The handle namespace issue is weighing on me. Having one global namespace with unique names is going to create some difficult dynamics. Landgrabs will be a nightmare. If people are selling handles, we’ve done something wrong. The trademark issues will be challenging too.
LinkedIn doesn’t do handles. They do names, and they don’t worry about uniqueness. If you see two people with the same name, you differentiate by looking at their profiles and their networks. In our universe, we have a ton of social data and could also add verification authorities to do checkmarks, etc. We have options that are better than “whoever claims this name first wins”. Similarly, we learn from Adam Langley’s pond app that the solution here is to steer users toward pet names and try not to lean on an individual’s assertion of their own name.
All this leaves aside the mess that would be trademark issues. The domain name space spent a long time coming up with rules on squatting and it took new legislation to really address it. I don’t think we want to end up there, so we should avoid creating a situation where everybody is competing for one limited namespace.
I might even go so far as to cap the number of names in any one namespace. This will force some decentralization and prevent a primary namespace (a la .com). Forcing decentralization in this way is a lesson we learn from the pump.io folks.
All of this adds up to one thing: we should think about how to decentralize handles just like we do everything else!