Security/identity / Venn · 2009-09-10

The Zen of Venn

“You will never be done with the Venn. That’s your destiny. Accept it.”

So said my colleague Ashish recently, as I agonized over some tweaks to the Venn of Identity diagram. The editing started out as a quick fix to the figure that appears in the IEEE Security and Privacy article of the same name; the diagram text was exactly what Drummond and I had specified — but the graphic emerged from the publication process visually “broken”, with no intersection lines.

But of course technologies and understandings and use cases evolve, and it began to seem like a good time to update the text too. What with the new U.S. federal government effort around Open Identity Solutions for Open Government (and PayPal’s involvement in same), I thought maybe I could do a better job of capturing the main strengths OpenID, InfoCard, and SAML bring to today’s table.

In that Zen-like and Concordic spirit, I hereby present a new — date-stamped — version of the Venn (click for the full-size .png):


I hope this new version can continue to support productive discussions that help solve real-world identity problems.

If you’re wondering whether it’s okay to pick up and reuse the diagram — go for it! Just please note the Creative Commons license below. I’ll keep pointed to the new Venn category on my blog so that people who see propagated copies can keep up with updates if they like.

Creative Commons License The Venn of Identity – September 2009 by Eve Maler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

p.s. Thanks to “W.” of the Tech and Law blog for our great email exchange this week on Venn-shaped matters, which sparked even more edits…