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  Friday, November 29, 2002

David Weinberger refers to a piece Eric Norlin Writes:

I would argue that the questions that the technology world should be focused on are questions about the degrees of anonymity. If we are to have truly meaningful discussions about this subject, we must become more subtle in our understanding of anonymity and privacy.

Eric, I've been thinking about Identity a lot lately, after seeing the Identity Theft Ring Busted in the news last week. If a helpdesk guy can give out the essential elements of "what identifies a person" (my words) and with those small bits capture money, credit and other essential facets of commerce performed in everyday life, then it's time we changed the system in a drastic way.

Anonymity will be something people give up in order to preserve personal identity. To me identity in commerce means my credit is based on me and my family, my reputation should be my responsibility. Letting others bandy my reputation about will damage my ability to do commerce, either directly or virtually. Others will feel the same way, I believe. (That said, I do enjoy some anonymity in the virtual realm as well as on the street, and would like to encourage the concept while facing the harsh reality of this tradeoff:)

I believe some of the aspects that pit anonymity against the current trend are:

1. Control of Identity - We need to better control what identity bits large firms have about us, who they give them to, when and why. A simple example - when I went to buy my house, I found my credit records linked to a card I got from my parents when I was in College, ten years prior. Dad still had the same card, and the spending on it was affecting my credit (not terribly, but in a real way). In some ways, we'll have to manage our own records by contacting agencies and attempting to correct the imperfections, but in general, they seem under no obligation to accept your corrections, or to get the records right in the first place.

2. More specific ties of your physical person to your identity - Let's face it, if you had to give your finger print, retinal scan, or even have your photo on every card, there'd be a lot less of the kind of scams we read about. Once our bank card was taken, and before you could say Bill Gates, someone had gone to the bank posing as my wife, "deposited" a check and asked for cash back, on both our checking and savings accounts, for $2900 each. This is because at the bank in question, at $3000 the teller had to check the signature.

The government has been looking at things like "e-DNA" to track people's identity in everything they do on line. This kind of concept, I believe, scares all but the most trusting believer in the statement of "J. Edgar was just looking out for the public when he kept all those files on everyone."

There's obviously more, and people like Eric are the ones who spend a lot more time thinking about it than I do. I hope I can continue to add to the dialog.


10:08:02 PM    comment []

That Funny Itch in my Wallet Region

I haven't been blogging in a week or two. Been feeling down. I wasn't sure what it was - bloggeritis? The impending 'holiday season' and all the associated madness? Too much work at work?

Then Tom got me thinking. And suddenly I knew. The feeling was coming from my Wallet! It was Pent Up Consumer Demand! (PUCD). All this money I've been saving for a rainy day was making me feel...uncomfortable. I had an ache in my patriotic bone, knowing that I had not been properly stimulating our economy. So when I heard about the specials that stores would be running this holiday season, I decided to replace some essentials.

Today I feel great. When I decided to do the shopping spree, it was all or nothing, baby. I joined the ranks of the consumer-shopping-frenzied-insane-assholes who show up at the store at 7am for the deals on inventory companies don't want anymore!

And boy, was it fun! I got stuff I needed, and helped major corporations heal their balance sheets by reducing inventories and increasing cash flow! No more PUCD!

The Epson 780 printer that I've been using really sucks. Actually, it's the ink. The printer prints fine. But if I don't use it every day, the ink seems to dry out, leaving the printer with terrible streaks. I then have to run a 'head cleaning' cycle, which uses up ink, in order to use more ink. Good bye Epson, hello, HP 940c, which got a lot of good Epinions and was on sale today at Staples for $39 after rebate!

Now onto the scanner - my old Agfa SnapScan 310 is actually fine, but it's got a pretty low resolution, and no drivers for WindowXP. In fact, the SCSI card I have for it doesn't have XP drivers either, so it's been running on a spare machine. Hell with that! Hello, Visioneer USB 5800 [epinions], also on sale at Staples.

While I was giddly jockying for position with the other early shoppers frantically searching the aisles for deals (Quant. 25 per store only! While Supplies Last! Brands vary by region! Your Mileage may Vary!) I also picked up some blank CD-Rs (free after rebate!), 50 3.5" floppies (you never have a blank one when you need one, you know?), a USB 2.0 Hub (I only have USB 1.1 but I'll have 2.0 one day, I know!) and a pencil sharpener for the wife.

Boy, I wish everything had rebates! I feel like buying 10 cars, taking the $1000 cash back on each, and buying an extra car with the savings! Well, one can dream...

When my spree was done, my wallet was a lot lighter. The pain was gone. And now the stock market will come back, and all will be right with the world.

And in just 8 to 10 weeks, rebate checks will flood my mailbox and refresh my bank account with the money I didn't really spend

Just in time for President's Day Sales, I'll stave off my next bout of PUCD!  

10:53:58 AM    comment []

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