A conversation with Barry Ribbeck about digital identity in higher education

I met Barry Ribbeck, who’s Director of Systems Architecture and Infrastructure at Rice University, a few years ago at a Dartmouth conference on the deployment of public key infrastructure (PKI) in higher education. I attended that conference several times as an observer, and wrote a couple of InfoWorld columns about it. For today’s podcast I invited Barry to reflect on what’s been happening with token-based authentication, PKI, and identity federation in the realm of higher education.

Near the beginning of our conversation I mentioned that people are spooked by the Real ID initiative, and Barry offered a great perspective. We already have a national — indeed, international — federation of machine-readable identity documents. It’s called the ATM network, and we all use it routinely.

For years, people like Barry Ribbeck have been working toward the same kind of ubiquitous deployment of smartcards and digital certificates. It’s been slow going, and still is, but these folks have a long-term vision and the patience and determination to make it real.

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