The Identity Ecosystem Steering Group kickoff meeting – day 1

Yesterday was the first day of the kickoff meeting for the Identity Ecosystem Steering Group. The IESG (which unfortunately has the same abbreviation as the more-well-known Internet Engineering Steering Group). The IESG (which one I'll leave as an exercise for the reader) was formed by NIST as part of their National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace initiative, and although NIST provides the funding for this organization, a government contractor actually runs it.

The meeting did not start out in an encouraging way. The contractors introduced each other and gave way more detail than was really necessary when they did this. I really didn't care that 20 years ago Alice was the administrative assistant for the Deputy Undersecretary for Things Beginning with the Letter "M," where she chaired the joint government-industry task force whose white paper was the definitive treatise on why the em dash was a indeed a critical national resource. And it seemed that most people had similar thoughts on this.

Then the contractors introduced the draft operating procedures and the group discussed them.

But as the late Harry Harrison had Jim DiGriz roughly say in The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge, that's one of those simple statements like "I dropped the atom bomb and it went off."

And although I'm sure the contractors meant well, this draft document really wasn't designed with the sort of people in mind who end up working in standards groups. They're typically the sort of people who really care about how things like operating procedures are defined, and the contractors' proposed draft contained all sorts of stuff that seemed specifically designed to irritate the group members.

And the contractors seemed genuinely surprised and perhaps even somewhat offended when they received lots of negative comments on their draft document. We'll have to wait and see what happens on this. Unless a reasonable set of operating procedures are agreed upon, it looks like some of the big companies that are major players in the identity management field may decide to not participate in this group, and if that happens, it will greatly limit how useful anything that it creates is. 

Let's hope that the second day manages to overcome these problems and that the group finds a way to move forward and do great things. There's certainly a need for some coordination in the way identities are defined and used and this group certainly looks like it's in a good position to do some useful work.  

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