Identity: an inconvenient truth?

An interesting post by Mike Neuenschwander on the Burton Group Identity Blog. I’m not certain I agree entirely with the main thrust of Mike’s argument, which he offers as an axiom:

There are no identifiers, only attributes

That is to say, things are identified by their existence as a collection of attributes in a given context. Some of Mike’s claims, such as “most people have […] several dozen nicknames” seem a little exaggerated. However, his concluding remarks are interesting:

I understand why from a programmer’s perspective, it would be so much more convenient if everybody could simply have one globally unique, unambiguous, resolvable name. But such a quaint design constitutes a wanton disregard for reality. The tech industry is adolescently ID-fixated.

I am professionally interested in identifiers, and am aware of serious interest in the notion of the creation of ‘authoritative’ resolution services for names, in the domain of the publication and use of scholarly work. The ability to reliably cite authors of scholarly works would surely be a good thing. But this requirement has been around for a long time now, and is still not satisfied. Is the “adolescence” of the industry a barrier to pursuing a solution which doesn’t show a “wanton disregard for reality”?

Share this post: Facebook Twitter Email Google Plus
comments powered by Disqus