Tao of Attributes Workshop


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This is an announcement of a workshop entitled “The Tao of Attributes,” sponsored by GSA, which was held at NIH in Washington D.C. on September 28-29, 2009.

The intent of the workshop is to begin to explore the issues associated with the effective use of various aspects of individual identity (attributes) in Internet identity activities. A set of federal government use cases will drive discussions that look at the requirements in areas such as attribute aggregation from multiple sources, attribute metadata, rich attribute query languages, sources of authority schema management, LOA of attributes, privacy issues and user interfaces for privacy management, legal and policy issues with attribute exchanges, and other areas. The workshop is practical rather than theoretical and may set specific directions and further activities into motion.

Limiting the use cases to a carefully selected group of federal agency needs reduces a broad and complex set of problems to a more manageable, if still quite difficult set of requirements. It also provides “anchor tenant” legitimacy and urgency, and will inform the broader set of requirements for general attribute exchanges in the Internet.

The landscape to be explored is quite large, and this workshop may generate additional workshops to drill down into parts of the problem space as structured by this initial activity. Possible outcomes of this workshop include:
  • Initiation of work around a “USperson” schema
  • A process for associating business processes and semantics in order to develop useful and well understood attributes
  • Recommendations on appropriate venues for developing additional protocols and processes for support of the attribute ecosystem, such as mechanisms for attribute aggregation
  • Identification of existing federal processes (e.g. foreign student reporting, research administration support) that have potential reengineering opportunities.

Use cases will be sought from agencies before the workshop. It is expected that use cases will include instances addressing first responder needs to aggregate specific attributes from multiple sources, in real time, management of agency-researcher grants and relationships, privacy-preserving but community scoped input processes, citizen web site accessibility issues, SEVIS, and others.

The format of the workshop is intended to foster its practical focus by having the primary discussions take place among a relatively small group of national experts in Internet identity and attributes drawn from academic, corporate and government sectors. A larger group of participants, including federal stakeholders who submitted use cases, representatives of sectors with potential commercial interests in an “attribute ecosystem”, analysts, etc will be on site and engage frequently with the primary discussants. In addition, the workshop will be webcast for those interested, and on-line feedback mechanisms will be employed.

The primary discussants are being drafted from among the best and brightest in key areas, including experts in Internet identity, directories, attributes and schemas, human interface, and public policy.

Webcast Archive Workshop Resources:

For more information, contact Steve Olshansky <steveo@internet2.edu>, Internet2 Middleware and Security Flywheel.