Journal

Identity Validation Online

I was having a conversation with my wife about the Twilight Zone. Every year the Sci-Fi channel as a 24-hour marathon of most of the episodes. My wife was telling me about her favorite episode "The Changing of the Guard" and how it makes her cry everytime she sees it. During this talk, Paul F. Tompkins (PFT), the host of Best Week Ever and @twitterkins on Twitter was doing a running commentary on the episodes that were playing on Sci-Fi. I sent him a reply telling him my wife's favorite episode and he replied back quickly asking me about the episode. I explain the plot and told my wife that I was telling Paul F. Tompkins about the episode. She asked me the $64 million question... "How do you know its him?"

Hmm, that's a fair question. I told her that there were contextual clues present in previous postings done by @twitterkins. For example, he was having a Twitter conversation with John Hodgman (@hodgman on Twitter). PFT presented himself as an authentic to Hodgman and Hodgman validated him as being PFT. Hodgman talked about his Twitter experience on This Week in Tech. Therefore, I had good idea that I was replying back to PFT. However, let's say I had no real world methods of validating a person's online identity. How would I validate that the person I was talking to was actually the person I was talking to? If I had no real world contacts with the person, I guess the simplest way to validate the person's identity would be to look for virtual artifacts that already have been validated as being created by the person and look for similarities between those artifacts and artifacts presented to me by whomever I am talking to.