Influence the Future of Self-Sovereign Identity

Written by:

Elizabeth Melton

10 minutes

Self-sovereign identity is an emerging digital approach to identity management that empowers the individual with control of their own information. And for any emerging concept to succeed, it needs a broad community of contributors — from developers to scientists to product managers, to lawyers, to marketers — to build and support open, non-proprietary standards and protocols to push the field forward in a positive direction.

Although the field of self-sovereign identity is complex, there’s ample greenspace, which means practitioners have a huge opportunity to give users more control over their identity, ultimately making the internet better for all.

But how, exactly, can you help?

Below, we share two ways to get plugged into the industry and eleven self-sovereign identity-focused organizations to help you jumpstart your involvement. 

Unfamiliar with self-sovereign identity or want a refresher? Read What is self-sovereign identity, and how does it work?

2 Ways to Get Involved 

The first way to get involved is to join an open-source project. Open source is a great way to get exposure to exciting projects in the field, learn from your peers, improve your skills, and connect with like-minded devs.

At Entidad, we are spearheading an open-source effort, Farmworker Wallet OS — a community of contribution led by Entidad, The United Farm Workers Foundation (UFWF), and The OpenWallet Foundation (an organization we cover in our list below). We’re building a Mendix-driven, interoperable digital wallet that gives farmworkers access to life-altering social and human services.

Another way to get involved is simply to join the industry conversation. There are many collaborative groups actively working to advance the cause, covering everything from protocol development to governance frameworks to human interactions. Do a quick Google search, and you’ll find identity-related Slack or Discord groups, LinkedIn influencers, and Twitter discussions to join.

11 Web3 Organizations We Recommend

Although self-sovereign identity is a newer model, there is already a wealth of working groups furthering conversations about how it should be built and used in a public setting.

Devs are working on verification protocols, distributed technology applications such as blockchain or KERI, peer-to-peer communication, and more. And non-devs are leveraging their expertise to guide that development in healthcare, finance, retail, and government sectors.

To narrow your focus, we’re highlighting eleven stand-out groups in the self-sovereign identity space.

1. The Linux Foundation

The Linux Foundation supports the development of open-source software and collaboration across various industries, led by experts in law, ecosystem development, business, and community and developer marketing.

The Foundation prides itself on being a “neutral home and unmatched support for cutting-edge projects,” hoping to attract engineering talent who will shape the future of open technology.

Joiners can:

  • Advance existing Linux Foundation projects (like the one below!)
  • Attend events
  • Engage in discussions with other community members

Check out existing projects here: All Linux Foundation projects filterable by tech sector

2. Trust Over IP

Trust Over IP is an independent project hosted at the Linux Foundation. They’re working with leaders across the world to provide a common standard and complete architecture for Internet-scale digital trust.

In building this common standard, the group is prioritizing interoperability, security, and privacy in online interactions, laying the foundation for solid trustworthy digital relationships between users and the government, for-profit companies, professional organizations, educational institutions, and more.

Joiners can:

  • Participate in working groups
  • Contribute to technical specifications
  • Add to community discussions

Read their most recent announcement: Public Review of the did:webs Method Specification

3. Decentralized Identity Foundation

Decentralized Identity Foundation is laying the groundwork for an open, decentralized identity ecosystem. The community focuses specifically on establishing standards and protocols that enable individuals to control their own digital identities.

DIF is open to anyone interested in the identity landscape but is primarily engineering-driven. 

Devs can work on things like:

  • DID authentication
  • Claims and credentials
  • Secure data storage
  • Applied crypto projects

Consider subscribing to: the DIF Monthly Newsletter

4. OpenWallet Foundation    

The OpenWallet Foundation is a group of non-profit and for-profit companies encouraging the development and adoption of interoperable digital wallet solutions across the globe. Members gain access to their expert Government Advisory Council that advises and guides projects in the digital identity, access, and payments realm.

The OpenWallet Foundation has an impressive list of sponsors, from Google to Accenture to Visa. Entidad’s Farmworker Wallet OS open-source project is currently one of OpenWallet’s projects. 

In an effort to make the community as open as possible, anyone can:

  • Participate
  • Contribute code
  • Use community code
  • Contribute to community activities

To get started, join the OpenWallet: mailing list, Discord, Github, or community calendar

5. Sovrin Foundation

The Sovrin Foundation promotes the concept of “Internet identity for all” by building and maintaining a decentralized global public network on a distributed ledger. In this framework, every individual and every group has full control and ownership over their identity. Members of the Foundation lead the open-source effort to develop the Sovrin protocol and manage the code behind it.

After joining, you can:

  • Become a Steward and run a node 
  • Contribute code on BuilderNet
  • Test SSI services on StagingNet 
  • Run SSI services on MainNet 
  • Contribute to a Sovrin Working Group
  • Access the community Slack

If you’re not sure if Sovrin is right for you, consider joining or listening to a Board of Trustees call to get a sense of how the organization works.

Or, keep your finger on the pulse: Sign up for the Sovrin Foundation newsletter.

6. W3 Verifiable Credentials Working Group

The W3C Verifiable Credentials Working Group makes exchanging verifiable credentials easier and more secure over the Internet. This Working Group is a part of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the international standards organization for the World Wide Web.

This group is highly structured, with weekly meetings, face-to-face meetings every few months, and even an introduction course to acquaint new joiners with processes and roles within the Consortium. Members mainly operate via Github, developing specifications and discussing any issues. 

If verifiable credentials aren’t your thing, you may be interested in the RDF Canonicalization and Hash (RCH) Working Group, W3C Credentials Community Group, or the next W3C group on our list.

Check out their most recent conversations: Meeting minutes 

7. W3 DID Working Group

The Decentralized Identifier (DID) Working Group is a separate subgroup of W3C that focuses on developing DID standards and laying a foundation for self-sovereign identity solutions. Similar to the W3 Verifiable Credentials Working Group, the DID Working Group is highly structured, with regular meetings, mailing lists, and dedicated Github repositories.

Joiners work on:

  • Standardizing the DID URI scheme
  • Creating the data model and syntax of DID Documents
  • Developing requirements for DID Method specifications

Get up to speed: Read the last meeting minutes 

8. Internet Identity Workshop

Internet Identity Workshop (IIW) is a conference that happens twice a year at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. At every Workshop, industry experts, developers, and thought leaders collaborate on advancements in digital identity and explore new ideas and technologies, like:

  • OAuth
  • OpenID Connect
  • User-Managed Access
  • Fido

Unlike other conferences, IIW is an “un-conference,” meaning there are no set speakers — just breakout sessions related to topics such as:

  • Data liberation
  • Internet of Things
  • The Semantic Web
  • Free and open devices
  • Trust frameworks

Sign up for the next workshop: this spring or fall

9. Hyperledger Indy

Hyperledger Indy is a collection of libraries and reusable components for creating and sustaining distributed ledgers that are interoperable across industries and applications. Indy is technically a project funded by the Hyperledger Foundation, which is itself part of The Linux Foundation.

Indy code is readily available to anyone who wants to use it, with plenty of supporting documentation. To get familiar with Hyperledger Indy beyond reading developer docs, users can leverage:

  • Tutorials
  • Hyperledger’s Discord
  • Wikis
  • Workshops

See where Indy fits into the open-source ecosystem: Watch an explainer video.

10. Hyperledger Aries

Hyperledger Aries is a different Hyperledger project that aims to provide infrastructure components for interoperable identity solutions. With Aries, you can “store, issue, and present verifiable credentials with maximum privacy preservation.” The ledger is popular for establishing confidential connections and has made a name for itself with its easy, flexible deployment.

So far, Aries has:

  • 17M lines of code
  • Nearly 30,000 commits
  • Over 1,600 contributors

Will the next one be you? Contribute on Github or join the Aries Working Group

11. Microsoft ION

ION is a secure and scalable DID that doesn’t rely on any tokens, validations, or entities. It is an open, permissionless system, meaning that anyone can run an ION node atop the Bitcoin blockchain. Based on the Sidetree protocol, ION can support thousands of DID transactions per second.

While ION is primarily a Microsoft-led initiative, individuals can engage by reading related documentation, participating in events, providing feedback, or participating in the Sidetree Development and Operating Group, sponsored by the Decentralized Identity Foundation.

See it for yourself: Read the ION install guide or explore the ION library

Put your talent to good use

Whether you’re a developer, privacy professional, or simply a curious individual, there’s a place in Web3 for your talents — you just have to find the right group and the right cause.

If farmworkers are a community you care about, consider joining our own organization: Farmworker Wallet OS. We’re a group of Mendix developers building a next-generation digital wallet to empower farmworkers and other underserved communities.

Learn more about who we are, what we do, and how you can help on our website. Or check out what a real developer had to say about the community in a presentation for the OpenWallet and The Linux Foundation.

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Julette Martinez

CEO, Farm Worker Organization