation of trust and social capital in user-centric and scalable ways.

what if we are the architecture. maleable 24/7. when set free.. assuming/being good.

this vision of a data-driven society is not likely to progress, however, unless we can develop credible systems of law and governance to protect the security and private of personal data.

perhaps we realize those will never be controllable. letting our freedom (authentic – not what we’ve called freedom in past) and innate being honor privacy/security/et al.. by realizing it’s irrelevance… beyond what degree of it exists when 7 billion people are doing their thing. every day. as the day.

… the manifest must be able to represent and implement: how group is to be formed, governed, managed and evolved; how users interact/share info based on individual consent; what data is collected, and how they are accessed/stored/logged/audited; access policies and access-control mechanism by which the data is protected; how a user may join/suspend/withdraw from the community or institution…..

don’t get this.. i think we created these assumed needs.. i don’t think they are natural.. and i don’t think they can be regulated. like – we’re missing the beauty of our interconnectedness .. because we’re not full on trusting.

.. only if the people agreed to share.. and only if they saw commercial value in that sharing…

what if commercial value no longer held value.. what if we woke up to that..

not crazy.. that was Tim Berners-Lee’s thinking.. no? and look how incredible that is/was.

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ch 14: relational matrix – Patrick Deegan

the internet was initially architected without consideration for a secure, viable identity infrastructure. passwords were an after thought and there was little consideration give to privacy and how individuals could assert control over their personal data. there have been many attempts to remedy these shortcomings …

what if they aren’t shortcomings..?

not getting the whole dance of personas and trust.. ie:

provide a basis for humans to manage multiple digital identities and give them agency to act on their behalf, while engaging in automated processes to discover and curate the relations these person could form by participating in trust networks for the mutual benefit of the whole ecosystem having to implement the commons and use digital currency as shared resource.

this is fine if it’s what people want. seems way to complicated. but again – people’s choice. just seems odd to call them trust… trust networks.. trust management.

… this enable hosting to be commoditized at every scale. … ti is like having separate copies of skype running for each alias you might use day-to-day: colleague, friend, family, etc.

as such, rootid is portable and allows the user to backup “credentials.” oms realizes that unless there is a framework enabling interoperability, each institution could possibly offer a unique data ‘vault’ to their customer leading to massive fragmentation of the user’s “identity.”


besides containing scopes of attributes, personas can carry generic information and provide a means for user to interact with other users in a trusted manner without revealing personal information.

how is that a trusted manner?

this (personas) allows the user to participate in particular contexts without having their identity exposed (or personal data leaked about them without their expressed approval).


the more the infrastructure can provide the appropriate level of assurance automatically, for a given context, the  more self-enforcing trusted transactions can become the norm.

ideally oms itself would guarantee that the group node could be trusted with total transparency into its process – enough so that the participants would all be equally represented

? – transparency into personas? non-disclosure… as transparency.. what am i missing?

authenticated, rights, credentials, acceptance, …?

in the ideal world you get this much control over your data by being able to deploy your private infrastructure yourself or though a trusted third party… ie: have all the video cameras, keyboards, monitors, temperature sensors, microphones, every i/o device under root id hardware.

how to have time to be. to take in the moment..?

it (oms) uses algorithmic oversight and signing in preference to human intervention to enable efficiency, scale, performance, integrity, transparency and open innovation. it is based upon many open source bundles based upon the mit 12 open source license.


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woke up in intense wondering – why we need to secure individual identities. (including birth certificate, passport, ..), why do we need a paper..something official, to validate our existence. why is being human not enough. it seems anything past that gets us into too much policy/inhumane ness. baffles me that we have borders.

labels/borders seemed to have messed us up..  even when given/received with good intent. how to maintain the it is me ness and the freedom/bravery to change our minds everyday.. if we start getting labeled/locked-in/out. most of what i read here – the reason is to tap into money/medical records. and/or to sell such records to advertising.

there are times that discrimination to infinity/complexity (ie: to a thumbprint) matters. and there are times that nondiscrimination to one-ness/simplicity matters (ie: are you human or not). when we talk about what matters we often lean toward qualitative vs quantitative. but in cases of moving us forward.. of an identity.. perhaps simply counting 7 billion+ humans would be more helpful/useful/freeing.

ch 15: the necessity of standards for the open social web

when anyone is empowered to contribute – not just credentialed “professionals” authorized by centralized, hierarchical institutions – the result is an explosion of creativity that can even overthrow governments: witness tahrir square. however as witnessed by post-revolutionary egypt, the hard problem is perhaps not the overthrow of pre=existing institutions, which seems to come about all too easily, but how a genuinely new social – and today, digital – realm can arise without domination and exploitation.

why open standards matter. large institutions are increasingly using big data to assert institutional control over our personal information and, in turn, what we can read, think, create and organize with others: the question is how to take that power back without losing its myriad advantages. to prevent the centralization of our data in the hands of a neofeudal digital regime and all the dangers that this entails, we urgently need to construct a new ecosystem of open standards to allow secure forms of digital identity that everyone from individuals to institutions can deploy without being “locked-in” to existing players.

wondering how much energy we spend on securing security. wondering how much better off we all might be if we spent more on freeing people up to do their thing. less inspecting ness more eudaimonia ness. ie: we say we want to free people by offering secure identity et al.. but is that more about control.. than freedom..?

simply using these platforms “as is” will not enable a flowering of innovation because much of the core control over identity – and thus control over how people may interact – will remain in the hands of a few cetralized players who control username, passwords, personal data, metadata and more. there players naturally wish to control how personal data will be used because so much of their current institutional sovereignty and revenues depend upon it.

so – rather than re-color or stack on top of that game.. why don’t we break away – and make that game – issues of control et al – irrelevant. perhaps the best antidote for this addiction/obsession we have with perpetuating a need for more security, and security for security, is to become usefully preoccupied with whatever matters to us. each/everyday. keeps us from getting in others’ way.. and from getting in our own way.

why shouldn’t identity creation and verification be based on open standards like the internet? this is surely the best guarantor against abuses of the data.

or not. seems the best guarantor against abuses is creating a system where everyone has the luxury to do whatever they want. because that way – people’s own 24/7 desire to do/be – is too busy/happy/calm to abuse.

it is clear that, faced with problems whose structures and complexity are difficult to grasp – global climate change, the financial crisis and the spread of failed states  – we desperately need to harness the potential power of an interconnected world. open standards for identity are the first step.

or – making identity/access simple enough – that all can join in today.

…multitaskholder standards bodies allow individual or institutional participation based on informality and merit, and not on the basis of political credentials or government roles. in the words of first chair of the internet architecture board David Clark: “we reject kings, presidents and voting. we believe in rough consensus and running code.”

when the internet was first being built, the internet engineering task force (ietf) functioned as an informal network of graduate students who posted “requests for comments” (rfcs) for early internet protocols. frustrated with the large number of incompatible protocols and identification schemes produced by the ietf, Tim Berners-Lee had the vision of a universal information space that he called the world wide web.

in order for a new layer of social and identity protocols to be incorporated into the rest of the web via open standardization, it would be necessary, in an ideal scenario, to establish a single set of standards for each step in how digital identity and social networking are currently managed in existing closed, centralized data silos, and the adapt them to an open and decentralized world.


identity is the connection between descriptive data and a human or social institution.

in the case of services such as facebook, twitter and google, the identity of the user is completely controlled by the corporation and the user has not rights over their digital identity – a power that is even more controlling than that exercised by nation-states (over passports, for example). corporations exercise these powers over identity even though they do not own domain names indefinitely, but lease them from domain registrars who ultimately lease them from icann – which has the iana (internet assigned names and numbers authority) function to distribute domain names on lease from the us department of commerce.

whoa. no?

the main purpose of an identity ecosystem is to enable the use of personal data: that is, any data pertaining to a particular human being or institution under autonomous control. currently, social networking “silos” such as facebook, google+ and twitter mostly trade in low-quality social data, such as names and lists of friends – as well as shopping preferences. however, there have ben moves towards enforcing higher quality standards and verified personal data, such as the use of a “real name” policy in google+. google+ and facebook have also sought to link phone numbers as well as geolocation to identities in their proprietary silos.

notwithstanding these gambits, high=value data such as credit histories and medical records are to a large extent still controlled by traditional institutions such as banks and hospitals. the thesis put forward by the world economic forum in reports such as “personal data: a new asset class” is that high=quality personal data currently “locked” away in traditional institutions could serve as a valuable input into data-driven innovation.


the vision is that users should control their own data via personal data stores, also called “personal data lockers.” these personal data stores consist of attributes, such as full name, phone number, bank balance and medical attributes.


various systems can be used to double-check these attributes by various means, including machine-learning and background checks, all of which would be used to create verified attributes.

? sounds like 95% ness.

by controlling their own data, users could them enter into contracts that would enable powerful services in exchange for their data.

? – even more reason to spend your days proving/fabricating/lying-about your data. what if instead.. we got all we needed – simply by the identifier: human. wouldn’t that free up a ton of energy/time/people/resources….

users could also establish their own self-organized “trust frameworks” via algorithmically backed, legally binding agreements.

trust is good. how is that trust?

access to our online lives has become such an essential foundation of our everyday lives that access and control of one’s own data may soon be considered as completely natural by digital natives” as control over one’s own body is in any post-slavery society. for the moment, this vision remains ultimately utopian – something that exists mostly as a vision to inspire and guide a few programmers who are trying to correct our dangerous socio-economic trajectory towards centralized control over our social lives.

bringing up slavery is perhaps a good example of why focus on securing identity – validating oneself – isn’t freeing. we have more slaves now than ever before. no? perhaps freedom comes in spaces of permission where people/humans have nothing to prove/secure/authenticate.

of course the means to that – is that it is simple enough access for 100% of humanity. everyday.

the language of open standards that could serve as the new vernacular for our digital age is being created in the here-and-now by concerned engineers. what is conspicuously absent is a larger vision that can appeal to the vast swathes of humanity that are not already part of the technical standardization process, and so could galvanize a new social movement suited for this digital age.

those who can comprehend the current dangers of having our identities outside of our own control and those who understand the latent potential for standards-based autonomous digital identity must surely at some point find the worlds to express themselves in a way that can be widely comprehended. after all, the revolutionary call for an open social web is being driven by the self-same collective feeling that historically has driven innumerable revolutions before: the desire for freedom.

so – rather than finding a way to express this belief (of dangers of others controlling us & need for standards based identity), what if we trusted/freed 7 billion people up to decide for themselves if they buy into that. what if we trusted 7 billion hearts/maps. what if the freedom – without labels – without proving ness – will allow/facilitate the listening that is keeping us from us just now.

– – –

back cover:

(oms), a new open source platform that gives users genuine control over their identities and personal data and the means to design their own currencies and institutions.

what if we can’t (and don’t want to) control our identities. what if personal data – isn’t ever really ours.. ie: how can you say an idea came only from you. and what if currencies and institutions are not a desire for people who have the luxury everyday – to grok what matters most.

– – –

so – diving into identity ness.

wish i could have a chat with Tim – actually.

but i’ll wait.



open mustard seed:

april 2014:


from projects on id cubed site.. human dynamics lab:

Reality Analysis, a term coined by Sandy Pentland, involves collecting and analyzing the trail of data left behind as we go through our daily lives.

trail of data left behind as we go through our daily lives.

yes that. i’m dreaming of a dance. ness. mostly based off self-talk.

we keep waiting – on some findings – some research – when perhaps the most valuable data each of us need is inside each one of us. accessible 24/7. listen in.


from think pieces on id cubed site… 

No system of digital common law can work unless it enables the members of a community to develop social trust among themselves and the institutions with whom they deal. This process begins with each participant having the capacity to control information about themselves and to select how much they will disclose about themselves to others – businesses, government, social and civic groups, family, and friends. Participants must also have the ability to choose how to share and whether to monetize their data.


.. the trust wrapper. This is a locally adaptable software module that enables individuals to enter into relationships with absolute assurance that their digital identities, privacy, and security will be protected under terms they can personally shape and control.

trust frameworks and trust wrappers.. seem anti-trust .. i don’t know. and how to get absolute assurance..?

did like the references to bricolage..

personal data lockers..that have multiple rings of protection and no single-point solution for gaining access.

if it can be locked up.. it can be broken into.. top notch security not the deepest problem.. (or ever solvable.. no?) people happily usefully preoccupied.. so that they aren’t interested in stealing your stuff.. how do we get there. no?

personal data storage.. perhaps..?


data ness