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Username: steve smith
Date/Time: Sat, November 4, 2000 at 1:06 PM GMT
Browser: Microsoft Internet Explorer V5.0 using Windows 98
Score: 5
Subject: Support for this application and some suggestions


I believe this to be the strongest proposal for personal name space as it has a universal naming convention that can include everyone in the world in the same structure.

The proposed personal name format of firstname-middleinitial-lastname.NNNN.i where NNNN is a number from 1 to 9999 has better coverage than the proposals for .NOM and .NAME by many orders of magnitude. Their proposals can only get the necessary coverage of popular names such as ‘John Smith’ by requiring users to use nicknames, fantasy names, professions or a variety of confusing formats. These solutions trade off a standardised format for the creation of  attractive domain names. The few will get an attractive domain name, the many will have to ‘make do’.

We need a single format of address for everyone which has no implied hierarchy (ie no one address is seen as significantly preferable to any other). I would therefore make the following suggestions to  Sarnoff Corp:-

1. Extending the number format

The format of the name should be firstname-middleinitial-lastname.NNNNNN.i allowing 1,000,000 people to share a common name rather than just 10,000. There are 12,000 John Smiths in the UK and many times that number in the US. Middle initials are not evenly distributed so it is certain that a five digit number will be insufficient. A 6 digit number would allow for the future. Presumably if the John Smith who uses www.john-a-smith.73423.i dies his address remains as  a permanent tag for that individual and is never re-issued.

2. Removing hierarchy

In a 1970’s comedy program called ‘Citizen Smith’, Smith was talking in a pub to his friends about the new world following a popular revolution in England. ‘Brothers’ he said ‘we will no longer have titles and names that allow one man to be seen as superior to another – we will just have numbers’. ‘What number will you have’ asks his friend ‘Number one of course’ says Smith.

The point here is that numbers do have their own magic, and www.john-a-smith.000001.i would be seen as preferable to www.john-a-smith.734423.i. This is something to be avoided. I would suggest then that certain numbers are not issued :-

all numbers below 100,000 (also has the benefit of reducing problems of people ignoring leading zero’s)
All number with all repeating digits – 111111, 222222, etc
Numbers ending 000
Numbers with two repeating triples - 372372, 592594, etc

You could go as far as you like with this, but the intention should be that no one number can be perceived as being significantly better than any other number

3. Removing precedence

When John Smith applies for a personal address the number given to him in the address should be randomly selected from within the number range. The fact that one John Smith has a lower number in his address than another John Smith will not imply that he was ‘online’ first, or that the other was an internet laggard.

I hope that you find these suggestions useful and I wish you luck with your application.

Steve Smith


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