What's Your i-Name?

Catching up on where the early seeds of the grass-roots identity movement have taken hold.

Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal


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Wait until the National Car

willis's picture

Wait until the National Car Rental is more open minded, lol. I would like compact cars too instead of the everyone-could-get Cavalier.

Will - Fox Car Rental

I agree that car rental

Ninna's picture

I agree that car rental businesses need to offer more to retain customers. But they are also facing hard times with accelerating costs. Resolve that first, then they will be more open for next development. The business itslef has a great nature of sustainability.

Auto Insurance

Great article, Doc

Drummond Reed's picture


You put the case for grassroots identity wonderfully. How ironic that either Identity Commons or the OASIS XRI and XDI specifications could be taken as a front for Trusted Computing. Only one member of the Trusted Computing Group (AMD) is even involved, and I can absolutely certify that Geoffrey Strongin, Platform Security Architect at AMD and my co-chair at the XDI Technical Committee, is one of the finest gentlemen you will ever meet in this entire industry.

I agree with your reader that the issues surrounding trusted computing are complex. As Geoffrey frequently puts it: trusted computing is like any other security tool - it can protect the good guys, or protect the bad guys. DRM makes this even more of a Faustian bargain: you're a good guy if it’s your rights being protected (for example, your personal identity data that's being kept safe), or a bad guy if it’s someone else's rights you're trying to break (like an illegal MP3 file).

I certainly can't settle that debate. But I can say that the OASIS XRI and XDI open standards that are the basis for i-name and i-broker architecture are simply tools to help us develop an open, interoperable persistent identity and trusted data sharing infrastructure for the net. And there are many more little companies and individuals involved in the development of these standards that big companies by far.

Please visit the XRI and XDI TC home pages for complete info. And also the Identity Commons Dataweb page for a full picture of XRI/XDI technology.

Thanks Doc,

Blog: Equals Drummond


Alsee's picture

"Grass roots movenment" my ass!

The organisations involved, OASIS (oasis-open.org), XDI.ORG and the others, they are all TRUSTED COMPUTING groups creating "open standards" FOR ENFORCING DRIGITAL RIGHTS MANAGAMENT systems.

XDI.org's FAQ says
What does XDI.ORG do... vision of an accountable, trustworthy layer on the Internet... Specifically its purpose is to: Manage the intellectual property rights for a new data interchange protocol.

This "Identity Commons" wants you to sign up and created a "Trusted Identity" (which is conviently tied to the CREDIT CARD you used to register!), and in the future DRM files will be locked to that identity, and software installations will be locked to that identity, and access to websites will be locked to that identity (single sign-on oh joy) and on and on. And they are offering you an opportunity to sign up and reserve your name before the system is fully deployed, gee thanks.

The system will not be fully operational unless you are running Microsoft's Palladium operating system, or if you are running a Palladiumized version of Linux or other operating system. Palladiumized TrustedLinux is already under construction. And these new operating systems will only work on the new TrustedHardware. IBM and HP and others are already shipping PCs with this new Trust chip. Intel has already embedded a version of the Trust chip inside the Intell Prescott, although it is in an inactive form. The expectation is that the Trust chip will soon be standard on all motherboards, and then move into the CPU itself. Intel, AMD, ARM, Transmeta, and the rest, all of the CPU makers are on board.

The Trust chip spys on your hardware and what software you are running and reports it to other people (remote attestation), the Trust chip makes it impossible to read your own files except with the approval and under the restrictions imposed by the software you were given (sealed storage), it prevents you from modifying the software on your own machine (code identity and sealed storage), the Trust chip even DEFEATS THE GPL! Having the source code and being able to modify and compile it is USELESS when that recompiled code DOES NOT WORK. The Trust chip forbids the recompiled code from access to the required encryption keys. The recompiled code will "run", but it will not WORK because it cannot read it's encrypted files and it cannot interoperate.

I know this sounds like a tinfoil hat conspiracy theory, but IBM is already shipping ThinkCenter, ThinkVantage andNetvista desktops, and Thinkpad laptops with this chip embedded. HP/Compaq are already shipping dc7100 and D530 Desktops and nc6000,nc8000,nw8000, nc4010 notebooks with these chips embedded. Acer Veriton 3600GT/7600GT. Toshiba Tecra M2 Series. Fujitsu Lifebook S7010 and E8000 series and the T4000 Tablet PCs. Samsung all X model laptops. And more every day. As I said, the expectation is that is will soon be standard hardware on ALL motherboards.

If you have to make up an nonunique identifer, what's the point?

Anonymous's picture

>> Later I added =dsearls (I found that =doc already had been taken).

Yep, that's the problem I always have with these things. Some one *always* has already registered my real name so I have to make up a fake, truncated, modified, or otherwise incorrect name instead of using my real name. From the first BBS I signed onto up until the most recent website I registered with, I have never, ever been able to use my real name as an identifier. I don't see how this is any different. It's not allowing me to have a "more human" identifier - just another string of made up numbers and letters that's not really my name.

What's the point? In real life I simply use my real name, I don't have to go around calling myself steve1962 to differentiate myself from steve1975. How is that any better than having an identity number? Of course the early adopters never see this problem. It sounds great to the first person named D. Searls that registers. The next couple of can use dsearls, d.searls, maybe d-searls. but what about the tenth or thousandth? By then you'll be back to having make up goofy hax0r names so we can be unique. Or am I missing the point of this entirely?

i-name goldrush?

Dilireus's picture

This reminds me of the mid-90s when everyone discovered there was money to be made by buying domain names they had no intention of using and then selling for profit. Has anyone thought about how to prevent or at least control this? Is this even something to worry about?

You May Be Missing the Point - These Guys are Good

=jon.ramer's picture

I just wanted to speak up on behalf of the I-Name and Identity Commmons initiatives. I have no financial interest to advance in making these commets.

I have worked with the people involved with the Identity Commons and I-Names for the past three years. They are developing a solution that doesn't leave our digital identities in the hands of commercial interests. This is in our mutual best interest. They are not after a gold rush.

The work grow out PlaNetwork and is well worth visiting http://www.planetwork.net

The Augmeneted Social Network paper outlined the need for identity management as a civil society, open solution. http://asn.planetwork.net/

As I understand the dollars involved they are being used to pay modest salaries to hard working developers.

In community,

Not resellable

Ric's picture

I grabbed 'e' - it available, and it seemed VERY short and easy.

If this takes off, this is worth $25 risk.

On the other hand, these things probably will not be transferable, so it is not a big market like domains.

Try it! Send me a reply through the service at

hmm, your =e does not appear to be active...

Kristofer Dale's picture

"No data found matching the submitted i-name or i-number. The contact page may not be enabled.

If this is your i-name, log in to 2idi and click the Contact Page tab to begin the activation process."

Compact Cars...

Michael Maclean's picture

It always amuses me when people on the North American continent refer to a Ford Focus as a "compact" car. In the UK, there are a lot of cars which are even smaller so the Focus is about average size (assuming they're the same size on both sides of the Atlantic).

Grassroots - has it always been a market?

Tom's picture

Relationships - family and community - preceded governance and markets. This view from Jeremy Rifkin is in an interview published in May 2000:
"What I say to business leaders is "understand that your sector and the government sector are derivatives, not primary institutions." There is no example in history where you first create a government or establish a market, then you create a community. It's always the other way around, although we have lost sight of that lesson. First people establish communities, then they create social exchange, shared metaphors, shared meetings in life. Only when the social capital is well developed do communities create markets for trade and establish governments."

The full interview is at Government Technology:


I've found this perspective useful in my "regional community" work. Our individuality is important, but we don't get here without biological family, don't grow and learn without human relationships, and have nowhere to function without communities.

A hermit dies alone in the woods ending a gene line. Is there a tear? Humanity continues. Optimization of the individual life - go for it - build it yourself.

Mediated trust services to regulate i-name's shield?

David Orban's picture

I enjoyed your speech at the DLS last year, where I was a fellow speaker talking about Linux in Europe. The Chevy metaphor was, and is very valid. I am glad you are supporting the IdentityCommons initiative, and I share your enthusiasm for it, too.

I think that a key element to their value will be the possibility of implementing webservices that, to a certain extent, will enable us to set up rules defining what should be done to a given ping of our i-names. The risk is that while the i-name is an effective shield, it won't speed up the management of worthy contacts or input, if for each decision the human behind it must be involved.


What are citizens?

Jock Gill's picture


I like your essay but think we need to go a lot further than "Markets can grow and thrive at any of three levels: transaction, conversation and relationship."

It seems to me that we require a new 'frame' through which to view what it means to be a citizen. In this frame, I see that we are, first and foremost, active and dynamic creators, producers, and distributors of a myraid of things, including conversations and relationships with other humans. Lastly, we are also, as it happens, consumers of each others creativity, production and distribution.

This new frame redefines the options, payoffs and possibilites for citizenship. It transcends the industrial reduction of citizenship to the status of being merely a consumer trapped in a star network.



a newer of linux

zxchqh's picture

a newer of linux