Email addresses and usernames are used as proxies for identity when creating the userID for a service.  These are intended to be anchors in the service’s user table; persistent, stable, unchanging.  In reality, userID values change frequently.

Many services use your email address as your userID.  Others require a separate username along with your email address. Sometimes our preferred username is not available or it is not allowed under their esoteric rules. JohnHandcock is already taken? John Handcock is available. No spaces, OK. John_Handcock. No special characters. JohnHancock007 is free.

Online identity is fractured and ephemeral.  We have a handful of username variation which are chosen at different times for different reasons.  Most of us have at least two active email addresses.  We abandon email accounts and create new ones as we change jobs, change ISPs, change our personal preferences or simple decide that a clean start is the best way to get to inbox zero. AOL is abandoned for Earthlink, then on then on to AT&T for DSL and then to your cable company for speed.  Hotmail abandoned for @Yahoo and then on to @Gmail or @office365. Plus that @facebook email you never use and the @me account that comes with your iCloud account.   Hundreds of user accounts are either updated or left behind every time we switch. Return to long neglected service and you get to play no one’s favorite online game: Guess Your Credentials.

UNS stands for Universal Name System. UNS takes a very different view of identity.  In UNS,  your identity is defined as the Group of Trusted Devices registered with your Identity Guardian. Users subtract devices and add new ones over time as they are lost, broken or become obsolete. Each changes updates your identity across all of the accounts you have pinned in UNS while updating the credentials to prevent access by removed devices.

Your devices, email addresses, usernames and preferred services change but your identity stays the same.

You Are You. Let’s keep it that way.