Identity is one of the deepest problems of philosophy and one that runs trough the history of education like a single thread. In this course we look at identity relatively narrowly, asking how we know who someone is, how we project ourselves on the internet, and how we can be safe and secure.


2018/11/14 15:00 Conversation with Maha Bali


Identity is one of the deepest problems of philosophy and one that runs trough the history of education like a single thread. In this course we look at identity relatively narrowly, asking how we know who someone is, how we project ourselves on the internet, and how we can be safe and secure.

Even so, our relation to technology and to each other can be seen to change. In the era of websites and content management systems, we were the clients. In the era of platform-based social networks we were the product. What do we become in a world of artificial intelligence, linked data and cryptographic functions?

One of the key changes with web3 technology will be the way we identify ourselves online. Anonymity and password-based usernames will be more difficult to sustain. We are already in a world of biometrics and two-factor authentication, but there are weaknesses in the system (and an endless stream of successful hacks to underline that problem). Cryptographic keys - either digital or physical - will become the norm, but this gives us a permanent identity that not only secures our data, it is our data.

We were the client, we were the product - are we, at last, the content? We are the thread that runs through an otherwise disconnected set of data, and knowledge about ourselves, our associations, and our community will create an underlying fabric against which the value and relevance of everything else will be measured. Instead of demographics being about quantity (sales charts, votes in elections and polls, membership in community) we will now have access to a rich tapestry of data and relations.

If this becomes the case, then we will have an unparalleled opportunity to become more self-reflective, both as individuals and as a community. The “quantified self” will give way to the “qualified self” and ultimately to the “connected self” as we begin to define ourselves not merely by simple measures of ethnicity, language, religion and culture, but through thousands of shared experiences, affinities, and inclinations. Evidence for this trend already exists and can be found through the exploration of expression of communities and culture online.

Our new identities have the potential to be an enormous source of strength or a debilitating weakness. Will we be lost in the sea of possibilities, unable to navigate through the complexities of defining for ourselves who we are, or will we be able to forge new connections, creating a community of interwoven communities online and in our homes?


Create an Identity Graph

Create an Identity Graph

  • We are expanding on the marketing definition of an identity graph. It can be anything you like, but with one stipulation: your graph should not contain a self-referential node titled ‘me’ or ‘self’ or anything similar

  • Think of this graph as you defining your identity, not what some advertiser, recruiter or other third party might want you to define.

  • Don't worry about creating the whole identity graph - focusing on a single facet will be sufficient. And don't post anything you're not comfortable with sharing. It doesn't have to be a real identity graph, just an identity graph, however you conceive it.

Optional: consider some of these questions about your identity graph:

  • What is the basis for the links in your graph: are they conceptual, physical, causal, historical, aspirational?

  • Is your graph unique to you? What would make it unique? What would guarantee uniqueness?

  • How (if at all) could your graph be physically instantiated? Is there a way for you to share your graph? To link and/or intermingle your graph with other graphs?

  • What’s the ‘source of truth’ for your graph?


Due: Nov 16, 2018


Conversation with Maha Bali Nov 14, 2018 video A wide-ranging discussion of a conversation with Maha Bali, Associate Professor of Practice at the Center for Learning & Teaching at the American University in Cairo (AUC), and co-founder of Virtually Connected, on topics related to identity.

Identity, Keys and Authentication Nov 15, 2018 video In this video I talk about proving our identity in the digital world with physical keys, public and private keys, and Keybase. And I connect it to the idea our our identity as a graph. Note: this isn't 100% authoritative and may contain errors. Links to better (= accurate AND clear) guides would be appreciated).

E-Learning 3.0 - Identity Nov 18, 2018 video Identity is one of the deepest issues in philosophy and one that runs through the history of education like a single thread. It can seem esoteric, but some of the problems it raises can touch home very quickly. How do we know someone is who they say they are?


Feature Article E-Learning 3.0, Part 4: Identity, Nov 18, 2018.

Identity is one of the deepest issues in philosophy and one that runs through the history of education like a single thread. It can seem esoteric, but some of the problems it raises can touch home very quickly. How do we know someone is who they say they are? What is it that makes them that person? What makes me the person I think I am? Is it up to me to decide? Or am I locked into being the person society says I am?

The Basics of Decentralized Identity
Kames, Medium, Uport, 2018/11/12

This is a reasonably clear and relatively straight-forward account of the concept of distributed identity. There's a strong blockchain slant to the discussion, but ignore that - the concepts remain the same with or without blockchain. As the article goes on it gets more technical, so feel free to bail when your comfort level is exceeded.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Decentralized Identifiers
World Wide Web Consortium, 2018/11/12

'Decentralized Identifiers' is a new World Wide Web Confortium (W3C) specification. " Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) are a new type of identifier for verifiable, 'self-sovereign' digital identity. DIDs are fully under the control of the DID subject, independent from any centralized registry, identity provider, or certificate authority." This is a technical document, so for most readers it's only useful to read Section 1.

A decentralized ID is basically a URL that points to some data about yourself. This data includes cryptographic material, authentication suites, and service endpoints. It's worth noting that the DID specification "has produced two specific requirements for a new type of URL" which "SHOULD NOT require a centralized authority to register, resolve, update, or revoke the identifier." We will get to what that might look like in the next module, on Resources. 

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

What is identity? A sociological perspective
Mary Jane Kehily, ESRC Seminar Series, 2018/11/12

8 page academic paper on identity, giving us yet another perspective on the concept. "In returning to the idea of identity as a meeting place it is possible to see identity as relational – formed and played out in relation to those who are similar and those who are different....  it is possible to detect shifting emphases in relationships to past, present, future. Finally, identity is never complete and can incorporate aspirational and fantasy elements."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Identity Graphs: how online trackers follow you across devices
Robert Heaton, 2018/11/12

This articl introduces you to the concept of the identity graph. This is a graph created by advertisers linking all your identifiable information together to create a picture of a single individual out of distributed data. This article is a leisurely read and doesn't get too complex, though it's a bit long. For more on identity graphs: What is an Identity Graph, 6 Things Every Marketer Need to Know. Note that while the identity graph originates as a marketing concept, it is not exclusively a marketing concept, and something people and organizations can take control of in their own right.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

What Is Identity?
OpenLearn, 2018/11/12

I am recommending a read through the first part of this short course from OpenLearn. It looks at questions like "How are identities formed?" and "How much control do we have in shaping our own identities?" Of course, the next few sections (on gender, class and origin) are also useful, but they go beyond the scope of this course. While reading, consider this: "the importance of marking oneself as having the same identity as one group of people and a different one from others." Is identity based on group? Or....?

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Creating an Identity-Safe Classroom
Becki Cohn-Vargas, Dorothy M. Steele, Edutopia, 2018/11/13

Our research revealed that teachers can create identity-safe classrooms, defined as places that foster belonging and value for students of all backgrounds. This assumes that schooling is a social process that depends on trust, a process in which their social identity is an asset to school success.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

The role of education in shaping youth’s national identity
Fazilah Idris, Zaharah Hassan, Azizah Ya’acob, Saran Kaur Gill, Noor Aziah Mohd Awal, UKM Teaching and Learning Congress, 2018/11/13

This study looks at whether education can help develop national identity in Malaysia. "Education provides knowledge and skills to the population, as well as shaping the personality of the youth of a nation. Nevertheless, can education shape the youth’s national identity? Can education cultivate the person's identity or sense of belonging to the nation?"

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Identity as Evolving, Dynamic, Contextual #el30
Maha Bali,, 2018/11/14

From her blog Reflecting Allowed. " I think over the course of a day and depending where I am and what I’m doing, different dimensions of identity come to the fore or background. And online it is the same. What we choose to show of ourselves online and share openly (or not so openly) makes a difference." See also @Bali_Maha.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Equity Unbound
Maha Bali, Catherine Cronin, Mia Zamora, 2018/11/14

Seven-week MOOC on themes related to identity and digital culture, including this one: "The internet and pervasive use of online information has changed the global learning landscape. The rapid acceleration and adoption of digital content for learning is a pressing catalyst for digital equity.
So what does it mean to be a “good” digital citizen in a globalized context."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Virtually Connecting
Rebecca Hogue, Maha Bali, Autumm Caines, Helen DeWaard, Christian Friedrich, 2018/11/14

"The purpose of Virtually Connecting is to enliven virtual participation in academic conferences, widening access to a fuller conference experience for those who cannot be physically present at conferences. We are a community of volunteers and it is always free to participate."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Yubico, 2018/11/15

As explained on the Yubico website, "U2F is an open authentication standard that enables internet users to securely access any number of online services with one single security key instantly and with no drivers or client software needed.  FIDO2 is the latest generation of the U2F protocol."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post] - Downes
Stephen Downes, Keybase, 2018/11/15

This is my Keybase page. Here's what Keybase says about itself: "Keybase is a new and free security app for mobile phones and computers. For the geeks among us: it's open source and powered by public-key cryptography. Keybase is for anyone. Imagine a Slack for the whole world, except end-to-end encrypted across all your devices. Or a Team Dropbox where the server can't leak your files or be hacked." See also (very technical) Keybase for Everyone. And Keybase writing to the blockchain.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Public-key cryptography
Wikipedia, 2018/11/15

Public-key cryptography, or asymmetric cryptography, is any cryptographic system that uses pairs of keys: public keys which may be disseminated widely, and private keys which are known only to the owner. This accomplishes two functions: authentication, where the public key verifies that a holder of the paired private key sent the message, and encryption, where only the paired private key holder can decrypt the message encrypted with the public key.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]


#El30 Week 4: The Same
x28, EL30 – x28's new Blog, 2018/11/13

One meaning of 'identity' is just 'the same'. If I am a user who has never logged in into a certain server, a 'cookie' just tells the server that I am the same one who visited the site before. Nobody knows my name at this time.
Continue reading → Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Some Thoughts On Identity
jennymackness, e-learning 3.0 – Jenny Connected, 2018/11/14

The topic for Week 4 of Stephen Downes’ E-Learning 3.0 MOOC is Identity. The focus of this topic is on digital identity – exploring questions such as: ‘How do we know who someone is?’, ‘How do we project ourselves on… Continue reading → Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

#El30 Week 4 Identity Graph, 1st Attempt
x28, EL30 – x28's new Blog, 2018/11/14

So I tried to guess what advertisers know about me, from (1) the Twitter "Interests" and (2) my LibraryThing tags.
Continue reading → Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

#El30 Task: Identity Graph
Roland, Learning with Moocs, 2018/11/15

In our course E-Learning 3.0 (#el30) facilitator Stephen Downes asked us to create an identity graph. We should not use a node “me”, “myself” or similar. I made a mind map using Mindmaster, but I dislike the fact that the format seems to impose a central node. I put buddhism/humanism central, since that are core […] Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

E-Learning 3.0 : Identity Graphs
jennymackness, e-learning 3.0 – Jenny Connected, 2018/11/15

We are now in the fourth week of this E-Learning 3.0 open course/MOOC. The task for this week is to create an Identity Graph, which Stephen Downes (convener of this course) has outlined as follows: Identity – Create an Identity Graph We… Continue reading → Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Messing Around With Identity Graphs
dogtrax, EL30 – Kevin's Meandering Mind, 2018/11/15

For the E-Lit 3.0 course, Stephen Downes has us pondering identity and graphs, with a focus on Identity Graphs. These are used by marketers to fine-tune who we are, using our data trails, in order to push their products our way. Stephen envisions a different way in the Web3 world, where data will be used […] Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Week 4 El30: Graphs And Decentering The Self
Brainstorm in Progress, 2018/11/15

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning … Continue reading → Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Id Graph, E-Learning 3.0/ 1st Draft
ioannouolga, connecting data to information to knowledge, 2018/11/18

So, here I am, first attempt. I thought I’d show the complexity of being a. an architect, b. in Greece, c. during crisis. Graph shows a multiplicity of roles and some of their interconnections (dotted lines): for example freelance self-employment leads to a certain amount of knowledge in construction which leads to an educational position […] Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Identity From The Perspective Of Authentication
jennymackness, e-learning 3.0 – Jenny Connected, 2018/11/18

In this video Stephen Downes, convener of the E-Learning 3.0 MOOC explains that in the future our safety and security online will be managed through the use of identification keys. We will each have a private key and a public… Continue reading → Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

The Quantified, Qualified And Connected Self
jennymackness, e-learning 3.0 – Jenny Connected, 2018/11/18

This week the topic on the E-Learning 3.0 MOOC has been Identity. We have tried to answer questions such as: How do we know who someone is? How do we project ourselves on the internet? How can we be safe… Continue reading → Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Considering Keys To Identity And Authentication
dogtrax, EL30 – Kevin's Meandering Mind, 2018/11/18

(Warning: this is a bit of a ramble) In EL30 (E-Learning 3.0), Stephen Downes has us now thinking beyond notions of identity, and into the future of digital authentication. Stephen, our navigator, explores the notion of private and public ‘keys’ as a way to keep our identities and our data private, and firmly in user […] Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Frank’S Identity Graph – Week Three 2nd Task
Frank, Doin’ Stuff, 2018/11/18

My internet identity journey started with Web 2.0/CCK08 and the beginnings of trying to internalize what Stephen meant when he said “that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks (of people and machine). Exposed for the first time to the … Continue reading "Frank’s Identity Graph – Week Three 2nd Task" Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

#El30: Prepositions On The Edge Of Identity
Learning Complexity, 2018/11/18

Last week, Stephen Downes assigned an identity graph for those participating in #el30. Like Jenny Mackness and Mathias Melcher, I was initially perplexed that the graph “should not contain a self-referential node titled ‘me’ or ‘self’ or anything similar”. Surely, I thought, any picture of my connections should include me, right?

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Who Am I? – Digital Identity And Web 3.0
kgq962, Random Access Learning, 2018/11/18

With a topic like identity, it’s very tempting to wax philosophical, but hopefully, I’ll be able to, if not avoid that, at least rein it in a bit and focus on the subject of the creation, maintenance and curation of … Continue reading → Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Keys and encryption
Larua Ritchie, 2018/11/18

This is a technical post in response to the useful provocation Stephen provided with his video for #el30 exploring Yubi keys and Public / Private keys. Stephen began by saying it is not his area of expertise (mine either). There is a LOT in these topics and I have a friend who is a specialist […]

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

My Graph #el30
Laura Ritchie,, 2018/11/18

I did it! Got out the metaphoric gardening gloves, and dug around to figure this graph business out. I’ll admit that the thought of making a 2D representation of me as a graph did not instantly appeal, but I also realise that there is HUGE benefit to seeing other points of view, and to learning […]

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Who are you?
Laura Ritchie,, 2018/11/18

“Who are you?” the small child asks, looking up with curious eyes. I am a growing fractal, a friend you haven’t met (yet), a dreamer tethered to the ground by a thin thread like a balloon and rooted like an old old tree. I am a reflective surface that smiles back at […]

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Identity Graphs As A ‘Source Of Truth’
jennymackness, e-learning 3.0 – Jenny Connected, 2018/11/19

Week 4 on Identity in Stephen Downes’ E-Learning 3.0 MOOC has come to an end. It was another very interesting week. Stephen has summed up the week with a video and a paper, both of which I will link to… Continue reading → Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Could Immutable Blockchains Stand In The Way Of Identity Formation?
Roland, Learning with Moocs, 2018/11/19

If you want to see even more identity graphs, have a look at this funky video by the facilitator of our E-learning 3.0 course (#el30), Stephen Downes: He also offered a reasonably clear presentation about identity, keys and authentication. If identity, online and offline, is ultimately also about possibility, aspirations, hopes and dreams as much […] Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

#El30 Week 4 – Identity
daveymoloney, Davey Moloney, 2018/11/19

The world changes. Some people don’t.You learned things that were true back then, but now they’re false.You got successful doing things one way, but now that way is moot.You still consider yourself an expert, but that expertise has expired.You dug so deep into something that you lost perspective, and didn’t realize the landscape had changed.Sometimes … Continue reading "#EL30 Week 4 – Identity" Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

#El30 – On The Narrative Identity, And Our Obsession With Stats
dorian, Engram Seeker, 2018/11/21

So, here I am at last, coming out of the digital woodwork (not to anyone’s annoyance, I hope!) as a follower of Stephen Downes’s “E-Learning 3.0” MOOC. I know, the course is already half-way through — but I’ve been rather too overwhelmed by other tasks to actively chip into the fascinating discussions going on around … Continue reading "#EL30 – On the Narrative Identity, and our Obsession with Stats" Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

E-Learning 3.0: Identity (Vahid In A Concept Map)
vahidm, Outdoing Education, 2018/11/21

(part of my reflections on week 4 #el30 The E-Learning 3.0 MOOC from Stephen Downes) My identity Vahid Masrour’s concept mapHigher resolution version I’ve tried my best to reflect my identity on the previous graph. Over the past couple of decades, i’ve made a few mindmaps, (google “Vahid Masrour mindmap”), one particular series of mindmaps … Continue reading E-learning 3.0: Identity (Vahid in a concept map) Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Identity – Mine (At Least Partially)
Gerald Ardito, Inventing Learning, 2018/11/22

This week in the #EL30 course with Stephen Downes, we are looking at identity. Stephen really surprised me by connecting graphs (which I thought I understood) with trust (as in trusted networks and connections — and BitCoin) and identity. This week’s task (really, it was the task was last week or the week before, but […] Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Week 4: Activity – Identity Graph #Identitygraph
lou, learning reflections, 2018/11/25

Week’s 4 activity consisted on creating a graph based on the marketing definition of an identity graph. The rules: without a self-referential node, from your own point of view, and it could be partial. To create my graph, I first thought about how I would describe my online identity, and contrasted that with my online …
Sigue leyendo Week 4: Activity – Identity Graph #identityGraph Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Week 4: Identity – E-Learning 3.0 Mooc #El30
lou, learning reflections, 2018/11/25

This post is part of my reflections on week 4 topic, Identity, on Stephen Downes’ E-Learning 3.0 MOOC   #el30. Though the topic got to an end some days ago, I found writing my first blog post a bit daunting, (!). As things are, I am now ready to join in the online conversation.  Initial thoughts This …
Sigue leyendo Week 4: Identity – E-Learning 3.0 MOOC #el30 Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]