[OpenID] why is xri so obtuse?

James A. Donald jamesd at echeque.com
Tue Jan 2 00:36:20 UTC 2007

Greg Hewgill wrote:
 > 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?

Your I-broker talks to xri.net - they are retailers for
a single wholesaler.

XRI is, like ICANN, another centralized name system.  If
the center turns evil, you are hosed.

Of course if ICANN turns evil, you are just as hosed,
but ICANN has the advantage of being largely moribund.
If it cannot do sensible things like issue new top level
domains such as .sex and .porn, or authorize well known
public keys for the well known top level domains so that
DNSSEC would actually work, neither can it do evil
things, being permanently bogged down in bureaucratic

Ideally I would like a naming system that worked like
the English language - anyone could use any top level
name they liked, but if they used a top level name that
was already well known for another purpose, they would
have trouble, and if they wanted to *make* their use of
their chosen name well known, they would have to provide
some useful service associated with it, or advertise the
hell out of it, or pay off large numbers of private name
resolvers associated with a multitude of ISPs, or
themselves be famous already, or something similar.

 > 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?

I might buy the i-name jim, whereupon =jim ceases to
map to his i-number, and instead maps to my i-number.

An i-number is a identifier that is not human readable,
but is supposed to be unique and permanent.  Computers
should use i-numbers, and convert them to and from
i-names for human readability.  i-names are not
permanent - you have to keep paying xri for them.
I-names are intended to be human memorable, thus are
necessarily in short supply, and thus necessarily cost
money.  I-numbers are not, thus should be free.

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