[OpenID] human-memorable namespaces (was RE: Identity concepts explained by cartoon ducks)

Dick Hardt dick at sxip.com
Sat Jan 6 08:35:00 UTC 2007


URLs can provide essentially the same thing can they not?

-- Dick

On 6-Jan-07, at 12:16 AM, Drummond Reed wrote:

> Jens,
> I had a good talk with Eve Maler from Sun about this the other day  
> about
> your point about human-memorable namespaces. Part of the reason  
> that AOL
> users are stuck with names like "fredsmith226" is how constrained  
> DNS syntax
> is. One of the major changes from XRI 1.0 to XRI 2.0 architecture was
> shifting the XRI delegation character for reassignable identifiers  
> (i-names)
> away from dot to star.
> Why? Besides the fact that under the new URI spec (RFC 3986), dot  
> is no
> longer a reserved character, the big reason was that we realized  
> its power
> as a logical separator. For example, many organizations have  
> standardized on
> dots as logical separators in the username portion of an email  
> address. For
> example, my email is drummond.reed at cordance.tld (tld there to kill  
> the spam
> bots -- it's really cordance.net). Unlike the "cordance.net"  
> string, where
> the dot is a DNS delimiter, in the "drummond.reed" string the dot  
> is not a
> machine-meaningful delimiter, only a human-meaningful delimiter. In  
> other
> words, it's only there to make the name easier for people to remember
> because it divides a single syntactic namespace (the username  
> string) into
> smaller logical units for people to process.
> Apply that same concept to a global namespace and it actually  
> becomes rather
> easy for every human on the planet to have a relatively easy-to- 
> remember,
> easy-to-say, easy-to-transcribe address consisting of at most three  
> logical
> segments.
> With regards to English language names, for example, we talk about  
> this as
> the "John Smith" problem. There are probably at least 100K people  
> with the
> name "John Smith". With a single logical segment you could have  
> only two
> i-names:
> 	=john
> 	=smith
> With up to two logical segments, you can have up to four -- the two  
> above
> plus:
> 	=john.smith
> 	=smith.john
> But with three logical segments, you not only can expand the size  
> of the
> semantically-meaningful namespace to include all middle names...
> 	=john.alford.smith
> 	=john.buford.smith
> 	=john.carson.smith
> ...etc., but when you run out of middle names (or don't have one,  
> or don't
> want to use one), you can add any memorable word in the English  
> language to
> create an semantically meaningful name:
> 	=john.smith.montana
> 	=montana.john.smith
> 	=john.smith.boston
> 	=john.smith.boston
> 	=boston.john.smith
> 	=john.smith.red
> 	=red.john.smith
> 	=john.smith.mustang
> 	=mustang.john.smith
> Of course that's just in English. The XRI namespace is Unicode, so  
> the same
> principle applies to all Unicode languages (as supported by XRI  
> registry
> services). Dot (and dash, also supported in both DNS and XRI  
> syntax) are
> universal characters that can be used as logical separators in most  
> (but not
> quite all) languages.
> I just wanted to make this observation since the perception that
> human-memorable global namespace can't scale doesn't take into account
> richer namespaces designed for this purpose.
> =Drummond
> -----Original Message-----
> From: general-bounces at openid.net [mailto:general- 
> bounces at openid.net] On
> Behalf Of Jens Alfke
> Sent: Friday, January 05, 2007 6:02 PM
> To: openid-general
> Subject: [OpenID] Identity concepts explained by cartoon ducks
> In the future, even comic strips will make important points about
> online identity.
> At WhatTheDuck, that future is today:
> http://web.mac.com/aaronandpatty/iWeb/What%20the%20Duck/Comic% 
> 20Strips/75180
> 11B-1F35-45D5-9A08-30C18FC87B91.html
> The ducks have discovered that a global namespace does not ensure a
> human-meaningful name ... the same corollary of Zooko's Triangle that
> I brought up the other day:
>> The ... marketing stuff points out how simple and clear they are.
>> [But] After a few million have been snapped up, the latecomers won't
>> be able to get anything nearly that nice: just like AOL users,
>> they'll be stuck with "=fredsmith226365" or "=ilikecheeeeez", and
>> the memorability advantage is completely lost.
> Note that duck #1 has decamped for the alternate approach of an 11-
> digit non-meaningful "key", which is paradoxically easier to remember
> than the "friendly" alphabetic name. In fact, he's probably already
> associated a short "petname" with the key on his cellphone, so he
> won't have to remember the key at all.
> As you can see, I'm really quaffing this Zooko/Petname kool-aid :-)
> --Jens
> PS: If you dig funny animals explaining CS, you must read "Why's
> (Poignant) Guide To Ruby" < http://poignantguide.net>.
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