Digital ID January 15, 2007Posted by Andre Vellino in Digital Identity, Digital library, DRM, Personal identity.
I sometimes think that there are no (or very few) really new ideas, just better versions of old ones. The iPod is a better Walkman and the Walkman was a better record-player. Perhaps blogs are just a better (or just updated?) version of the Gutenberg printing press.
I am new to the digital library scene, so I’m not sure about this, but I have this sense that one of the stumbling blocks to progress is the tension between copyright owners (e.g. authors and publishers) and the libraries that are in charge of collecting content and distributing it. Perhaps this tension could be resolved (somewhat) if the old idea of a library loan for a physical book / or journal article, with all the concomitant constraints – primarily “due dates” and “number of copies available for loan” – was updated with a digital counterpart.
The lynchpin of a digital rights management system for libraries is a cryptographically trustworthy method of creating and managing digital identities. If digital libraries could reliably and securely identify me, I think I would be quite happy to have a digital library card that entitles me to “borrow” only a fixed number of books or journals for a fixed period of time. Making it hard (or expensive) for me to reproduce these digital objects is acceptable if I also have the freedom to access them at any time.
There have been several attempts to create ubiquitous identity management systems: Microsoft’s Hailstorm project in 2001, Sun’s federated identity alternative (“Liberty Alliance 2.0” is in the making), as well as open source (such as OpenID) and commercial systems (such as pingID.) I don’t know how much longer it will be before we can all have a useful digital ID, but I’m hoping that the identity gang or the Higgins project have (some of) the answers. I want to liberate knowledge from the shackles of copyright as much as the next Netizen, but in the meantime, I’ll settle for a digital ID system.