Reading through The Metaverse by Matthew Ball - Identity
Updated: Aug 18, 2022
Identity... Lost and Found
The concept of a person's digital identity is very complex, and has evolved in such a haphazard way over time. Ball seems to recognize it as an issue (it is really the #2 issue for creating the Metaverse.) Right now, the concept of a digital identity is missing from the Internet standards. Only at "the Application Layer" do we start to see how your identity is conveyed from one service to another. We are beginning to create laws to protect our data, and to some degree our digital identity. One of the problems is that we don't define our own identity. That job is left to "identity providers." This will have to change in the Metaverse. Identity is so intertwined with ownership and security, that all three need to be worked out together. Another big problem is that the Internet conflates an address with an identity (both the MAC address and the IP address are forced to serve as identities and addresses at times.) Blockchain is exasperating this by continuing to use the wallet "address" as a form of identity. Ball has the keen insight that identity is also related to the trail of actions and data one leaves behind.
Right now, you are probably most familiar with your digital identity as your email address. Again, mixing up an address with an identity. Why do we use the email address? Because we have created a system that forces an email address to be unique across the world, across all email service providers. I'm sure there have been times where you've created a second email address, or a temporary one, rIght? Still, unique. So, if you use one for your Amazon account, and another for your Instagram account, they don't know it is the same person. And maybe you want it that way. Maybe not.
So how will we deal with this? Each person should be the source of their identity. Each step, choice in the m'verse will link back to that identity in a trustworthy way. There may be different "roles" you take, like wife, mother of two, a customer of Amazon, an account holder of Google services, an employee of Ford, a seller on E-Bay, an owner of NFT's, a player of the latest Riot / Tencent game, on and on.
Currently, service providers insist that you give your identity to them in the way they prefer, or else they won't provide you services or products. There may be this tension for many parts of the m'verse. But there also may be a new identity providing service vertical, which enables you to manage your identity and provide the info you want to potential vendors in a more secure, more automated way. Let's see what happens!