Modern browsers have started to hide them, but an important part of an internet address are those few letters that come right at the beginning – usually ‘http’ or ‘https’, but also including ‘ftp’, or for old-style internetters, ‘gopher’. A fun one is ‘tel’, which lets you encode telephone numbers in the internet’s formalized way; or ‘geo’, for physical locations.

One that has received astonishingly little attention is ‘tag‘. Here’s an example:,0000:DataPacRat

It has two main parts – the naming authority, and the name. (The meaning of ‘tag:’ should be obvious.)

The first part of the naming authority is supposed to be either a specific email address, or a full domain. Since I run on my own, I might as well keep things short, and just use that.

The second part of the authority is a date. The intention here is that email addresses and domains change hands over time, so it’s useful to indicate who owned them at the time by indicating when they were owned. I picked up shortly before August 8, 2008, so it would be easy enough for me to use 2008-08-08 as the date field. However, the ‘tag’ description also says that the date field can indicate a date when /nobody/ owned the email/domain in question, as long as there’s reasonable proof that nobody /else/ owned it between the indicated date and when the naming authority got control over it. Since I’m the very first person to own, I could pick any date before the present, and as long as it conformed to the internet specs for the date format, it would be valid. Speaking of date specs, it’s possible to shorten the date to just a month, or just a year; and the tag’s official format requires a ‘four digit’ year, which the date spec describes for any year between 0000 and 9999. So, once again, to keep things short and sweet and easily memorable, I’m using the year 0000.

After that comes… anything the naming authority wants. It’s a full namespace, open for whatever purposes are desired. It could refer to people, places, concepts, data, anything. In this particular example, I hereby define DataPacRat as referring to one thing in particular: myself.

To show some of the versatility of this, let’s try an extreme and possibly absurd example. Let’s assume that at some point in the future, my mind gets uploaded into the form of a digital computer program; and copies start being made of it. If ‘DataPacRat’ refers to me, and all of the copies are me, does that mean that the single ‘tag’ URI refers to all of them? It can – unless I set things up ahead of time to be able to handle the situation. As it happens, I have a naming schema already worked out for just such an occasion.

Before any copies are made, DataPacRat refers to the single instance of me. At the moment of copying, DataPacRat.0 refers to the non-running version, the inactive data which can have copies made. The first such copy is DataPacRat.1, the second DataPacRat.2, and so on. Should DataPacRat.2 be copied, then we get DataPacRat.2.0, DataPacRat.2.1, etc.

If need be, various further details can be established to identify more exactly which copies get which names, if non-copying edits are made, if data about when copies are made is lost, how to compress unfeasibly long names, and so forth – but that’s just one, simple example of the power of having your own namespace.

And for now, this is DataPacRat, hoping to one day become DataPacRat.0, signing off.

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