Name “the thing”

During one of the conferences last year, Bob made some interesting points regarding adoption of new technologies. As a general rule, they need to be

  • easy to describe
  • easy to get
  • easy for first time use.

Given the above guidelines, I believe we still have some work to do when it comes to describing Information Cards (or whatever “the thing” is).

The card metaphor has been there for a while. I believe we all understand fairly well the concept of physical cards in our wallet and how to pick one based on the context. However, explaining how that can be mapped to the digitial world has been challenging.

In conversations with technologists, implementers, early adopters, consumers, I have seen the use of following terms interchangeably and therefore spending the first part of the discussions in getting the terminology right.

  • Information Card
  • InfoCard
  • CardSpace
  • Self Issued Card
  • Managed Card
  • Personal Card
  • Password Card
  • p-card, pcard
  • m-card, mcard
  • i-card, icard
  • h-card, hcard, Higgins card
  • r-card, rcard, Relationship card,
  • a-card, acard, Action Card
  • IMI Cards
  • Digital Cards, Identity Cards…
  • and my favorite – “the thing”

This, in addition to the basic identity terminology (IdP, RP, AP, SP, Selector, Client, Agent, Active, Passive…) and multiple protocols doesn’t make things easy.

I understand there are multiple things that are being described here – the protocol, the GUI Metaphor, the token format, the blob that the user stores on his PC and so forth. I also understand the need of innovation and may be it’s too early to agree on a single terminology. But if the techonology does get some success and the branding people start joining the discussions, it’s only going to get tougher.

So…here is my request to ICF:
“Get an agreement on the basic naming conventions, share the results and stick to it.”

2 Responses to “Name “the thing””

  1. Too bad the world is not that simple. There were branding people in the discussions from the start. Some of the terms are trademarks, others are owned by entities that want to make the term mean _THEIR_ version, others are OK for slang, but not OK for an official name, others are too long to be continuously pronounced. Still others connote a type of information card that are different from other types. I listed the basic naming conventions in a popup on the front page of the ICF website on Day 1 (6/25/08).

    Information Card: official name; covers all card types.

    InfoCard and i-card: acceptable slang (at least it was the first 90 days).

    Self-issued card: one you make yourself with self-asserted claims.

    Managed card: card managed by an identity provider.

    CardSpace: the name of Microsoft’s Identity Selector.

    The other terms have no official bearing, but [r]-card where [r] is some letter connoting a particular kind of card with different abilities, may likely emerge, as there will be cards with unique attributes shared within a subclass of cards.

    As with most metasystems, terms like IdP or RP are chosen because they describe a concept sufficiently general to cover a class of things.

    As with most brands, a specific instance of a thing (i.e. a commercial product from Company X.com) will have a unique name.

    And with anything as generally applicable as an Identity metasystem, there are bound to be:
    (a) multiple terms for the same thing.
    (b) terms that are meaningless outside the context of the implementors.
    (c) brand names
    (d) new categories of things (think Gartner Magic Quadrant instance x — Invent x and you invent a new market.

    Speaking of official bearing, I do not have one, but I was present at the creation, and tried to reign this problem in at the beginning.

  2. Too bad the world is not that simple. There were branding people in the discussions from the start. Some of the terms are trademarks, others are owned by entities that want to make the term mean _THEIR_ version, others are OK for slang, but not OK for an official name, others are too long to be continuously pronounced. Still others connote a type of information card that are different from other types. I listed the basic naming conventions in a popup on the front page of the ICF website on Day 1 (6/25/08).

    Information Card: official name; covers all card types.

    InfoCard and i-card: acceptable slang (at least it was the first 90 days).

    Self-issued card: one you make yourself with self-asserted claims.

    Managed card: card managed by an identity provider.

    CardSpace: the name of Microsoft’s Identity Selector.

    The other terms have no official bearing, but [r]-card where [r] is some letter connoting a particular kind of card with different abilities, may likely emerge, as there will be cards with unique attributes shared within a subclass of cards.

    As with most metasystems, terms like IdP or RP are chosen because they describe a concept sufficiently general to cover a class of things.

    As with most brands, a specific instance of a thing (i.e. a commercial product from Company X.com) will have a unique name.

    And with anything as generally applicable as an Identity metasystem, there are bound to be:
    (a) multiple terms for the same thing.
    (b) terms that are meaningless outside the context of the implementors.
    (c) brand names
    (d) new categories of things — think Gartner Magic Quadrant instance x — Invent x and you invent a new market.

    +1 Ashish — ICF should try again to reign this in. A.I. Drummond.

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