Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Could i-Names be the answer to unsolicited commercial email?

Shel Holtz

i-names could solve a lot of problems

I just spent $25 for an i-name. It’s mine for 50 years. It might end up being worthless, but there’s promise to this concept. It could end up becoming a standard if the word spreads.

I learned about i-names from Mike Vincenty, a friend, colleague, co-author, and IT guy. Identity Commons is the group behind i-names. According to their site, Identity Commons “seeks to foster trusted electronic communications by creating the technological and social framework for an open global trust network. We are a creating a member-owned international federation that empowers individuals and organizations to own, control and share their online identity and profile information in an environment of mutual trust and peer governance.”

Here’s a simple explanation. Instead of putting my e-mail address into a message posted to a bulletin board or even in my e-mail signature, I use my i-name address. When you click on it, you get my identity page that includes information I’m willing to share. If you want to contact me, there’s a form for you to complete. I’ll receive notification of the request.

My i-name is good even if my e-mail address changes, since I can change my e-mail address in my account settings. Give it a try; here’s my i-name link: That’s the universal address you’d see in a plain-text e-mail or post; it would also be the link behind an HTML version that would just show my name.

As it exists now, an i-name is a great way to avoid spam, since spammers can’t do anything with harvested i-names. By building the infrastructure, though, the organization hopes to allow you to use a single password for all the password-protected sites you visit and enter personal data once and use it on forms across the Web.

If it sounds a little like Microsoft’s Passport concept, it is, with the notable difference that you control your information instead of another company.

Sounds too cumbersome to Technoflak.

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