Why do you care about identity?

I have always given a damn about digital identity.

Hi. I’m Phil Wolff. And this is a personal note to start my year.

I love that digital identity tries to answer deep philosophical questions. What does it mean to be human? How do we trust ourselves and each other? What is the reality we agree on? What is personal integrity? What helps civilization and a civil society endure? What is fairness and justice?

I love that it’s more than a technical discussion. It’s laws. Sociology. Politics and civics. Commerce. Psychology. Ethics. History. Economy. All the humanities.

Identity touches everything. It always will. Computation and communication continue their pervasion, and identity spreads with them.  

Identity ships. I like that a few standards folks have the power to turn grand ideas into covenants into engineering protocols. To settle things for everyone for a while. To versioning something pragmatic that others can build from and evolve.

Shaping identity is a human endeavor. I like the geeky and artistic communities that emerge for a while around problems and opportunities. We show the best of ourselves. Comradery while tackling authenticity and the unidentified. Courage taking on concentrations of power. Conviction while building safety and security for all. Grit for persevering through long slogs to make stuff work.

So I’m passionate for digital identity’s formative process, its purpose, and its impact on our world.

That’s why I organized online for data portability as a human right (DataPortability Project). Why I literally marched on Oakland City Hall for privacy and joined police in working out a surveillance policy (Oakland Privacy). Why I promoted open data and open source in civic projects at more than 150 civic hack nights (OpenOakland). Why I fostered identity-centric startups (PDEC). Why I consult on identity as transformational strategy here with Wider Team.

Since 2021, I’ve worked with standards bodies on digital identity in clinical IoT, trust governance, decentralization and fiduciaries, and biometrics. I hope to continue these efforts along with the growing cadre who focus on the intersection of technology, society, and enterprise.

Have a healthy and impactful 2022, y’all.

signed, Phil

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