Monthly Archives: August 2007

The physical location of data matters

What follows is actually a portion of an email I wrote earlier this summer, but the principle it is attempting to pin down came up again today in an analysis of government requirements for identity systems. It keeps coming up. I’m posting it in hopes of sparking a link or thought to take it farther.

There are a few slogans I have accumulated over the years that I think are worth repeating. One is “working code wins”. Another is more subtle, but I think it was at the root of many important lessons we learned in distributed directory services development and deployments. It applies to most distributed systems that appear as a seamless whole, and I also think it affects designs for everything from file system ACLs to the ASP business model. The problem is that there can be very subtle problems in these systems based on where a policy is actually stored, who can access the policy, what is the security for retrieving the policy, etc.

And the slogan sounds very silly. It is “the physical location of the data matters”.

summer end clouds It’s really an identity issue. Any distributed system has to account for the identities of the constituent parts that run the system. Even the book I’m reading (“Code 2.0” by Lessig) is discussing how we often think of cyberspace as a separate space from the real world. It is not. His point is that there are legal interactions between them. My experience is that there are physical, and especially administrative, interactions. The two are often intertwined and we need to be aware of how they are intertwined. It is not like the Matrix, or the Metaverse; it matters to me in real, tangible ways who runs the servers and where my data is stored ‑‑ and who is liable when there is a failure.

The photo is not much related to the slogan, though it is of a physical location where I’d like my personal data to spend more time.

Fashions in information card beachware

beachware sunsetIt’s the end of summer. It tends to make me feel a little nostalgic even though I always enjoy the change in the feel of the light and air as autumn hints. Or maybe it’s just the pollen from that damn Russian Thistle that makes me feel different.

It’s also back-to-school time at my house. Mechanical pencils, 3-ring binders, and new clothes. My youngest two children each moved up a school. They always seem to get a cold in the first weeks of school and this year is no exception.

digitalme shirt backdigitalme shirt frontMeanwhile I’m getting excited about the progress and next steps for the Bandit project. There has been a lot of vacation time for the Bandit team this summer, but a surprising amount of work got done as well. This Fall is time to show it and put it into real use.

information card shirt frontinformation card shirt backMaybe it’s the thoughts of vacation and next steps for the Bandit project that caused these photos to catch my eye. They are from a trip to Cabo San Lucas in July. They show something of what was on my mind then: sun, beer, beach, identity systems, and Lessig’s Code 2.0 (very highly recommended). Thanks to Mike for the information card shirt. I try to wear it in compliance with the logo usage guidelines, but I think I probably sometimes stand too close to other images and I spilled some salsa on it. I’ll keep working on it. The DigitalMe shirt is an old one from 1999 that I kept because I liked the logo. It’s amazing how some things come back into fashion.

summer readingNow back to real work. Stay tuned. Some Really Good Stuff is coming due to collaboration of many projects in building the Internet identity fabric.