The Names Project states that it

…is going to scope the requirements of UK institutional and subject repositories for a service that will reliably and uniquely identify names of individuals and institutions.

The trick is that a name is not usually unique – names are always context sensitive and when their context expands they can become ambiguous. My name, Sean Reilly, was unique within my immediate family but is far from unique on the internet or even in my city.Identifiers on the other hand, are always unique. You might say that identifiers are names in a certain context that ensures that a name can’t refer to two different things.My guess is that the Names project is actually looking for a system of identifiers to use in place of names.There is no shortage of identifier systems on the net, such as Handles, DOI, OpenID, XRI and, of course URI.I’d suggest they use Handles for the Names project, but I’m biased. I’d at least recommend changing the name or stated purpose of the project to something with more of a focus on identifiers instead of names.


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