Speaker Spotlight

EIC Speaker Spotlight: Doc Searls

You as an individual have sovereignty and agency. When you put your shoes on in the morning, when you drive your car, when you ride your bicycle, we don't have that much yet on the internet, we don't have our own bicycle. We don't have our own car. We have a different one for every website that we go to. We have no more privacy than what websites and services provide separately. We don't have any scale across all of them. We're always agreeing to terms that other parties are offering to us and giving us very few choices about how we answer and no records of that. And that's because we're always thinking that whatever we have as an individual is up to a company. And there are so many companies that we're dealing with as individuals that we don't have scale. We don't have full agency. We have no more agency than what the companies provide for us.
That's too much responsibility for companies and it's not cut. It's not responsibility that they necessarily want. It's too much. Why should you have to keep records of all these preferences, all these different things. It doesn't make any sense that, you know, you should be able as an individual because you have agency to change your address, to, to change your last name, to have a shopping cart you could take from site to site for the good of the companies that you're dealing with. You know, that's, that's something that works for people and it works for companies as well. And that's why we need agency. We haven't had it yet online. We created the online environment more or less on the old industrial model. And you know, where we had to have scale. Every, every company separately needed all the scale. It could get across all the customers that they wanted and to hold that scale exclusively. So customers had no way to move from company to company or site, to site with their own tools where they could, you know, they could deal at scale, they have a browser, but the browser's all they got really, you know, it, it, after that, it's up to the company to remember who was that? That's a cookie I put in your browser. You know, the customer should have more independence than that. And that independence should pay off for the companies. And we don't have it yet. That's a big to do
The business value and decentralized identity, which I think of as distributed identity, by the way, it is, is independence for the customer. It's independence for the individual it's it's that everybody has the capacity to obey all of Kim Cameron's original seven laws of identity, minimum disclosure for constrained purpose, justifiable parties, plurality of operators. Those things are all really good for business and we don't have them yet. And we don't have the tools on our side. We need wallets of our own or something. That's like a wallet that is our instrument for making verifiable claims and presenting verifiable credentials that can be verified easily and minimally disclosed. We don't, there's a lot of thought and a lot of development that's going into, how do we make this work on the corporate side? I haven't seen enough on my side, on the individual side that I just have to have that wallet.
That's that's a great wallet. I have that. What can I put in that wallet? You know, you know, where have I seen this company before? What's my relationship with them? Where did I get these credentials? What are those? I shouldn't have to think about any of that. And I think in the abstract, it all works, but we need to make it work in the concrete and is never going to work. Unless we have something that is an app on the front page of our phones, something, that's a body function for us. Like our wallets are in our back pockets and our purses and like apps are on our phones. We need those. There are some in the world. Now there are some SSI wallets, but we need, we need ones that are what I call inventions. That mother necessity. You have to have them take one, look at it and say, I gotta have that. I gotta have that. That's gonna save me all kinds of trouble.
I would suggest that companies go to their employees and say, don't think of yourself as an employee. Think of yourself as a customer or a user. If you don't have customers, you just have consumers. They don't pay anything, but you have them. What would you want? That works? Not only for this company, but for every company you deal with, what gives you scale? What can we do with in cooperation with every other company out there that's going to give you scale as a person, not just as an employee, but as a person and especially think of how do we not trap customers? How do we not put them into a walled garden or into a silo? How do we liberate them? So they can deal in a more efficient and useful way with all the companies they deal with and look at what the fundamentals of SSI are and how they would work with that. But how do we put that to use in the world for you as an individual and get all of the input you possibly can? Because I guarantee that the employees of your company know more about what they would want as individuals operating in the world than the company could begin to guess at
The main risk is getting left behind on something that will be universal. Eventually it's like 1991 and we don't have the browser yet, but the internet is already here. We are all gonna be using the internet. Something like the browser is going to show up. Everybody's gonna have one. Are you just going to put a brochure on the web and say, I'm gonna hand that off to the marketing department, or are you gonna base the whole world, your entire company on what the internet is going to do for you, that everybody can see through their browser? That's, that's the future we're going to have with SSI. We are going to have self-sovereign customers. They are going to present verifiable credentials to your company and to other companies. And you're gonna participate in that. How do you get involved in that? We don't have the browser yet.
And I don't think we do. We don't have the equivalent of the browser for SSI. We're going to have the equivalent of a browser, probably a number of things that might be like a browser, but it'll play the role of a browser in the sense that it's something. I have a better example, maybe an email client, you know, we all ha we all had, I mean, if you were fluent in basic computer, use mutt and pine and, and things that worked in, in a, in the command line, and then later say Udo that you could use as a, as an email client. This is long before Google sort of normalized it with Gmail, but you could still take your mail off Gmail and put it on your own server. And people are going to have their own instruments for expressing their, their self sovereign identities and, and really identifiers.
You know, again, I have verifiable credentials, I'm going to present, you know, I go to the, I go to the concert and all you need to know is I have a ticket. I just flash something on my phone. You've got a ticket. You get in. We have some of that right now with QR codes. I went to a game the other day and showed a QR code, got in no problem that starts to get there, but that's not. That's a form of SSI, but that's one company's way of presenting. You know, that's one B2B solution that happens to work in a B2C way. We need the C to B solutions that browsers or C2 B, they're not B2C. We don't have a different browser for every company we deal with. We have one browser we deal with, with every company of what email account we deal with with every company.
We have one SMS client that we use to deal with every company. We have one phone number that we give when a phone number's required as an identifier. Those are examples of scale. We should have many, many other kinds of scale, but you can't begin to see that if you're only looking at it at an individualized B to C way, you're gonna have to imagine the future where every one of us has. Self-sovereign ways to present verifiable credentials that work across the whole world in a normalized way. And where does your company play in that? And I think right now, it, the way to play in it is jump in with a whole lot of other companies they're doing are doing base level work on common protocols, the standards and ways to make this new industry scaffold itself up, get together with other companies on that base level stuff.
I, I hope to achieve as I've tried to do. I think with every keynote I've given there, going back to the beginning, full respect for what can only be solved from the individual side. There's so many business problems that can only be solved from the customer side. And, and I think with SSI, especially, we finally have a lot of activity around that, but I'm still not seeing enough. That starts with the individual that says, how do we get this person scale? How do we, how do we make this work across entire markets and across the entire world? How can we start equipping them individuals as ways to manage their lives? We've barely thought that out. You know, I mean, Google and apple provide calendars and contacts. And so does Microsoft, but they're not exactly compatible. They're very siloed. I, you know, we really need to be, that's our personal data.
We're always talking about personal data. What, you know, company's harvesting personal data. The personal data that matters are my health by finances. What I own by contacts, my calendar, nobody has solved these yet. And there's standards laying around in the world. Phil Windley is here. He'll tell you about Picos and other things. I suggest you talk to him. If I was 25 years old right now, I would start with Picos. I would start with things that people own. How do we make owning things a lot easier? How do we make communicating with companies easier about what we own outside of company's separate silos that, that plays into SSI that plays into I go to the store and I say, yeah, I'm a member of this. I already have this. I already bought this one. You know, I go, did I buy this? Did I buy this keyboard?
I have a box over there. We're moving right now. We're that has three keyboards. I didn't even know I had these. Okay. If I knew I had those, my life would be simpler. I wouldn't have bought another one the other day. Right. That, but I don't know those things, cuz I don't have record of that. Right? When I get the receipt, I should put it through something that remembers it. Nobody's thinking about these things or if they are, they're not gaining any scale, give people scale around, controlling their lives that we have the internet. Now we have digital technology. Now we're all digital beings. Give us ways that we can manage our lives and, and fire marketing, get 'em out of the room because they're only thinking still like how do we find out all about what the customer wants for one company, a piece, get rid of that, you know, just think about what the customer needs. You're a customer. Everybody here is a customer. Think about what you could use in your life that you don't have right now that gives you scale across every company you deal with in ways that are useful to those companies where they're gonna appreciate getting just a verifiable credential that says, yeah, I bought this before I belong to this. I, I have a warranty, lots of things like that, but in a standard way across all the companies you're dealing with that is the frontier.

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