Happy Birthday to Us! InCommon Turns 20 in May

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By Kevin Morooney - Vice President of Trust and Identity and NET+, Internet2

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

By Kevin Morooney, vice president of Trust and Identity and NET+, Internet2

For most of us, our perspective on birthdays changes over time and with life experiences. When I was a boy, say 10 years old or so, my friends and I loved birthdays and their parties. These were very focused events. Will I like the cake? How much will I be allowed to eat? How many presents did I get? Do I like the presents? How many friends came to the party? Was I the undisputed center of attention?

Kevin Morooney celebrating birthdays throughout the years.
Kevin’s birthday celebrations through the years

When I was in my twenties, there was a notable shift. The gatherings were less about a focus on the immediate present but tended to be more about the life and times ahead.  Having survived adolescence, with a little bit of clue in my pocket and greenfield opportunities in front me, it was a celebration of what could be, what was yet to come.

As I’ve gotten older, birthdays have become more reflective. It is an opportunity to make an inventory of the successes and failures, reflect on the good and the bad, and wonder about how to continue to make a difference with both scars and wisdom.

So how does this relate to InCommon?

On May 7 of this year, InCommon will celebrate its 20th birthday. I’ve been in and around InCommon for all of these years and speaking for myself, in 2004 I couldn’t imagine 2024 much less wonder if we’d still be around.

Through the Years with InCommon

As it was when I was younger, in InCommon’s earliest years, the focus was very much on the present, the current moment or dynamic. There was a lot to try and figure out, a lot of cat herding and proselytizing to do. IAM and trust federations were a lonely place. There weren’t a whole lot of people thinking about it much less doing anything about it.

In 2024, InCommon is much like twenty somethings celebrating their birthdays…looking forward to all that lay before them.  InCommon has come a long way and learned much on its journey.  Now, in the form of the InCommon Futures2 strategic planning process, we are collectively pondering what comes next. It is an old and sometimes over used adage, but it most certainly applies – what got us here won’t get us “there.”

InCommon 20th Anniversary logo

The First Five Years. When InCommon was just five years old, some community leaders got together to discuss what it would take to keep InCommon going, help make it grow.  In a way it was a bit of a parental dynamic, “What do we need to do to help this grow and mature?” In 2009, the “InCommon Futures Report” was written. In InCommon’s first five years, there were about 100 organizations connected to it. In the decade after the report, InCommon grew to support over 1,000 organizations. The impact of that 2009 report is unambiguously clear.

FifteenYears Later. Community leaders in the form of the InCommon Steering Committee initiated a project to reflect once again on InCommon’s future. We now have a report in hand and have started the conversations to understand how we’re going to put the report into action. 

At the 2024 Internet2 Community Exchange in just a couple of weeks, Marc Wallman (chair), vice president information technology division, North Dakota State University, and I will be presenting on the report and how we’re approaching moving to action. (Check our website later this month for the full report, but here’s the executive summary!)

Kevin Morooney speaking at an event

Ready for Change

A characteristic of this community that grabbed me in the beginning –  and has kept me here – is a strong will to constantly face reality and figure out how to make a difference, together. To lean into the future, we’ll need guiding hands, new resources, and different kinds of resources – just as it was with the first report in 2009.

Join Us in Celebrating

Throughout this year, you’ll be hearing much more about InCommon Futures2 and InCommon’s 20th Birthday. We will be calling the community to action on a number of initiatives and inviting you to celebrate this important milestone with us. Have a memory or photo you would like to share from the past two decades? Please reach out and let us know at participants@incommon.org.