Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Gravity is a myth - the Earth sucks

You only ever experience gravity when you resist it. As you sit in a chair reading this, the chair pushes back against you as gravity pulls you down. You can literally feel gravity in the 'seat of your pants'.

If you ever given in completely to gravity (by skydiving for instance) then during that period you are effectively free of its experience (because there is nothing to push back on you while you are falling). Gravity is of course still present, but you don't 'feel' it (you will of course 'feel it in the morning' if your chute doesn't open).

So it is with identity policy defaults. A user can choose to 'go with the flow' and take the defaults for identity release as offered. For these users, the experience of managing their privacy will be minimal, insulated from the details and logistics by such default policies. These are the free-fallers - they choose not to actively resist and so will not so directly 'experience' privacy.

Other users will choose to become an 'active steward' of their privacy, and continuously manage the release of their attributes. Such users will have a real and constant experience of privacy. Like a couch-potato and gravity, they will be constantly reminded of privacy because of the day-to-day reminders they will receive.

A 'good' implementation/deployment of an identity system will protect the free-fallers (those who go with the flow) with defaults that provide appropriate levels of privacy protection 'out of the box'; while enabling the couch-potatoes with suitable controls, interfaces, and mechanisms for actively managing their privacy.

This insight is more 'general' than 'special', but 'relative' all the same.


Conor P. Cahill said...

Paul, you need to read up on terminal velocity. You do feel gravity when skydiving (just not at the begining of the fall) because there is something that resists your acceleration due to gravity -- air.

steve said...

Then again, since you were obviously speaking more generally than that, perhaps researching 'terminal velocity' in the hope that it would in some way help you to illistrate your point would be a criminal waste of time, energy, and resources.