Discussion on the need for Group Identity
Using "Entities" in Identity Systems
Silona on why identity systems should be based on 'entities':
"We can take things a step back. An entity can be a person, group, band, affiliation, business - whatever. You can then add differentiation architecture on top of that. Things that identify what KIND of entity they are and create special datastructures for each. It allows for growth and expansion.
We are social creatures and act more within these other expanded structures than just a friend to friend model. A friend to friend model has a limit of 150 (dunbar number.) With group associations (and such), we can expand that network. It is one reason myspace is successful despite its horrid interface.
Why We need Group Identities
"We need a proper space to communities and organizations on the net. I believe only the Identity Commons initiatives include the possibility to name organizations (using the @ sign). The ability to properly identity groups of people is an essential building block of the net as a social networking tool. I would not call it “entity” because it reminds me too much of the concept of legal entity, I used the word “community” because of my open money bias, but now I think the neutral word “group” would be more suitable because it does not imply anything about the relationship between the members (more adapted to things like: employees and ex-employees of a given company, participants to a conference, users of a system, etc.).
The context in which I envisioned the need to properly identify groups of people on the net is open money. Open money is about creating a commons platform where anyone can create a complementary currency such as LETS system, time dollars, and other kinds. With such platform we imagine that many small-scale currencies will be created here and there while people learn what complementary currencies are and what can be done with them. Some currencies will be very successful while other may just die off after their creation. In this dynamic it is essential that the platform properly supports the lifecycle of a currency. Currency termination should be supported, but currency merging is also an important feature if we want to allow dynamics where currencies of the same type want to become “one” because if would make things much easier (just like the Euro has been the joining of several national currencies). Currency aggregation could be another feature that would enable other kinds of dynamics.
The reason I explain this is because you can derive important requirements for “group-based” identity schemes that aim to be a generic building block on the net. The features of such component will be very influential in the way social dynamics develop on the net. Let me just provide a list of requirements to be considered:
- group naming and identification
- individuals can belong to multiple groups
- groups can be part of other groups
- groups can be merged together (either to a new one or into one of them)
- queries such as intersection and union
- polymorphism so that groups can be considered as individuals in certain situations"