Yes, but was it a Good Idea ?

by William Grosso

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There's been a lot of buzz on the web recently about the demise of Real Names. I've run across Real Names 5 or 6 times in the past few years, and each time, I wonder "Why are they doing this? Do they think it has a chance of working?"

The idea in a nutshell: extend AOL's keyword system to the entire web. The thing you have to believe is that a scalable naming system can be created which gives semantically meaningful names to most of the content out there. There might be more to the idea, but that's the core (but don't trust me. Check out Real Name's web site).

It's basically taking the string you would otherwise type into a search engine and assigning it to a single web site.

Does this solve the problem of finding things on the web? No.

Does this make sense technologically? Not to me.

What's more: it's putting a single company in control of how we find things on the web. Which is (warning: gratuitous slam ahead) why Microsoft was interested.

The truth is: RealNames was killed by the success of Google (and other search engines). We can find stuff, we don't need a single, brittle "solution." And all the commentary on Real Names floating on the web is simply noise.

But very interesting noise, from a business and deal-making perspective. I'd recommend reading it before it disappears.