[Esip-preserve] Identifiers for people?

Curt Tilmes Curt.Tilmes at nasa.gov
Wed Mar 7 11:59:20 EST 2012

A bunch of other groups have assigned various sets of identifiers for
most of the other things I'm looking at (Thank you GCMD keywords:

Most of the databases I see seem to ignore the need to unambiguously
identify people.

Most databases simply fall back on a plain text literal and identify
an author as "John Doe" (or even "J. Doe").

I want to indicate that "John Doe" the P.I. for an instrument is the
same "John Doe" who authored some paper.  I need a clear, unambiguous
identifier for that person.

I could simply assign an integer as I insert into my database (I know,
I know -- I am not a number, I am a free man!).  Another thought is
UUID, even though they are big and ugly and make even bigger and
uglier URIs.

foaf:mbox_sha1sum [1] has a certain appeal since independent databases
have a prayer of independently assigning the same identifier to the
same person, but even that relies on jdoe at nasa.gov keeping the same
mbox_sha1sum associated with himself when he becomes johnd at noaa.gov.

Keeping the name itself in the URI is nice since you can look at it
and know who it is talking about (try that with an embedded UUID), but
what do you do when the 2nd (and 3rd) John Doe shows up?  Or if he
becomes Jane Doe?

Other thoughts?


[1] http://xmlns.com/foaf/spec/#term_mbox_sha1sum

Curt Tilmes, Ph.D.
U.S. Global Change Research Program
1717 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 250
Washington, D.C. 20006, USA

+1 202-419-3479 (office)
+1 443-987-6228 (cell)

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