What is Digital Identity?


Digital identity is the idea that everything interacting in the digital realm has or acquires a set of data or attributes, both inherent and changeable, that uniquely identify them as a person or entity online. Relevant to issues of privacy and authentication, digital identity encompasses a wide array of contextual and technical identifiers that exist in a ontological taxonomy. Traits can be understood and accepted in mutually agreed upon contexts such as when providing data like name and address for a PayPal transaction, and in the far more technical view that describes the relationships of these entities and objects to each other in cyberspace.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to academic and research libraries?

  • identifying researchers in linked data - mylee.joseph mylee.joseph May 2, 2014
  • integrating ORCID into the catalogue and offering services (support) for researchers.- rudolf.mumenthaler rudolf.mumenthaler May 7, 2014
  • Creating easily a bibliography of all papers published by the reseachers (with an ORCID) working at the own university. - piguet piguet May 8, 2014
  • As mentioned above, ORCID IDs are likely to be important not only as a passive neutral and open identifier (which is probably how it is widely perceived today) but also as a key identifier in workflows across institutions barriers - for example in work flows between funders, institutions, research groups, publishers, etc. - ukwebfocus ukwebfocus May 8, 2014 - dianeb dianeb May 9, 2014

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?


  • We are accustomed to one's digital identity being provided by one's host institution. However with growing importance of Cloud services in both research and teaching and learning contexts this is changing. Anecdotally we hear of generational differences in use of third-party email addresses for a variety of purposes such as conventional email messages but also for authentication for Cloud services. Will institutions continue to require students to use in-house email addresses for business purposes in order that they have an audit trail? Will the user community accept such requirements? - ukwebfocus ukwebfocus May 8, 2014
  • An institutional digital identify normally expires when the user leaves the host institution. But since EVERYBODY will leave their host institution at some point (unless they die in post!) this can cause problems if users wish to continue accessing content, using services or maintaining their communities if this is associated with their institutional digital identity. The access issue may not be relevant for content which is licensed to members of the institution but this will be an issue for open content. ORCID IDs provide an example of a digital identifier which can be owned and managed by individuals after they leave their current institution. But this identifier is primarily of relevance in a research context and does not address wider use cases. - ukwebfocus ukwebfocus May 8, 2014
  • Should a user be able to "hide" their digital identity or required to disclose in order to access library services and resources? - lisahinchliffe lisahinchliffe May 11, 2014

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on academic and research libraries?

  • Opportunity to collaborate to curate and archive digital identities over time. Will eventually be the biographical dictionaries of yesteryear. - lisahinchliffe lisahinchliffe May 11, 2014
  • add your response here

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • Virtual International Authority File (VIAF)VIAF – maintained by a consortium of national libraries
  • Open Researcher Contributor ID (ORCID)ORCID – maintained by a broad consortium led by journal publishers
  • International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI)ISNI – maintained by organisations of performers, authors, composers, and rights holders
  • project Swiss Edu-ID by SWITCH: http://www.switch.ch/de/eduidblog/
  • Not a project as such (yet) but I've presnted a poster based on a survey of UK university library policies and practices for the support of user access to online services after they leave their host institution - see http://ukwebfocus.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/lilac-2014-preparing-our-users-for-digital-life-beyond-the-institution/
  • add your response here

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