Faith/Religion and Cultural Context – Influence on… ID System Architecture and User Behavior

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Session Topic: Faith, Religion and Cultural Context

Wednesday 2C

Convener: Judith Fleenor

Notes-taker(s): Vince Conroy

Premise (Judith): Our religious context factors into how we design and architect identity systems -- hierarchical vs. flat vs. circular?

1) If and how should religious factors affect how we architect and design identity systems

2) How does your view of good and evil affect how you trust others

Do religious beliefs/cultures factor in, or "is the world just like this"?


  • Ponemon Institute ( study: cultural beliefs about privacy across about a dozen nations/cultures
  • example: in the US we don't trust the govt, while in Europe they do
  • some cultures will give up private information very easily, others will not

Many questions were presented with lots of lively discussion

How does faith and culture affect how we trust people?

What architecture/system map to the various religious contexts?

For example, the following premise was presented:

  • Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) tend to be more hierarchical systems and structures
  • While "new thinking" and other religious systems (e.g. Hinduism) tend to more "circular" or social

How does one's view of an afterlife affect trust and willingness to share data?

  • Does "identity" persist beyond one's natural life :-).

Example of a role-based system developed by an attendee:

  • used a "bottom-up" approach to user assignment in a role-based systems
  • experimental system
  • used the XDI stack and SAML for authentication

Delegated authority vs. Socially validated identity?

Other Questions raised:

What is the difference between monotheistic vs polytheistic based cultures, and much does it matter?

  • e.g. in Germany is there a national ID but not in the US

Is Identity the center of the world? No, its important but all there is

Should we be taking a philosophical or pragmatic approach to this based on what people do vs. what they "believe"?

The concept of good and bad -- these are defined differently in different cultures.

  • Should be we using other terms?

Example: Steve Jobs - no on/off switch on Apple products is reflective of his religious beliefs

Some cultures might be more interested in or resistant to personal clouds.

new book from Google's Eric Schmidt - ?

Bottom line:

  • How can reflecting on these issues help us design better identity systems?