School of Information Sciences

iSchool Visiting Lectures


October 26, 2010

Mawaki Chango
PhD Candidate, Syracuse University Information School

How We Became Artifacts: Medieval Seals, Modern Passports and the Making of Digital Identity

Abstract: To date, cyberspace assumes the characteristics of a global territory without a consistent and reliable identification system of its own. On the one hand, the Internet software industry has been engaged in devising technical standards and protocols to address what they see as a crucial problem for Internet business and users alike. On the other hand, the White House recently undertook a "Cyberspace Policy Review" that has led to developing a strategy towards enabling secured and trustworthy identity credentials in cyberspace. Furthermore, government and the technical community have also been collaborating in order to define levels and expectations of assurance regarding digital identity credentials to be issued by private entities for online transactions that require identification. This process is currently underway with the hope that government adoption and sanction might provide the momentum much needed for a large-scale rollout of digital identity services. This talk will present the status of an ongoing research project aimed at clarifying the social antecedents or conditions required for effectively establishing a reliable and authoritative identity system in cyberspace. The research takes the form of a socio-historical inquiry into similar challenges in the past, and the ways that they were addressed through identity systems such as medieval seals and modern passports. Technologists and their design activities may gain from confronting possible assumptions regarding social factors on which their technical design depends on. More broadly, it is expected that this research will provide insights into governance, policy and societal implications of the emerging identity systems.

Bio: Changojoined the PhD program at the iSchool at Syracuse in 2005. He has earned two Master's degrees: Political Science from Panthéon-Sorbonne University, Paris-1 (1996) and Philosophy (Lille, 1995), both in France. He served for several years in various countries in Europe and in Africa as consultant with international development agencies such as UNESCO, the International Development Research Centre, and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.


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