November 07, 2004

what's in an i-name?

I registered a couple of i-names today, on the off chance they might become useful someday. I guess it was hard to resist getting in early and being able to have the name I wanted. But now this has raised a bunch of questions that I'm not quite equipped to answer. For instance:

1. What should your i-name be? Since it's not clear how they will be most useful (or abused), it's not obvious which name to pick from several obvious choices. Given name? Family name? Nickname? First.Last? Screen name?

2. How many i-names should you have? One? Ten? And should they all point to the same underlying profile/persona? Should you have a different i-name for each of your different contexts? What about pseudo-i-nyms?

3. One of the attributes of an i-name is it is human-readable. That works pretty well for early adopters, who get the good names. But just like AOL and Yahoo screen names, registrants will soon see "Sorry, but the i-name "Gene" is registered to another user. However, Gene11072004, PlanetGenexyz, and Recessive.Gene.123 are available." Are we going to see a repeat of the domain name wars for popular i-names?

4. It's not clear to me how the minting of unique identifiers and their binding to individuals will scale up. How does the system guarantee global uniqueness of IDs, and unique resolution? Since there's no hierarchical structure to an i-name, I guess there will need to be a centralized registry database to look up its corresponding i-number?

5. Can anyone become an i-name mint/registrar/broker? I'm guessing not. This means that every person, place and thing that wants to be i-named, will need to go through a gatekeeper and pay a toll. Ugh. Although it's not specifically aimed at identity services for people, the tag uri scheme has some properties that would have been useful for i-names.

6. How might i-names be compromised? If a bad actor is able to connect my i-name to my underlying identity and connection information directly, bypassing the official resolution mechanisms, what damage can they do, and what is my recourse?

7. What happens if 2idi and the Identity Commons fold?

Well FWIW, it's done and I'm officially =gene. If you're an i-namer too, you should try to contact me that way. Let's see how this works, shall we?

[via Doc Searls]

Posted by Gene at November 7, 2004 11:06 PM | TrackBack



Identity Commons has started a wiki page for the answers at Please join us in this discussion.



Posted by: Drummond Reed at November 12, 2004 04:07 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?