Dr Mark Searle – on I am not a number – I am a tag ..


Like Judy in the previous blog, I have a lot of respect for Dr Mark Searle‘s views. He does an excellent job of explaining the I am not a number – I am a tag concept - perhaps better than I did!

Mark says ..(again at forumoxford )

I can’t speak for Tony of course and his idea is fairly vague but please let me explain what I think he means.

At present, when we set up a communication session we use various ‘addresses’. I use the word advisedly as in reality most addresses are tags in both legacy POTS telecoms and IP-based services. The exception is E164 which developed out of mechanical switch technologies. For example, an MSISDN is a tag as it is not used for addressing but for the identification of an operator and user account. A tempory routing number is used in this case to address a mobile user.

Now things are complicated in IP because this has opened up the possiblities for communication, Email, IM, SMS VOIP etc. The number of ‘addresses’ has increased enormously. This is where ENUM and NAPTR help by allowing a single ‘address’/tag to allow applications to identify the most appropriate ‘address’ for communications e.g sip+2EU, mailto:+E2U etc.

Now where I think there is confusion is in the next stage. I think tony is refering to tags as arbitary pointers to an individual like what you throw up when you do an ordinary google search on ‘Tony Fish’. I think what he is saying is why should I have to remember even the one address that ENUM needs ( . I can search simply by requesting ‘Tony Fish’. So far so good. However what google can’t do is the next stage. The search engine works out from my own information that I must mean a particular Tony Fish and that his contact details are open to you because you are a business collegue and have been authenticated as such. Google can’t make a search based on information Tony entered about his status one minute ago. Google can’t tell me the Tony Fish I found on the search is really the person I want to talk to and not a Nigerian Engineer who wants my bank account details to that he can deposit $25 millon. Oh, and by the way the search also throws up that ‘Tony Fish’ is a bridge player on a thursday so if my mobile is switched off contact him there.

I think we had this system once before you know. It worked very well. It was called a switchborad operator. Strowger has a lot to answer for.

Regards Mark