[OpenID] Wiki page: Attempting to document the "Email Address as OpenId"debate.

Hallam-Baker, Phillip pbaker at verisign.com
Mon Feb 12 16:25:47 UTC 2007


I think that it is very important to remember that there are two separate identifier issues here:

1) What the user is expected to type.
2) The cannonical representation used by the machines. 

In the pre-Mosaic Web browsers the URI simply did not appear in the primary chrome. Open URI was a drop down menu option with a secondary dialogue. The idea was that addresses were something that remained under the covers and just like the SGML like angle brackets were never seen (HTML only became a fully compliant SGML markup later on).


The page is making tenuous distinctions between URLs and URIs that are unfortunately 100% bogus. The whole URN/URL/URI nonsense was a huge mistake as Tim Berners-Lee himself has lamented on numerous occasions, including last month when I discussed the issue with him. The URN/URL thing was never his idea, it was forced on him early on in the development of the Web when he was looking for buy in. URNs are URLs and URLs are URNs, If I take an ISBN it is nominally a URN but enter int into Amazon.com and click buy now and it just became a URL.

Empirically email addresses are an important form of net identifier. If they don't fit into a taxonomic scheme that someone is peddling the answer is to jettison the scheme. Just use the nomenclature that Tim suggested in the first place. 

The only useful distinction to make here is by the registry. There is an important difference between an email address and an ISBN. The first is relies on the DNS system for its semantics, the second relies on the ISBN registry for its semantics.

The only way to make a DNS name more permanent is to attach it to a registration scheme that makes it more permanent. So combine a DNS name and time and you have a permanent identifier albeit one that can only be resolved directly while the name continues to be owned by the same party.


The only case where the choice of identifier makes a real difference is when it is used as a contact address. An authenticated blog URL is a form of contact address. An email address is another which offers greater interaction.

An email address is a contact address, it is not necessarily the only contact address. If someone is offering blog hosting services to people they can also offer email should they choose. This is not likely to be the blogger's only email address unless and until something remarkable has been done in the spam control field.


An 'email' address is simply the conventional conjunction of a username portion and a DNS name portion. It need not be used only for email, nor is it. It is routine for people to use RFC822 addresses for Jabber and other instant messaging applications.

Over time everyone will own their own DNS domain and it will form the hub of their personal communications system. All communication modes will map onto the single unified communication identifier.

By far the most likely identifier to be chosen for this purpose is the RFC822 email identifier. It is embedded in the system at this point.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: specs-bounces at openid.net 
> [mailto:specs-bounces at openid.net] On Behalf Of David Fuelling
> Sent: Saturday, February 10, 2007 3:54 PM
> To: general at openid.net
> Cc: specs at openid.net
> Subject: Wiki page: Attempting to document the "Email Address 
> as OpenId"debate.
> 
> Hi List,
> 
> In light of my recent extension proposal to map Email 
> Addresses to OpenId URLs, I have setup a wiki page on 
> openid.net that attempts to capture all the pro/cons/issues 
> that have been shared in the debate over whether this is a 
> good idea or not.
> 
> http://openid.net/wiki/index.php?title=Debating_Emails_as_OpenIds
> 
> I have tried as best I can to present a "non-partisan" wiki 
> page that simply details the pros/cons of each argument.  
> Basically, the point is to document all sides of the debate, 
> and *not* to endorse one side or the other.
> 
> That said, I'm sure some of my bias is present in the initial 
> wording, so please feel free to suggest changes to my 
> wording, or make them yourself. 
> 
> In addition, please add additional arguments and rebuttals as 
> you see fit.
> The page is not nearly exhaustive (I plan to add some 
> "arguments in favor" + rebuttals tomorrow when I have time).
> 
> Thanks!
> 
> David
> 
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> specs at openid.net
> http://openid.net/mailman/listinfo/specs
> 



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