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human-meaningful names and zooko's triangle [was: Re: FOAF developers taking FreedomBox into their equation]

From: Daniel Kahn Gillmor <dkg@fifthhorseman.net>
Date: Mon, 14 Mar 2011 19:26:52 -0400
Message-ID: <4D7EA43C.3010803@fifthhorseman.net>
To: Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net>
CC: WebID XG <public-xg-webid@w3.org>, freedombox list <freedombox-discuss@lists.alioth.debian.org>
(for some reason, my MUA thinks that this message from henry story may
be a scam.  it is not.)

On 03/13/2011 08:11 AM, Henry Story wrote:
> If you had a global reliable distributed public key inscription/lookup service, then one could create URLs based on it so that boxes could be moved easily. Perhaps one could create such HTTP URLs based on the existence of such a service. call these httpk urls. The could look something like this
> 
>   <httpk://lhslkdhfsdfsdfsfsfdsxxs23sfsdf/people/Alice#fb>

Without getting into the details, it sounds to me like you're proposing
dropping human-meaningful identifiers entirely (and relying on the FOAF
assertions to situate the opaque identifiers in a social context).  This
is an interesting approach, but it makes it difficult to mix between the
online and offline worlds, i think.

At this point, I'd rather not comment on the specifics of whether to use
HTML forms, what specific structure each datapoint should use, etc,
because i think we don't have consensus yet on how we should handle the
basics of the naming question.

If we give up on human-meaningful names, then yes, i think the rest of
the puzzle pieces fall into place -- it's not terribly hard to come up
with a distributed name→address resolution mechanism that covers a
cryptographically-strong namespace.  We can then use that address
resolution mechanism to make requests about the rest of the related data
(e.g. what human-memorable name each entity claims for itself, and what
names other entities claim for it).

Revocations become quite permanent in that case (the name itself gets
retired), and (it seems to me) it becomes difficult to refer cleanly and
unambiguously to a specific entity in the offline world while online,
and vice versa.

However, petname-style proposals (which i think includes the system
Henry sketched here) implemented on trusted hardware allow humans to
have some sort of private/non-universal human-meaningful name that they
can apply to a given peer.

What do other people think of the consequences of this sort of tradeoff?

I'm assuming that people in this discussion are aware of the concept of
Zooko's Triangle (whether you subscribe to it or not).  If you haven't
read about it yet, please take a second to do so:

  https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Zooko's_triangle
  http://zooko.com/distnames.html

Regards,

	--dkg


Received on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 15:37:58 GMT

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