sharp bend road sign

The critique of self-sovereign identity (SSI) has elicited this kind of response a few times now, a reaction pointing at if not acclaiming the huge effort that has gone into getting 'digital identity' this far. I've had it via the ProjectVRM Harvard mailing list, during the session on generative identity at the recent Internet Identity Workshop, and in private exchanges.

This cannot constitute a rational response to a critique but it is an understandable one, as many of my interlocutors recognize; there is a lot of emotional energy invested in such deep and long-term work. Open collaborators such as Doc Searls, Joyce Searls, and Drummond Reed, and it seems to me Phil Windley, appreciate the journey for all its twists and turns, but others — perhaps on visualizing some imminent arrival at some desired destination — respond differently.

I can only guess but such a mindset appears to have contributed to a recent eight-post retort from one thought leader. Eight posts in a row! To be honest, this particular response is perhaps more personal for some reason going back, as far as I can tell, to January when she told the mailing list:

I'm kinda done with the trolling on 15 years worth of really hard [work] to get to where we are with a guy showing up to tell us all that it isn't "generative" enough.

It is a shame when a deep domain expert feels they have to rubbish a challenge from outside "the community" with assertions that the challenger is ignorant of the technology in question, but that's the credential with which she would badge me.

Clearly she and I will never collaborate if only because I so dislike ad hominem discourse. And it's easy to get dragged down by it. I responded less than admirably in a previous exchange by noting this individual's deep domain expertise in legal (noun-like) identity but having a poor grasp otherwise. My poor choice of words. I should have at least qualified that this is my perception of her reluctance to engage in meaningful discussion of the critique, but perhaps this is just her style — the eight posts consist of a catalogue of her expertise lest anyone be confused, repeated assertions of how she knew everything about the critique and its sources before I wrote it, and how she was going to write something about emergence soon enough.

While Kaliya gives me no indication that she has sensed let alone understood the distressing emergent ramifications of self-sovereign identity I try to illuminate, I can only hope for a ninth post in which she starts to grapple with its current innate malignancy.

Photo by Jim Wilson.