20N/ Explainers needed - Brainstorming topics/outlines for missing explainers for digital identity and self-sovereign Identity (similar to the VC flavors explained paper)

From IIW

Explainers Needed - Brainstorming The Explainers

Thursday 20N

Convener: Kaliya Young

Notes-taker(s): Kaliya Young

Tags for the session - technology discussed/ideas considered:

Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps

The starting premise for this is that there is a gap between community knowledge and what is available for folks entering/making sense of the space. What are the missing explainers that are needed.

  • Kaliya wrote one that

Neil - the government trying to sell this as a “replacement” for what you have - digital Drivers licence and digital health card.

  • Why privacy is important - what you are giving away that

  • How do we arm ourselves and explain it.

  • Easy to explain to parents is - privacy issues for children.

  • What is in it for me relative to the current ecosystem.

  • Dark Actors what can they do with the data.

  • Ontario - pitching to the business community saying they will save a lot of money.

  • Not reaching out to regular people - use-cases not concerned John Q public.

  • SSO - is leaving a trail.

Sebastian - philosopher

  • 4 Years in the blockchain space

  • DIDs for media content

  • Identifier ISO - international standard content code - (is a DID?)

  • timestamp/claim rights - could do so with DID/wallet address.

Huge issue - address reach those who would come up with use-cases.

“I tried to read the specs” they are really hard to understand.

Either very superficial - or technical details that are incomprehensible.

Phil Wolff’s session on VC metaphors - important conversation we forget to have - how to break it down for folks outside the space.

How to make accessible to them - understandable but accurate.

Use different metaphor depending on who you are selling it to.

end -user

Business decision maker for investing in it.

Kent Bull-

Number of corporations working with - need to explain to principles and engineers. I want tow rite blog posts to fill in these gaps - I’m a teacher by nature.

Seems big and intractable.

Rob Aaron - career took turn away from this material - was a semantic web guy. Individual to providers of goods and services - schema’s and ontologies - no identity layer. OPen up the world - connections passwordless login through which data can flow.

Henk van Cann - Netherlands - trying to explain to sam smith everything about Keri - documenting it for ½ a year or more. Trying to bring it to a different level of people trying to understand it.

Dan Robertson - hear what folks thoughts - my own experience trying to get ramped up is slow.

So much going way back conceptually - framing what is the problem to be solved.

All the different branches to be explored. Trying to load that context is challenging.

Originally at IIW you could get up to speed - “at” IIW so many different technologies and parties at play. Can’t get crash couse now.

Explain customers

Increase diversity in the community.

When I hear that it takes a long time to explain - challenge accepted. Can’t explain it simply we don’t know it well enough. Divergence learn and gather information - this is what is really going on.

The things that stick over time - they tend to be simple.

Need a PhD - to understand doesn't’ get adoption.

Some abstraction needed to make it simple.

Keri - paper building on 30 years of academic -

Charles - not in space full time - background

Liked my VC flavors explained.

Clarity for technical people to get distinctions.

Overview for policy makers to understand the choices that were made.

Needs more of that.

WHY are people doing these things

How do thy relate to each other.

People are making different choices based on the context that they are in.

Helpful for capital and business manager.


CONTEXT for ID Community - sort of pre-SSI


DIDComm - lift out of prose - secure point to point communication protocol.

SSI book has work flow - really exciting stuff

Didn’t talk about DID resolvers.

Didn’t talk about DIDComm - core things that are enabled.

Explanation for common people - why are we doing this?

Part 3 - Decentralization as a model for life

Vision and blue sky - inventory of topics.

Issue with SSI book - they don’t resonate with people.

QR Code society <- dangers.

Would like to have artubments for them that resonate with them.

What draws me to SSI - Blockchain - we have a chance at digital control - in heaven - control identity and have true privacy - people can have a voice and can trust that voice being heard.

Voting route - local precinct voting.

Get burnt out - upper party leadership -

Mathematical veracity to local politics - believe they have a voice.

WHERE do we EXPECT the momentum?

  • Governance states

  • Public demand

  • Commercial and economic interests.

  • OS comes up with something impressive and convincing.

Selective communication of aspects.

Niel Thompson -

Ultimately we need to explain SSI to policy makers, who are non-technical.

I'm seeing papers from the Canadian Governments who clearly don't understand the current internet problems or what SSI solves and what role "jurisdictions" like themselves have to provide (e.g. governance and enforcement)

What is the role of Public Key Cryptography -

Change of paradigm comes with this.

What is a cryptographic signature and how to explainer.

Metaphor to explain - Can’t take off the locks in a steel plant. When you need to lock out a turned off circuit for work or maintenance you put your lock on it. The next technician may come and place his lock on top of yours. Then, in order for power to flow all the locks must be removed.

The Laws of Identity -

What is going on NOW with database exchange - engagement of businesses to reduce risk.

SSI could create a worse world then we have now.

Painting the picture of the NEGATIVE picture well.

I have failed to convince them there is a problem.






Maybe also - benefits.

Those papers don’t get

Slip privacy and anonymity in the back door.

Cryptographic tools are on peoples phone.

Andreas - Negative picture - experience when talk with developers and technical people - they think they don’t need this “everything is solved” - coming from central mind. Not talking about blockchain - DECENTRALIZED ID/IT Architecture.

Why I need this stuff - I’ve solved this, it works.

2-3 of the key flips

  • Privacy approach (they don’t care about privacy)

  • Operational Security - dont’ have central service to run - operation easier - millions of people scalability -

  • Scalability

  • Openness to other - run digital infrastructure as a government - private sector can join.

  • Open room for innovation - count more for governments

    • Give advantage for economy

Elimination of PII - you don’t need to store - ‘Toxic Data’

Elimination of risk

Reduce friction by eliminate login


All you need to do is use a VC that meet your need.

Infinitely scalable low cost Federation

Governments already - issue - spit out VCs - everyone compatible.

RBAC - Strings (role-based access control) - alternative to json web token

Audience - who are we talking to.

Why Governments

Why Businesses

Why Technical people

Talking about drawbacks of

Number of papers

Charles Lanahan

  • Different changes different people in SSI make -

More comparison papers

Crypto Curves Flavors Explained

ED22519 vs P256

Credential Exchange Mechanisms.

Governance Model Comparison

WHY people are doing it.

Phil Wolff

  • Short form messaging. Where is SSI TikTok? 30 second audio/visual nuggets with high emotional content.

  • Distil into one idea - people can pick up on and relate to and share.

  • As long as we’re in evangelism mode, learn from the best of issue advocates and political communicators. Greta Thunberg, The Lincoln Project

  • Propaganda has layers: establishing beliefs and popular support for common values that connect to deeply held worldviews, identity (the old kind) and feelings.

  • Public support

Videos like Store Wars

Podcast and video content

Kurzgesagt as channel that makes short explainer videos about science


Rob Aaron - semantic web - focus on machine-readable information, bottom-up approach

Machine readable receipt - hard road to get critical mass.

Start with something simple that can achieve critical mass - contact list / address book

Behind the scenes what is happening (VC issuance between peers, private channel communication) is transparent and doesn’t need explaining - it just works.

Give everyone control of their contacts again - a contact list application - create peer to peer channels. - functionality of communicating - reaching out goods of services. Join and you can connect with the person this way. Then add providers of goods and services where it’s key and essential to have real data transfer.

How do we get

Making Facebook Obsolete - the path using SSI

Origination paradigm - publish meme/post on your device and publish peer-to-peer via your new contact list/address book app (there is a scheme a for social media posts).

Publish to wherever. Peers in-boxes as well as all social media / professional networking sites that are participating.

Killer app - explanation after.

Judith - drummond said it just need to work.

Don’t need to understand how it works.

We need these explainer documents for us - the masses will take because it works.

There are philosophical disagreements on how it gets built in that

People deploying and non-technical.

Business decisions makers not technical

Technical people - there is no way I’m ever going to know enough.

You know it’s just working when…

The elephant is too big for each of us to see the whole.

Andy - is there a world where we are worried about resources about this - we can

Andy is an designer - UX person suggesting infographics


Resourcing the communication effort:

  • Employers paying for time to write papers

  • NGO with evangelical goals raising funds to pay for creative and media.


Like this - https://www.lfph.io/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Verifiable-Credentials-Flavors-Explained-Infographic.pdf

Communications within companies about SSI - disconnect between comms and the engineering/tech

Enable comms to understand/equip them with resources to communicate effectively


Diagram creation corps - to get key points/differences articulated in visible form.

Why Quebec gov and large corporations decided privacy was important - EU cut them off from all electronic commerce where GDPR compliance was a requirement. Threat of being cut off for not being compliant.

Communicate to LAWYERS! - they are driving decisions inside corporations.

Phil - we need curriculum - organized sequenced

IDPro - put out a Body of Knowledge - not bad if you ignored lack of decentralized identity.


Chunked categorized - step by step mastered a field - Curriculum

Ways to teach people -

Parable of the polygons. Little simulations - segregation in neighborhoods.

What is identity -

Kent - needs more design.

Fibonacci story point in Agile - 1-3-5. Basically you grab a “story”, a “task” you need to do, and then you give it a “size”.

Narrative story structure.

Diagrams clean and simple - tufte - maximize information to ink ratio

Not be scared of alternatives

Popsicle sticks

Dance your PhD

Timothy - ontologies - understanding is needed. How to create them.

Explainer - crafty youtube video explaining SSI using popsicle sticks, foam figures and cards


“What are you” video from Kurzgesagt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQVmkDUkZT4


UX section BC - covid passport folks - fundamental questions - am I safe private - is government on my back.

Accompanying set of communication - values and what we stand for and appeal to what other people’s values are.

Static QR Code.

Lawful Intercept - eSafety.


Need a bridge (for each audience) from their initial knowledge base

You learn a new thing (most easily) if it can be related to what you already know

As we are talking about KERI as an example (no more than that) of complexity that needs to be tailored to common people. https://github.com/henkvancann/keri/blob/master/docs/KERI-made-easy.md

An approach - explaining SSI in current real-world pre-tech terms - perhaps in human interaction term - particularly how this works in today's online world (before) and after ssi (after)

I shared the article about me in WIRED UK: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/kaliya-young

Ultimately we need to explain SSI to policy makers, who are non-technical.

I'm seeing papers from the Canadian Governments who clearly don't understand the current internet problems or what SSI solves and what role "jurisdictions" like themselves have to provide (e.g. governance and enforcement)

I completely agree. Try explaining the value prop of SSI to volunteer lay people running neighborhood caucus elections of between 20 and 200 people.

Any significant complexity and the people run the opposite direction!

This _must_ be simple to be adopted.

Yes to a "how to get up to speed" reading list - including "principles of identity"


Yes to a "how to get up to speed" reading list - including "principles of identity"




Potential metaphor to explain crypto: “mixing paint colors” — where a private key is a set of paint colors, and the public key is the resulting color from mixing that set. If you can produce the mixed paint color, you’ve proven you are the person who knows the set of paint colors that mix to produce that one color

08:28:51 From Dima Postnikov to Everyone:

+1 there is a gap. And all sides including SSI folks seem to be blinded (“their way is the way”)

Two great points

"The lawyers will save us" - The most effective "convincer" of why corp and gov IT needs to care about privacy - GDPR compliance and legislation on privacy.

+ 1 to audience specific papers!

The Manning book about SSI was mentioned earlier, in the context of “what is missing about the WHY in that book’s explanation?” — but I think even if that book contained a perfect explanation of why SSI matters, it’s not enough… Someone who isn’t sold yet is not going to buy or even borrow a huge tech book to learn about why they should care about a thing they don’t care about.

I agree, that’s why I believe we have to meet the market where they are at and improve processes they have current strong emotional connection to.

People who are buying the book are also already interested/invest/involved

This is why I’m targeting credentialing, meeting assembly, and voting processes for local county political parties.

It won't appeal to the generally curious

+1 - need to build knowledge bridges - from where people are to where they would like

I was also thinking that we need to make some short easy to understand communications. I want to know all these things, but don’t have time to ready a bunch of long long papers. I’m sure others feel the same.

08:36:51 From ChrisKelly to Everyone:

Kurzgesagt is my favorite channel that makes videos about science

30 short communications win over 300 pages of deep technical text

+ anecdotes

What happens when you don't address privacy (example Canada/Quebec province ignoring GDPR)

Issues of speaking smae language

We also need (as we are all explainers or we would not be here) a set of "tools & methods" on how to explain - including by different audiences

A series of diagrams @ different levels of understanding and complexity

Sharing the first interactive infographic that ToIP has on our website: https://trustoverip.org/wp-content/toip-model/


For different audiences - what are their motivators?

Craft udemy or other courses on Decentralized X?

here’s some diagrams (in case their helpful); although not simply about DIDs / credentials - works have always involved them. https://medium.com/webcivics/inforgs-the-collective-info-sphere-67a660516cfd?source=friends_link&sk=29ba4752f9a2ef12b6d2895539b52725


We will illustrate things!

we have to have enough free content on YouTube and the like to get the ideas out. Advanced courses and deeply involved workflows are great for Udemy and other courseware.

I'm thinking we need curriculum. Organized and sequenced chunks of knowledge. Bodies of Knowledge try to define "what you need to know" without spelling everything out or getting into pedagogy. https://bok.idpro.org/

Yes, absolutely. I agree. That’s what I intend to create. This session is awesome for me.

If we're going to produce more diagrams (which I love) - then can we follow some simple rules (like those Edward Tufte proposes, maximise the information to ink ratio)


who wants to continue to engage with working on messaging - explainers. please put your e-mail in the doc (will take out before going in public notes).

ontology creation, production, what is an RDF ontology, whats the difference between RDBMS vs. Semantics (spraQl, etc.) https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCbmz0VSZ_vqZemkHpzb7-GWmzcUdGgfP

this might help too: https://www.youtube.com/c/KingsleyIdehen/search?query=virtuoso

yet generally, the problem is the materials to teach people about ontology related stuff, is too hard

Also, in case we run out of time... suggest we use story/narrative structures (since that's how we're wired to learn and remember stuff), and use alternative forms of explanation (like using popsicle sticks, foam figures and cards - I might have done that already...)

Andy - I was a film director for undergrad :D so if you need film students lmk too

Meaning, I did that as my major

Before my masters

Chris Kelly - I have a past as a video producer 👤

Kamal Laungan - not sure if we covered this, but we likely have a dearth of learn2earn programs in the ssi space

“What are you” video from Kurzgesagt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQVmkDUkZT4

re: governance of how the internet has traditionally worked, vs. the impacts of DIDs