Higgins Trust Framework

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Higgins trust framework is an open source framework that enables users and other systems to integrate identity, profile, and relationship information across multiple heterogeneous systems.

URL = http://www.eclipse.org/higgins/


From the Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higgins_trust_framework

"Higgins enables developers to write to a common Identity Management API, rather than needing to support multiple identity management systems individually. Software applications written to Higgins will allow people to store their digital identities and profile information in places of their choice and to share the stored information with companies and other parties in a controlled fashion. The Higgins Project was created by SocialPhysics.org and is receiving contributions from IBM and Novell. Higgins used to be called Eclipse trust framework, and is a project of the Eclipse Foundation." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higgins_trust_framework)


"The Higgins Project is named after the Tasmanian long-tailed Higgins mouse (not the butler character of the same name from the 1980s TV series Magnum, P.I.). According to a press release, the moniker reflects today's 'long tail' of micro-markets that complement traditional industries - such as new markets revolving around online auctions - and the fact that those markets will benefit from greater online collaboration." (http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2006/02/28/higgins/)


Why Higgins is important for Identity

Bas Reus:

" Higgins is an open-source 'user-centric' identity management. Higgins breaks a person's identity into pieces, allowing users to dictate who can access parts of their identity information, within applicable privacy guidelines and laws. Organizations using applications built with Higgins open source tools can share specific identity information, such as their telephone number or buying preferences, according to rules set by the individual.

If Higgins is successful and adopted by mass customizers, this will mean a large boost for mass customization." (http://bottomup.wordpress.com/2006/06/20/identity-management-to-solve-mass-confusion/)

Implications for Business

Higgins would allow mass customization, but under the control of the customer:

"The optimal situation would be if the vendor could draw on an existing profile of my preferences, generated by shopping and configuring at other companies in the past, but also fine-tuned by my own feedback and demands. Such a profile would contain information about past purchases, configurations, measurements, allergies, socio-demographical data, and, of course, address and payment data. Another element of such a profile could be my previous search terms at Google and alike, representing the "Database of my intentions", as John Battle has called it in the great book "The Search" .

In short, such a profile would represent my (virtual) identity. This idea of such a unique user profile, representing the identity of a customer, is pretty old and has been discussed many times in the context of personalization and customization. And there were many commercial attempts to generate and manage such a universal user profile, like Firefly, Microsoft passport, or Sun Microsystems-led Liberty Alliance. All failed due to missing trust by users: You may trust Amazon to build such a profile of your media preferences supporting its recommendation engine, but most users do not trust Microsoft to build such a profile for their entire personal lives.

the Eclipse open source foundation's Higgins project, aims to give people more control over how their personal information is used online and aims to develop so-called 'user-centric' identity management. Rather than big corporations managing identity data, the user-centric identity management approach puts individual users in the driving seat. They shall be able to decide what information they want shared with trusted websites that use Higgins-derived software.

Open Source Aspects

Xavier Gerard:

"Higgins seems to be completely compatible with a Open Source approach. The eclipse foundation is worlwide known as a famous supporter of this approach, and reliable. A lot of entreprise use for example their Eclipse Framework in order to manage development jobs (I work with eclipse every day). The Higgins approach seems to share completely the spirit of Open Source: it is designed to be able interact with a maximum of protocols, and uses itself other open source components and standards. I could thus be certainly reusable for other look-alike projects." (email, June 2009)

More Information

See our entries on Trust and Identity.

More info at http://www.eclipse.org/higgins/