You write “Viewed atomistically, technologically, SSI looks quite sensible. At scale, as sociotechnology, the emergent consequences are malignant.” But I’ve never been able to understand those consequences or why you think they follow from SSI from your writing.
We disagree most pointedly, I think, on the importance of architecture and its ability to help with this. You say, for example:
“One can look at the architecture of SSI all one likes, just as one can study the architecture of the automobile. Such study is necessary but woefully insufficient, taking no account for example of traffic jams, pollution, or any other systemic consequences.”
You’re mistaking component architecture with system architecture and then criticizing the ability of architecture to elucidate the problems because component architecture doesn’t answer all the questions. I contend that if you look at the architecture of the automobile transportation system holistically, then you can can better analyze malignant consequences and their causes.
SSI is a system and there is a system architecture. The principles are very much a part of the architecture. The malignant consequences you worry about ought to follow from the system architecture and become something to study and learn from. So, please point them out. Otherwise, it’s all just handwaving.
I suggest that part of the problem is that you’re trying to critique SSI which is a big tent that does not have a consistent set of principles or even agreement on a system architecture. As such, it’s an easy target since you can undoubtedly find some system somewhere that purports to be SSI and is “doing it wrong.” :)
A better approach might be to select one or two specific SSI ecosystems like Sovrin, for example, and examine their principles (which are clearly laid out and evolved from Allens) and system architecture (which is very developed) and point out the specific malignancies that follow. I’m sure there are some and the community welcomes sincere criticism. Sovrin’s architecture has changed a great deal over the years as problems have been discovered because the participants are sincere in their desire to develop an identity metasystem that empowers people to live fully engaged digital lives.