October 4, 2010
transferrable identity

Web 3.0: It Should Be About Transferrable Identity

A well-established research firm recently asked for my thoughts on Web 3.0.

My answer was a bit of a surprise to the researchers seeing as I choose “D – None of the Above”.

Whereas in the telecom space, there is consensus with the definitions of 2G, 3G, 3G+ and 4G networks, I’m not entirely certain if Web 3.0 has mass acceptance as a ‘standard’, so to say, in the technology space. Opinions of an actual Web 3.0 definition can range from referring to it as the ‘semantic web’, to the ‘intelligent web’, to ‘time and space improvements’, to ‘content relevance’.

The most overused and overshared graphic is found below. It provides some context, and it’s helpful, but I believe we’re missing the point on what we need before a semantic, intelligent content relevant Web 3.0 definition can be solidified.

I’m certain I’m out on a limb on this one, but I believe it needs to first start with what I call ‘transferrable identity’.

Let’s imagine a typical organization for a moment. In order to fully participate in the daily, weekly, and quarterly objectives driven pulse of that organization, one requires his/her identity to move from application to application … from opportunity to opportunity.

This is the reason somebody developed single sign on capabilities.

No one employee wants to have to log into various and disparate applications to perform their work, connect with colleagues, share knowledge, etc. In fact, the harder it is, the less likely employees are engaged, share, collaborate, and so on. What companies are moving towards are ways in which the DNA of employees are captured (skills, talents, projects, colleagues, etc.) and levered throughout other federated applications.


In a nutshell, it’s time consuming to have employees working in multiple ERP or Talent Management System-like applications. Having it single-sourced, with single sign on throughout the network creates not only efficiencies, but more manageable ways in which to connect, share, collaborate, learn, etc. In essence, organizations have or are moving to ‘transferrable identity’ because it makes sense from an ‘economies of scale’ perspective as well. Why would I ‘type’ my details into multiple applications? It’s as silly as Liverpool ever winning the English Premiership again (the Toronto Maple Leafs the Stanley Cup for my Canadian friends), but I digress.

Shift over to the consumer side of Web 2.0 for a moment.

Do we have ‘transferrable identity’?

No, we do not.

We do not have a centrally stored place in which I can store my details, and have those follow me from application to application. I have to, sadly, provide my details into various Ning sites, iTunes/Ping, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, MSN, YouTube, Air Canada, British Airways, and just about every other Web 2.0 application I’m a part of.

What if, hypothetically stating, the 20-30 largest consumer based Web 2.0 providers actually got together and developed a standard that allowed me to have my ‘transferrable identity’ established in a single repository, and when I needed it for any application, I could tap into it.

Now, with my head squarely fixed on the angles of Enterprise 2.0, Web 2.0 and Learning 2.0, I see humongous benefit to the education sector as well. K-12 and Higher Education could tap into this ‘transferrable identify’ as we shift the education continuum to become more in line with the 21st century, and my marks, my DNA, my skills, my experience, my personal traits, and so on can follow me wherever I go. (even if I switch schools, switch cities, switch to home schooling, whatever)

Pipe dream? Maybe.

Microsoft, I believe, tried to start this with Passport, but as usual, their myopic thinking into a system that benefits only Microsoft based applications is and was their undoing.

If the top 20-30 firms got together and agreed on a) what ‘transferrable identity’ is and b) agreed on a way in which to make it happen, not only would they make me and millions of other people happy, they would be saving the planet trillions of hours of lost time typing in the exact same information for multiple entities.

And that’s about when the research firm stated “why did we ask you?”

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