Life With Alacrity

A blog on social software, collaboration, trust, security, privacy, and internet tools by Christopher Allen.

The Path to Self-Sovereign Identity

Today I head out to a month-long series of events associated with identity: I’m starting with the 22st (!) Internet Identity Workshop next week; then I’m speaking at the blockchain conference Consensus about identity; next I am part of the team putting together the first ID2020 Summit on Digital Identity at the United Nations; and finally I'm hosting the second #RebootingWebOfTrust design workshop on decentralized identity. At all of these events I want to share a vision for how we can enhance the ability of digital identity to enable trust while preserving individual privacy.

Defining “Participatory Ecosystem” — Grow the Pie, Not Slice It!

As part of being a member of the sustainable MBA community at Pinchot University, I have been trying to articulate what I like about the kinds of collaboration that are possible even inside a competitive industry. In our MBA program, we don't just teach about competitive strategy (using classic's like Porter's book), but we also teach about the nature of coopetition. These practices are more likely to lead to sustainable businesses (not only sustainable=green, but sustainable=enduring).

A Revised “Ostrom’s Design Principles for Collective Governance of the Commons”

The traditional economic definition of “the commons” are those resources that are held in common and not privately owned. This is closely related to economic concept of public goods, which are goods that are both non-excludable (in that individuals cannot be effectively excluded from use) and non-rivalrous (where use by one individual does not reduce availability to others). My own personal definition for the commons is broader — any regenerative, self-organizing complex system that can be drawn upon for deep wealth.

A Spectrum of Consent

I have made understanding of consent and consensus, in both their human and technological forms, a major part of my career. I have explored them through my work in cryptographic technologies, but also in human terms at the Group Pattern Language Project, by co-authoring with Shannon Appecline forthcoming book on the design of collaborative games, and another book in progress on the patterns of cooperative play. My business management style is also more collaborative and inclusive.

Speaking at Consensus 2015

I'm heading out today to New York City to speak at Consensus 2015, where I am speaking on the panel ‘Bitcoin and its Antecedents: A Look at the History and Evolution of Digital Cash’: Bitcoin is far from the first attempt at creating a form of digital money with the potential to upend existing systems. Our panelists will look at bitcoin's predecessors and close cousins. Nathaniel Popper wrote the book Digital Gold, which delves into bitcoin's genesis; Christopher Allen is an internet security expert who has been involved in digital cash systems including Digicash for decades, while Garrick Hileman is CoinDesk's lead analyst and an economic historian at the LSE, specializing in alternative and private monies.

The Four Kinds of Privacy

(This article has been cross-posted in Medium) Privacy is hitting the headlines more than ever. As computer users are asked to change their passwords again and again in the wake of exploits like Heartbleed and Shellshock, they're becoming aware of the vulnerability of their online data — a susceptibility that was recently verified by scores of celebrities who had their most intimate photographs stolen. Any of us could have our privacy violated at any time… but what does that mean exactly?

10 Design Principles for Governing the Commons

In 2009, Elinor Ostrom received the Nobel Prize in Economics for her “analysis of economic governance, especially the commons”. Since then I've seen a number of different versions of her list of the 8 principles for effectively managing against the tragedy of the commons. However, I've found her original words — as well as many adaptions I've seen since — to be not very accessible. Also, since the original release of the list of 8 principles there has been some research resulting in updates and clarifications to her original list.

Mini Resume Card for Conference Season

Between the business of the March/April conference season and leaving Blackphone, I've run out of business cards. Rather than rush to print a bunch of new ones, I'm created this mini-resume for digital sharing and a two-sided Avery business card version that I am printing on my laser printer and sharing. Not as pretty as my old Life With Alacrity cards, but effective in getting across the diversity of my professional experience and interests.

Deep Context Shared Languages

If you consider yourself a futurist or an agent of change, you should read this article from The Atlantic "Shaka, When the Walls Fall". Yes, it uses a Star Trek episode as an allegory, it is a bit confusing and has a lot of complexity and depth, but it is a good introduction to a topic I care about — Deep Context Shared Languages. I consider one of my missions in life to be to "create tools that allow people to communicate about complexity".

“Harmonic” on Pantheon Steel XXD Halo Hand Pan at BGIedu Intensive

For the second time, I was asked to play a hand pan solo on stage at the BGIedu intensive. This time I was better prepared to make a better quality recording. For those who want more detail, this percussion instrument is generically called a hand pan, and specifically this a Pantheon Steel Halo Genesis tuned in the Xiao Xiong Diao (XXD) scale. A cousin of the PanArt hand pan called a "Hang", the makers of this instrument are one of the first to successfully make an instrument of similar quality.

Some History of SSL Security Reviews

Regarding the Heartbleed bug, SSL and TLS vendors used to require code security reviews before CAs would accept certificate requests from that implementation. My firm Consensus Development was the only one offering these reviews, largely because other security firms were scared of liability issues. Over 50% of the products failed in less then 8 hours of review, typically for very stupid mistakes. The CAs stopped asking us for reviews because it was slowing down sales of certificates.