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Local Names is an idea that was inspired by wiki; It can be thought of as "the wikification of the internet" by allowing easy linking based on local needs by binding names to urls. This is very similar to the InterMap linking that is available in some wiki software like UseMod and OddMuse. (the praxis is happening with Bliki) However, we at this MediaWiki have not figured out how that works yet. Please pitch in a hand if you know!

For example, the intermap idea would allow us to connect CommunityWiki:FrontPage. Looks like something like it works for MediaWiki Wikipedia:FrontPage

Hi, this is Lion Kimbro, and I'm the main person developing Local Names.

Technically speaking, Local Names is a distributed database of namespaces of name-URL links.

To make a Local Names namespace description, you write a page that looks something like this:

LN "foo" "http://example.net/foo"
LN "bar" "http://example.net/bar"

There it is: a namespace is defined. That's all you need.

It has two names, "foo," and "bar." This is a generalization of ordinary wiki linking, to other pages within the wiki.

It's more general, in that the target of the link need not necessarily be within the wiki.


Now, supposing you wanted to connect to another namespace:

NS "wikiwiki" "http://ln.taoriver.net/wrap/wikiwiki"
NS "C2" "http://ln.taoriver.net/wrap/wikiwiki"

Now, the namespace points to the other namespace; This is a generalization of the InterLink.

It's a generalization, in that it is not pattern based, ("everything is prefixed with FOO,") but rather points to a logical namespace.

LN and NS are the two main record types in a namespace description.

There are two other types of records, that are not usually worth mentioning.


But, I will mention one of them, because I think it's relevant: the PATTERN record type.

If you want traditional wiki-like Intermaps, you make a line like so:

PATTERN "WikiPedia" "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/$NAME"

This is much closer to the traditional InterMap seen on most wiki.

You use this when there are two many pages to list.

Why not use it all of the time?

Because then you can't NearLink, which is incredibly useful, in my experience, and in the experience of the CommunityWiki.

It's really nice to be able to just rattle off familiar names, without telling a computer where they came from. In some cases, there are unavoidable ambiguities, and you must explicitly name a path. ("MB:RecentChanges, or CW:RecentChanges?")


The system is only as powerful as the systems that support it.

I have no special magic, whereby I can automatically deploy Local Names recognition into different software systems around the world.

That said, I have built the following:

  • My Local Names -- you can get a bookmarklet here, that makes it super-easy to name pages as you find them.
  • instructions on a simple FireFox hack, that make it so you can jump to any named page just by typing it's name in the browser's address bar
  • a Local Names WordPress plugin, so that you can use do easy linking on the existing networks via WordPress

Alex Schröder has written an OddMuse extension that can read Local Names namespace descriptions.

My dream is to see this work everywhere. I'd like to see it work in PHPBB, in my email program, in my instant messanger, in nVu, in the comment field in everyone's blogs, and so on.


I can imagine a day in which we think of URLs similar to the way we think about bang-paths today. I don't think URLs will go extinct- far from it. But I can see them "going underground," to the same places where pointers go in most programs. They pop up when there's an error, but other than that, they get out of the way.

Local Names is the beginning of that.

I want people to feel irritated when they see a URL. Programmers will always love them, because there's all kinds of transparent-y goodness in them. But a lot of times, we want to simply talk about things, and we don't want to sacrifice link language.


I hope this answers questions..!

And I'm ALWAYS happy to answer questions about Local Names. It's practically my mission in life. 20:42, 27 August 2006 (EDT)