Category Archives: Digital Identity

I Yam What I Yam; Depending Upon Context

It seems a lot of talk is going around about personal identity on the Web. I think we’ve been talking about this since around 1995 and it seems to be a constant concern of people. “How do I know you are you.” That’s a good question. Unless I’m standing in front of you you really don’t.

E-mail I send you or even snail mail I send you could be from someone else. Did you just talk to me on the phone or get a voice mail message from me? Are you sure?

We don’t really know.  We make assumptions about identity all the time and never talk about it in any context other than our online identity. In a recent article in PCWorld online identity is discussed in regards to Google+:

At the recent event, Schmidt shared some of his thoughts on the newly launched Google+. He implied that the Google+ system is designed for building identity — the real issue of the Internet.

As Tech Crunch reports, Schmidt said Google tried to build a system that you could use for relationships over time. “Circles is particularly well-suited to the contact list you have in your phone,” he was quoted as saying.

via Can Google+ Really Lead to Greater Online Identity? | PCWorld.

The thing is, that for me I have at least two online identities I’d prefer to keep separate. One allows me to write on political,  social, and religious issues that I find interesting and in a way that might not actually reflect my true feelings but is how I want to explore the issue. The separation is thin but it is still there. If you want to find out who my other personae is its easy enough to do and several people know me in real life by that name.

Still, I don’t want that personae linked to any of my social media accounts. So I’ve got to wonder how Google’s plan for using Google+ to build identities is going to work for me. I don’t want Google to control my identity, I want control of it.

RFID and Viagra

There has been some controversy going on this week about drug companies using RFID technology to combat drug conterfeiting. The controversy isn’t over combating drug conterfeiting, it’s the fact that people belive that this is just an excuse to track the drugs to one’s home. RFID doesn’t work like that.

RFID tags can be either active or passive. Active tags contain their own power source and are good for only as long as the power source is active. Passive RFID tags do not have their own power supply. They are powered by a current induced into their antenna during the incoming radio-frequency scan.

Because of the differences in the way they are powered passive RFID tags can only transmit a limited amount of data for a very limited range while active RFID tags can transmit much more data over a much larger range. Also due to the way they are powered there is a pretty large gap between the manufacturing costs and physical size of passive and active RFID tags.

The differences in range is something important to understand. When I’m saying that active RFID tags can transmit over a much larger range we are talking yards as opposed to inches. While there are active RFID tags that can transmit to a receiver miles away these are way too expensive to used in manufacturing supply chain logistics. Active RFID tags used in manufacturing have only the range to be located only within a building at most and usually only within an aisle.

Passive RFID tags have a short range of at most a couple of feet. Their advantages of being small and cheap (under 50¢ a piece and getting cheaper) make them very attractive for identifying individual pieces and makes up for their lack of range. These things can be made into paper labels and applied to packaging with little alterations to current packaging equipment. Still they are currently only readable from at most a few feet away.

The worry about tracking these passive RFID tags after leaving the store is unfounded. In order for this to happen you are going to have to have a tag reader in your house and car that monitors your doors. This reader would have to be able to send the data it receives back to a central monitoring site for this to be of any good to anyone.