SSI Orbit Podcast
Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs): DID Methods, DID Documents and DID Resolution (with Markus Sabadello)
By Mathieu Glaude
April 7, 2023

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About Podcast Episode

are a crucial part of our daily lives. 

We have both private and public identifiers. On the private side, examples include Social Security numbers and Driver’s Licence numbers, and there are many private or closed identity systems that manage private identifiers for us. Sometimes, they give us these identifiers in the form of cards or tokens. On the public side, we use public identifiers every day, such as Phone Numbers, Email Addresses, Domain Names, and Usernames.

The vast majority of these identifiers, both private and public, are created and managed by central authorities, such as governments, financial institutions, telcos, email providers, domain name registrars and most service providers. This centralization means that we don’t really have ownership and control over our identifiers or identities, leaving them vulnerable to fraud and misuse.

In podcast episode 45, Drummond Reed makes the point that the email address is still the most widely used identifier, but the most valuable for newer systems and where the Social Web is going is your mobile phone number. The mobile phone number is the most valuable identifier on the dark web because, with mobile phone number portability, it’s your address across multiple systems. It’s also the one you’re likely to hold on to because it’s a pain to change it. Some people have more than one, but a lot of folks only have one of those, whereas it’s very common for us to have multiple email addresses.

Before recording this podcast, I watched a presentation called the AI Dilemma. The presentation was made by some of the same people who created the Social Dilemma documentary on Netflix. In this presentation, they talked about how content-based authentication is dead. With certain advances in AI, deep fakes can be done so easily through both voice and video. You could perfectly mimic someone’s voice with just three seconds of audio, which is kind of scary. It made me think about all these telephone scams that happen and how it’s going to become easier and easier to scam people.

How can we better authenticate things in a world where identity takeovers continue rising, and spoofing is becoming practically impossible to detect? Unpacking identifiers is a good place to start.

Decentralized identifiers, or a new way of managing our identities could be an example of something that could help solve these problems. There’s a growing need for decentralized identifiers that put ownership and control back into the hands of individuals, enabling secure/private/confidential conversations, interactions and relationships.

The full list of topics discussed between Markus and I in this podcast conversation include:


  • An overview of Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) – how DIDs came about, their history and evolution.
  • The core properties of DIDs what sets them apart from other types of identifiers.
  • DID Methods. As of this post, there are 160+ DID Methods listed in this registry. Are they all decentralized? Why are there so many? What are some popular ones that have been adopted?
  • What things to consider in your selection criteria for the right DID Method(s).
  • When would one use DIDs for abstraction purposes vs vanilla public-key cryptography?
  • DID Documents – what can be stored in them? How are they linked to a DID? What are some examples of things you can store in the authentication and service endpoints. How do you interact with them?
  • Using blockchain vs non-blockchain (e.g., DNS server) implementations for storing DID Documents. What are some key elements to take into consideration when looking at these different options?
  • Do DIDs disrupt or enhance existing certificate business models?
  • The power of DID Resolution – how has it evolved, how does it work? (see video ⬇️ for a great explainer)


About Guest

Markus Sabadello has been a pioneer and leader in the field of digital identity for many years and has contributed to cutting-edge technologies that have emerged in this space.

He is co-editor of the Decentralized Identifiers specification at W3C and co-chair of the Identifiers and Discovery Working Group at the Decentralized Identity Foundation.

Markus is founder of Danube Tech, a consulting and development company that works on DID-related infrastructure and products, including the Universal Resolver, Universal Registrar, and the platform.




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