Horizon Blog

MIDAS at Mid-Term

Existing systems for managing user identities are service oriented: identities are limited to a single service and often assumed to refer uniquely to a single person – a naive assumption which is contrary to real-world practice. Therefore people have to manipulate services to manage multiple identities for a single person between and within different services, select which identities to use to publish information, and collaboratively manage identities on behalf of others within a group. MIDAS aims to better understand the socio-technical complexities from the perspectives of different stakeholders and translate these into recommendations and design patterns, that contribute to alleviating concerns in this landscape.

MIDAS kicked off with Work Package (WP)1 – a detailed literature review from different disciplines around the current practice of sharing technologies, in particular accounts and profiles. Our research uncovered several satellite papers delving into surrounding areas of interest, however identified a significant gap in literature around the interests MIDAS puts forth.

Our second WP involved studying the users of similar technologies to identify the ‘real-world’ challenges faced when interacting with their profiles, accounts and other users in these scenarios.  We held a set of 4 focus groups with users of data driven profiles/accounts:

  • users who share accounts within a family
  • users who share with friends within the same household,
  • users who share with remotely located individuals
  • teenagers who share with their family and friends.

This work enabled open dialogue and generated discussion between users about the everyday challenges, wants/needs and user expectations in this space.

Work Package 3 aimed to unpack ‘maker’ challenges when conceptualising, designing and building technologies – to identify the barriers faced when envisaging and creating user profiles and accounts. We held expert interviews with technologists, designers, policy enthusiasts, researchers and practitioners to draw together a summary of everyday challenges faced by the ‘makers’ in their work practice. Experts included academic and industry representatives from the Universities of Nottingham, Edinburgh and Sheffield, the BBC (BBC R&D and BBC Accounts and Profiles) and Inrupt (Solid). These interviews provided the researchers space to probe and unpack unique challenges faced by each of the respondents in terms of their role in the landscape, their approach and involvement in this area.

MIDAS is now at the transition stage wherein most of the data analysis from WP2 and WP3 are complete and will be brought together as part of WP4.  Our next steps will include producing multi-disciplinary and practically grounded design guides. In addition, we are planning a workshop with the BBC to discuss these findings, to produce scenarios and assets to inform WP4 and help drive WP5 – which will involve engagement with the users testing out findings and design assets from WP4 – to support further refinement of recommendations.

Written by the MIDAS project team


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