Well, it turns out the Beatles didn’t get broken up by Yoko after all. But Peter Jackson may have gotten closer. His Get Back movie seemed to be so far over the top that even Beatlemaniacs like myself had had enough. But no. On this edition of the Gang, we still can’t stop talking about it. Random reviews by every third person on the street exonerate Yoko, complain about the weak material, and generally agree that they still want to see the director’s 15 hour cut. It’s like that Groundhog Day with the four fabs endlessly repeating the same mistakes that led to the end of the greatest show on earth. It’s easy to believe George Harrison when he later said the Beatles weren’t that good, but where does that leave us?
The portions weren’t big enough. Paul was too bossy. John was checked out. Yeah, so what. Have you ever read the first draft of the Gettysburg Address? Actually, I bet that is the first draft.
I think I’ve finally got Twitter Spaces to work, or at least the Record part. Then Jack Dorsey leaves and sets off massive speculation about the Blockverse or whatever. What started as a retirement plan for Sergei and Larry (Alphabet) brought Facebook’s reboot to Meta to preserve Mort Zuckerberg’s hammerlock on social media forward. I’ve renamed Marc to Mort as part of the new branding. The Beatles did this first with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They keep moving in and out of style.
Media speculation is that Dorsey is realigning the Twitter stack under Square/Block’s crypto wallet super-app. Look, he quits. Look, he’s still there. But tellingly, Square has been much more successful with the Wall Street crowd than Twitter, and this identity shuffle could turn out to be significant as Twitter builds out its software stack under Dorsey’s successor. It’s in many ways reminiscent of that earlier time when XML and the Web Services stack spawned RSS, blogging, podcasting, and then the Cloud. Today, it’s newsletters, live streaming, and live conferencing a la Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces. Scratch reminiscent; it’s what some are trying to namejack as Web3.
Last week, one of the founders of the Identity movement died, the wonderful Kim Cameron. Doc Searls, one of the founders of the long-running Internet Identity Workshop conference, recalled the group grew out of a special edition of the Gillmor Gang on the last day of 2004 and a subsequent in-person gathering at Esther Dyson’s PC Forum conference. Kim brought a gentle sense of humor, deep knowledge in the potential of identity mixed with open standards cooperation, and the leverage of his role at Microsoft. As the Identity Gang morphed into IIW, Kim brought his personal and big tech identities to the table.
Doc and I went looking for the Identity Gang show and eventually, with the help of Phil Windley and Doug Kaye of IT Conversations, got the link to work. In the meantime, Doc and I recorded a Clubhouse room conversation. We’re early in the live recorded audio rollout, but the tracks are laid and the conversation is underway once more.
Kim drew up what he called the Seven Laws of Identity. Then crucially, he got Microsoft to agree to many of them. “One of his laws said: A plurality of operators,” Doc remembers. “That was huge. And for Microsoft at the time, well, they all but ran the world, to sign off on a plurality of operators, which Kim got them to do. It was a big deal. It was a huge deal, even though there was no formal way that it happened. But it was clear.
"He won a whole bunch of — I wouldn’t call them political battles — but certainly skirmishes inside the company to make sure that they didn’t try to do with whatever they would do next with identity that they did with Passport. It was a hugely influential thing and it still is. It’s informing the development going on today with what’s called SSI for self-sovereign identity, which is basically exactly what his laws say: minimum disclosure for constrained users and user control and consent. It basically puts you as an individual back in charge of the way your identity is used or identifying things about yourself can be done online.”
Whether it’s individual or corporate identity, the lesson of the Beatles is the fierce battle to be the greater sum of its parts. These four men in their late twenties had conquered the world by submerging themselves in a collaborative harness they knew couldn’t last. Harrison openly debated breaking away to do his own record, but he rationalized it as a way of coming back to the hive for more Beatles. McCartney, in a private 1 on 1 with his songwriting partner, told Lennon he was the real boss, Paul the second boss. John pushed back, “Not always.” Paul wasn’t having any of it. “No, always.”
History seems to live in the cracks between what a few people agree is the way forward. I’ve always been interested in the creative space that emerges from the tension of collaboration. As Keith Teare says on this session of the Gillmor Gang, the elevation of Bret Taylor to Chairman of the Twitter board and co-CEO of Salesforce represents not the bad but the good side of Silicon Valley, “which is people have each other’s backs and care about outcomes for companies they don’t work for. And one of the best things about the Valley is it’s incredibly collaborative, and problems are discussed openly and fairly transparently, and people know each other because it’s such a small place.”
Two of us going nowhere, sang John and Paul. Not likely.