Disclaimer: I've been thinking about this concept for a while and I personally think it's great (although riddled with flaws) so I wanted to share it. This is nothing like anything I've every written before and you probably need a bit of an imagination to enjoy it.
The concept is surely flawed in many ways but I want to discuss only the positives for now to stop this article dragging on. Maybe ill go into why it's a bad idea in another post.
We Need a Unique ID
Everybody has at least one unique ID. It's currently managed by the country that you live in. In the UK there is a national insurance number, the US has a social security number and here in Australia we have a tax file number. These ID's are all obtained and used in very different ways but they're all just a unique ID mapping to a living person.
We Have to Many ID's
I mentioned the main ID's that people already have but there are so many more. Nowadays we commonly have a driving licence, passport, tax related number, electoral roll number, a personal domain, email, phone numbers and probably others depending on the country you live in. OK they're not all strictly ID's but many of them are and the others are very likely to be something unique to you.
A Domain To Rule Them All
I used personal blog in the list of ID's above and some may argue that's not good enough. After all if you forget to pay your renewal it's gone and that's not going to cut it for our life long ID. So I introduce a domain as a unique ID.
When every child is born we give them a domain name. This domain name can be similar to their family name, it could even be a sub domain of a domain that is their family name. It would have the relevant ccTLD for the country they were born in. The domain points to a web application that is used to track all the personal information that is currently stored against our records. Medical records, qualifications, driving abilities, current location you reside in, criminal sanctions, everything that we do would be accessible by accessing your domain or probably a sub domain.
For example my domain name could be dougherty.net.au and my medical records would be stored at medical.dougherty.net.au. We could then introduce systems to allow skilled professionals who need access to this information such as doctors access to our relevant sub domains.
We could easily share information with others. I would have the choice to share qualifications.dougherty.net.au or resume.dougherty.net.au with potential employers, pictures.dougherty.net.au with family and friends and more. There are endless things in our life we could categorise and having them all exposed online with fine grain access permissions would be great.
- We no longer need multiple ID's. All of our information is stored on sub-domains of our unique domain.
- All of our information is stored online and accessible from anywhere. This makes it easy for us to access our own data. How difficult is it for me to view my own medical record now?
- It becomes trivial to share information with others.
When You Get Hacked
I know I said no negatives but this one seemed like something I should mention. Putting everything online could quite possibly lead to the greatest security breach of all time. We could create a new movie. The possibilities of identity theft would be almost to easy.
That said if someone hacked my Gmail account I'd probably be in just as bad a situation today.
Have you considered how long these domains would need to be?
email is already the defactor unique identifier, and those who care tend to use their own domain (ie, for all intents and purposes I am email@example.com, and probably always will be).
What about concerns about privacy? etc? What about different personas online? One for games, one for business, etc?
@richo - I don't think they would be much longer than your full name.
@Anon - Good point, this certainly would be something to consider. Privacy would be an obvious concern which isn't easily solved. The different personas is more, you would just have a new domain the same way people do now.
I've thought about this too, and come to many of the same usability and concerns that you have as well. And to some extent, I do tend to use my domain as a unique ID... though not to the givenname.familyname.countrycode example that you've given. Its made sense to me, and if I had a few more controls on my end to navigate some aspects of communication, I'd have something pretty versatile that could be done, for example:
- visit contact.antoinerjwright in a browser and you get my website, but type it into a messaging app and it comes to me as an IM/SMS/MMS type of message
- a company wants to query me for skills, so they go to resume.antoinerjwright and I get a prompt to the device/service of my choosing that someone is asking for a preview of my credentials, I then offer them some kind of constrained access to this with allowances to how many levels they can share/use it after that
It makes sense, and largely means that we would need to rethink a lot about securuty, access, administration, and even the idea of a file. But, if we went this route, a domain as ID, we'd have one amazing neural map of how we connect to one another, and redefine what regional boundaries look like to the extent that latitude and longitude did to the age of colonization.
In the UK it's called the National Insurance number, not the National Security number.
@Bryan, that's for correcting me i'll update that. I did know that as I'm a British National but obviously got myself mixed up.