This entire fall has been intense with work, thus the paucity of posts here. The holidays brings a welcome respite and a chance to catch up with a few key mental threads.
One of them is the growing awareness of the need for what the VRM community calls personal data stores (PDS). The concept is relatively simple: an online store for your own personal data — anything from classic PII (personally identifiable information), such as your identity and contact data, to any other data that you generate or control (files, blog posts, pictures, papers, music, videos, etc.)
Three things have surprised me about PDS:
- How generally accepted the notion is by almost anyone who spends much time online, even folks well outside the identity community. It’s a relatively intuitive idea as soon as you understand the basic premise that individual people should have their own data source online.
- How many names have been applied to the same general concept. As I indicated, PDS is only the term applied by the VRM community. The same general concept has been called probably a dozen other names. Here’s an excellent blog post by Mark Dixon that calls it a Personal Identity-Persona Service and a Security Identity Bank Vault.
- How hard it is to implement. Though there have been several attempts, such as the Mine! Project, nothing has come remotely close to catching on yet.
I have several theses as to why this is so (and yes, the need for a Internet data sharing standard like XDI is high on the list), but I’ll save those for another blog post.
Here, I’ll just conclude with a simple prediction: it’s a threshold problem. Once the first practical solution for PDS starts to take hold, it will catch on and grow just like the first social networks did. The only question is what application will provide that initial traction.