Friday May 15, 2009

Weave Identity - Synergistic Creativity

A week ago, I blogged about the Mozilla Labs Weave project enabling automatic website login.  A couple of days ago, thanks to Pat Patterson, I read Dan Mills' blog about the effort and watched his video again.  I thought Dan's pragmatic vision about the role the browser could play in simplifying the authentication process was quite perceptive:
"Part of the guiding force here is that we think that regardless of the inner mechanism (a federated identity, a simple username and password, or something else), in the end the action of logging in is essentially the same. Therefore, as the browser we should try to provide a similar experience, regardless of the method being used. As the user’s agent we should also strive to act on the user’s behalf when possible, and we believe this is one of those cases."
The comments to Dan's post were also thought-provoking.  They ranged from
"This is just super-cool and something that \*everyone\* has been waiting for unknowingly. I don’t know why it hasn’t already been done!"
"I’m sorry guys, but I have to strongly disagree with your entire approach here."
What excites me about what happened here is more than just another cool experiment and demo.  Rather than just talk about it, some enterprising folks tackled a real-life problem, formulated an interesting idea, made a quick prototype, put it out for everyone to see, and invited discussion around this visible strawman.   The next prototypes will get better and better.  Real progress has been made and will continue. This is a bright example of what I like to call "synergistic creativity."

Way to go, guys!

P.S. I used to think I coined the term "synergistic creativity," but found that Dean Patrick R. Dugan of Ohio State University beat me to the punch.  I still like the concept!

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Wednesday Nov 12, 2008

Creative Synergy

Creative: Characterized by originality and expressiveness; imaginative.

SynergyThe interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.

The most exciting and satisfying part of my career is best labeled "Creative Synergy," where the interaction between two or more people yields more creative results than any of the participants could deliver individually.

This is something that can't be forced, but is exciting when it happens.  I just experienced it again this afternoon at an adhoc meeting here at Sun's Customer Engineering Conference in Las Vegas.  Not a huge flash, not a ground-breaking innovation, but a creative bit of terminology that may make a big difference in how an important concept can be communicated.

And I'm not even going to tell you what we discovered.  I'll leave this to my colleague who'll blog about it soon.  Stay tuned!

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Tuesday Oct 14, 2008

Tactical Advantage: Open Source changes the escalation process

Last night I got an email from Martin Gee, CTO of IC Synergy, pointing out some intriguing blog posts he had written about Access Request functionality his company has created to augment Sun Identity Management software.

I will post comments Martin's post on these subjects soon, but I would first like to share a comment Martin made in a post he drafted back in August, entitled "What good is Open Source without Support?"

After describing how one of the talented IC Synergy engineers was able to fix a thorny problem because he had access to Open Source code, Martin opined,
"Open Source changes the escalation process. If you have folks that are talented enough to navigate the product code base, interpret the functionally and recompile the code, you have a tactical advantage. Typically you’d work the forums and support process for a couple of weeks with mixed results. Now, in most situations you can by pass layers of support and shorten the patch process. Win / Win in my book."

"Tactical advantage" makes business sense. For IC Synergy at least, Open Source isn't just nice to have. It makes a real difference to their business.

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Discovering Identity was founded on in May 2005 as a means of documenting my exploration of the field of Identity and Access Management. In February, 2010, I switched to hosting the blog at In March 2012, I began posting Oracle-related information in both places.

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