[OpenID] why is xri so obtuse?

Drummond Reed drummond.reed at cordance.net
Tue Jan 2 00:57:08 UTC 2007

>> On Mon, Jan 01, 2007, Drummond Reed wrote:
>> Victor, thanks for responding. I opened my email this morning and was
>> dismayed to find this thread reinforcing how badly XRI and i-names are
>> misunderstood by many involved with OpenID.
>Greg Hewgill wrote:
>I totally agree that I'm misunderstanding the ideas behind i-names.
>This is particularly understandable as I'm coming from the OpenID side
>of things. I got involved in OpenID because it is free, open,
>decentralised, anybody can participate with no barrier to entry, etc.
>XRI is not free, not open, centralised, and has a financial barrier to
>entry, as evidenced by the following:
>> On Mon, Jan 01, 2007, Victor Grey wrote:
>> Sorry Dmitry -- we have to pay our upstream provider to register an i-
>> name for you, so we have no way to create a temporary i-name. If you
>> want an i-name of your own, you'll have to pay the $20.
>Greg Hewgill wrote:
>As long as such financially motivated companies are trying to collect
>$20 from *every* individual who wants to establish an i-name, it's just
>not going to fly. Apparently, I can't even just pay once and set up a
>site that offers free i-names. I can do this today with OpenID, all I
>need is a domain name and some software.

Although I'm still working on a longer response to Greg's original question
("Why is XRI so obtuse?"), I wanted to make sure Greg's misconceptions that
"XRI is not free, not open, centralised, and has a financial barrier to
Entry" got answered right away:

1) XRI is an open, public, royalty-free identifier standard developed at
OASIS. It is every bit as free as the URI or IRI specifications from IETF
(http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3986.txt and

2) The use of XRI does NOT require the use of XRI global registry services.
Although such registries are supported by XRI architecture, they are only
one option. You can also use XRI infrastructure with a) DNS names, b) IP
addresses, or c) complete p2p identification and resolution as described by
XRI TC co-chair Gabe Wachob in his blog entry at

3) Only if a person or organization chooses to use the XRI global registry
services (GRS) offered by XDI.org (http://www.xdi.org) is there a
registration fee, exactly as there is in any publicly-registerable DNS

(Disclaimer: XDI.org contracts with Cordance (my employer) to provide such
registry services, and Cordance in turn subcontracts operation of these
registries to NeuStar (http://www.neustar.biz). NeuStar is best known for
running many of the global telephone number registries; they also runs the
DNS .biz and .us registries and the .cn and .tw gateways.)

4) Any registrant of a global i-name/i-number (an =name/=!number for
individuals or an @name/@!number for organizations) has the same ability to
delegate community i-names/i-numbers (*names or !numbers) as DNS name
registrants have to delegate .names. That means the vast majority of these
will in fact be free, just as third-level domains are often free. (The only
differences are the order of the segments, delimiters, and allowed
characters. DNS delegates right-to-left, supports only dots as delimiters,
and allows only ASCII characters and dashes. XRI delegates left-to-right,
supports both stars (*) and bangs (!) as delimiters, and permits the full
IRI range of Unicode characters plus dots and dashes.)

Net net: community i-names and i-numbers can be every bit as free and easily
available as DNS names. The challenge is that XRI infrastructure is less
than 1% as evolved as DNS infrastructure at this point, so unfortunately you
can't yet get everything from XRI i-brokers that you can get from GoDaddy at
the drop of a hat.

But we're working on it as fast as we can ;-)


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