[OpenID] why is xri so obtuse?

Greg Hewgill greg at hewgill.com
Mon Jan 1 10:19:04 UTC 2007

So I've read the OpenID 1.0 spec, I understood it, I implemented my own
identity provider, I've used my OpenID, everything makes sense. I'm
promoting the use of OpenID wherever I can. I am eagerly anticipating
the day when I can use my OpenID on wikipedia, flickr, google, all the
other web sites that today ask for a password, and the dozens of
mailman lists I'm on.

Now, in order to try to catch up with all the latest developments, I've
tried to read about XRI and i-names and now I'm completely baffled.

I've got a domain name and a web page and that's all I need to
establish my own identity using OpenID. I can point to an existing
identity provider or run my own, and that's mine as long as I continue
to renew my domain name (which is a well-established and thoroughly
understood process at this point of the internet's development). 

Now I'm looking at http://www.inames.net/register.html and I see a list
of companies who apparently would be happy to take another $20 to
register an i-name. This process appears to me to be untested and (to
me) un-understood. What happens to my i-name if the I-Broker(tm) that I
choose goes out of business? Can I just be my own I-Broker like I can
be my own OpenID identity provider? Is xri.net a central place to
convert *all* types of i-names into URLs? How do I tell xri.net what my
i-name is and where it should point?

I've seen mention of an i-number but no description about what it
really is other than "like an IP address". I'm not just an end user, I
want to know how this stuff really works. What does an i-number look
like? How does one convert an i-name into an i-number? Is that what
xri.net does? Can I convert an i-number into an i-name? Is the mapping
one to one, one to many, or many to many? What do the queries and
responses look like?

Perhaps I just haven't found the right set of documents that will
satisfy my desired level of curiosity here. Can somebody point me to
real documentation that doesn't include marketing phrases like
"dedicated accredited customer-focused i-broker"?

Greg Hewgill
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