Meta Revisited

With this article I will try to clean up a little bit of the confusion
that I help to create over the past few days. You might want to ask
“WHY?” The answer to this is quite obvious: the medium is the message: the content of a message and how it is received depends strongly on the form it is presented in.

This will be my last post on the subject of “meta”-ness. At least for the time being.

It seems to me that there is a fundamental disconnect about what a system differentiates from a meta-system. For myself[1] (and it seems also for Paul and Robin), a system is a set of rules, protocols, profiles, etc. that are to be implemented. For example, there is a system in place that governs the quality of gasoline and automobile motors, and its standard ways of distribution. This system consists of rules, regulations, engineering practices etc.

From what I gathered in the recent discussion with Bob and Pamela, it seems that they would call these rule-sets a meta-system (please correct me, if I am wrong). If I understand them correctly, the individual gasstations, car manufacturers, refineries, etc. would be called systems.

So far this comparative example held up well, therefore I will be trying to overstrech it now: To me, a meta-system would govern how e.g. different car fuel systems (such as hydrogen, electricity, natural gas) could be made to work together. Examples of this would be creating user devices cars or identity/service providers gas stations that can consume or dispense different types of fuels.

I am not quite sure what the right term for this would be, but the dreaded meta-meta-system certainly comes to mind. That is why I suggested (only half-jokingly) the term aleph 0 system[2]since it would equalize the different ‘starting points’.

Now, applying these thoughts to the identity world, I come to the following conclusions:

  • Of the three contenders (Liberty, CardSpace, OpenID) for identity systems Liberty was the first identity meta-system.
  • Concordia will hopefully serve us to arrive at an identity meta-system (better: an aleph 0 identity system).
  • OSIS has so far tested implementations of identity systems (i.e. identity meta-systems), and will hopefully expand to use cases for identity meta-systems.

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[1] In this article I will mark the terms system and meta-system either in blue or in orange, depending on whether I use them in my way or with the meaning that Bob and Pam have in mind.

[2] Ok, anybody with a better term?

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