Wednesday, January 03, 2007


...the i-names thread

If you're a character in Before Sunrise, you've just spent a magically romantic day in Vienna with someone you just met on a train. Instead of exchanging phone numbers, you agree to meet at a rendezvous spot six months from this day. This isn't like meeting someone in town for coffee. This is a test of commitment. This is also a prisoner's dillema. If the other person doesn't show, besides the loss of what could have been, you get to eat an expensive plane ticket.

What does this have to do with i-names?

Phone numbers and email addresses and URLs are unique but they're not as easy to remember as Jesse and Celine. I can imagine a dystopian future where our characters would introduce themselves to each other as =texasjessek and =greencelinefr. Even if they never consciously exchanged information, they could easily hook up again. The penalty outcome has been substantially reduced: If either Jesse or Celine doesn't show up, he or she can be hunted down by the loser of prisoner's dillema game.

, Kaliya presented more value propositions for i-names. Her post was thought provoking. For instance, it has allowed me to consider how many people might prefer an i-name. However, for the time being, none of the cases or reasons made me any more enthusiastic about i-names as a whole.

Kaliya included a snippet from Phil Windley's blog. The main point was that if the different types of addresses (blog, voice, rss, etc) his i-name pointed to changed, people could always find his new addresses through his i-name ( which stays relatively static.

The problem with this is that XRI, as it is similar to DNS, seems to introduce another single point of failure through a limited set of root nodes. That doesn't seem like a good thing.

The problem is the (wonderful) anarchy of the net (well, at least one of the internets...). Who is going to decide their version is better? Same problem with your OpenID -- there are numerous providers.

What if one provider drops out and I am stuck with a worthless ID? ... (somehow it reminds me of my friend in 2nd grade and her BetaMax with only 3 movies to watch)....
Excellent point, ashley, and part of the reason I have stuck with the same edress for over a decade. I find user names to be more like masks: they are easily doffed and donned and allow different personality aspects to be represented.
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