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Dragging Telephone Numbers Into the Internet Age

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the imagine-that dept.

Communications 239

azoblue writes with this teaser from Ars Technica, presenting a tempting suggestion for online consolidation: "E-mail, IM, Facebook, phones—what if all of these ways to reach you over a network could be condensed into a single, unique number? The ENUM proposal aims to do just that, by giving everyone a single phone number that maps to all of their identifiers. Here's how it works, and why it isn't already widely used."

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239 comments

It's not the same (5, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777762)

Jenny, I got your number
I'm gonna make you mine
Jenny, I got your number
86.75.30.9

Re:It's not the same (5, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777844)

Jenny, I got your number
I'm gonna make you mine
Jenny, I got your number
3ffe:1900:4545:3:200:f8ff:fe21:67cf

Re:It's not the same (5, Funny)

BetterSense (1398915) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778690)

Rikki don't lose that number
You don't want to call nobody else
Send it off in an email, to yourself

Re:It's not the same (2, Informative)

epine (68316) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777856)

Jenny, I got your number
I'm gonna make you mine
Jenny, I got your number
86.75.30.9

You, too? Last visible hop 10.226.70-86.rev.gaoland.net gaoland.net seems to be slashdotted already.

One ring to find them all, one ring to bind them. I wish had the graphics talent to rework that scene where the Nazgûl rider is sniffing the tree roots for sneaky hobbits, and his phone goes off with some super goofy ring tone. We could redo Orthanc as a wifi repeater and that eyeball as a Pringles can.

I'd rather have call display that worked reliably.

Re:It's not the same (5, Interesting)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777862)

Impress your friends with geek AND music knowledge. In addition to being the phone number in the Tommy Tutone song, 867-5309 is also a prime number. It's also a prime twin, so (I think) 867-5311 is also a prime number

Re:It's not the same (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30778102)

Yeah it's a Chen Prime. Weird.

well yeah (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778478)

if jenny is worth writing a song about her phone number, you just know she is a prime cut of female finery

as for the issue of prime twins, oh man, are her twins prime!

Spam spam spam... (5, Insightful)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777768)

Great, then spammers only need one number to send you all sorts of spam in all kinds of different ways. And even better, they can try random numbers!

Re:Spam spam spam... (0, Offtopic)

aurispector (530273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777920)

Can you imagine your phone ringing all night with nigerian scammers? 3 am and it's "greetings and salutations, I am a representative of a banking consortium..."

Re:Spam spam spam... (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778140)

Or you're in bed making love, the phone rings "would you like a penis extension?", while at the same time you get a text message about v1agr@, and all of a sudden the mood goes down, and an important bodily function goes down with it... in fact, this might make spam a lot more effective!

Please no!!! (5, Interesting)

Choozy (1260872) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777774)

All I can think of is SPAM. I understand the idea and sometimes I think it'd be a great tool (especially if you move ISP's etc, everything would move with you kind of like redirecting your real mail when you move house but with less hassle) but I consider my privacy (what little we have left in this world) way more important than having a single identifier.

Re:Please no!!! (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777828)

A public key specification can prevent this.

The public key is your address. Nobody knows your public key directly however, just your alias. So your alias can be an email address, your nickname, whatever.

The private key is your decrypter and the only way to access them.

(in before that spam form).

Re:Please no!!! (3, Insightful)

Abreu (173023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778022)

C'mon, if we can't convince the normals to use decent-strength passwords in their hotmail, and to stop saying "yes" to everything on Facebook, you want them to use public key crypto??

Re:Please no!!! (1)

happy_place (632005) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777936)

If all our numbers were condensed into one number, then we'd have one MORE number to memorize... cuz you know someone would find some reason to have all the others, and then we'd all need them. :)

I for one do not welcome this (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777780)

It is an invasion of my privacy and my right to have many numbers. Why should only Italians have multiple digits and addresses? America's hard working Christian Farmers and Small Business Owners created the Internet and should control who calls us on our telephones, not some Italian layabouts down in Mexico.

How about using IP6? (3, Interesting)

master_p (608214) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777784)

A single IP6 address could be enough for all those things.

Re:How about using IP6? (2, Insightful)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778196)

Do you really want to have to dial +DEAD:BEEF:CAFE:123:4567:890A:BCDE:F?

This uses a well understood system (DNS, and in the future, DNSSEC) to use the same numbers you already have to link to other online identifiers, including IP addresses. So we get all the benefits of IPv6 without having to switch everyone to potentially 39 digit addresses in their phone.

What you propose would be the death of picking up girls in bars, that's for sure. How do you propose to convince them to spend that much time writing down their number?

I don't want a "number" (5, Insightful)

jbb999 (758019) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777800)

Why would I want a "number" for that? That's why DNS was invented, so we could move forward from using numbers to identify things and use proper identifiers instead. This is a step backwards in many ways.

DNS (2, Informative)

pikine (771084) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777958)

The ENUM proposal is essentially asking for DNS lookup as a public service run by government or other regulatory bodies. First of all, as you said, why don't we just use names? And second, I'm not sure we want public DNS run by government or regulatory bodies. We already have community-run free DNS service such as http://freedns.afraid.org/ [afraid.org] or commercial free service like http://www.dyndns.com/ [dyndns.com] or http://www.zoneedit.com/ [zoneedit.com]. If you're worried that free services would go away, a lot of domain name registries are also offering DNS service at nominal fee, and they would be less likely to vanish. Several people can share the cost of a domain.

All people need to do is to find creative uses of domain names. I think this is the hard part.

Re:DNS (5, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778120)

I didn't RTFA, but it's not a new idea, and both you and the submitter seem to be missing the point. You can store arbitrary contact addresses in NAPTR records in DNS, so you can store email, SIP, POTS addresses, or anything else that can be represented by a URI. The other part of this is allowing reverse mappings, from telephone numbers to something less archaic.

Telephone numbers, like IP addresses, are globally unique network endpoint identifiers. They are assigned by the UN (specifically the ITU-T, which assigns prefixes to countries) and allow you to call any telephone from any other telephone in the world. The problem comes when you have an endpoint that is really a SIP account, for example. Currently, that mapping has to be done in quite a static way.

The idea of the proposal is that the e164.arpa. domain will be reserved for resolving telephone numbers to domains, just as in-addr.arpa is used for resolving IP addresses to names. This doesn't need to be government run, but it does need to be authoritative. That means that e164.arpa will be controlled by the ITU, 1.e164.arpa will be controlled by the USA, 4.4.e164.arpa by the UK and so on. You will then get a subdomain of this. Telephone companies that have large assignments of phone numbers get large ones, individuals may get a single 15-digit number. This can then map to any other resource.

It's not intended as a long-term solution. Eventually, the POTS network is going away (large chunks of it are IP internally already) and you will just use DNS to map directly to SIP, but while interoperability with the POTS network is desirable - say, for the next couple of decades - this lets people with POTS phones initiate calls to SIP phones without having to define a specific bridge or static routing. You'll dial a number on your phone, your telco will look up the SIP address and then route the call there via their bridge.

I currently have a phone number connected to a SIP address, but it only works from POTS lines because my SIP provider operates a SIP to POTS bridge. With this proposal, anyone can operate one trivially. You will just need to get an e164 number assigned to you and configure the DNS entries to point to your Asterisk (or whatever) server.

Re:DNS (2, Informative)

xaosflux (917784) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778282)

I didn't RTFA, but it's not a new idea

It certainly is not, 1996 just called and wants their Universal Internet Numbers back (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICQ#UIN)

Re:DNS (2, Interesting)

pikine (771084) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778702)

I currently have a phone number connected to a SIP address, but it only works from POTS lines because my SIP provider operates a SIP to POTS bridge. With this proposal, anyone can operate one trivially. You will just need to get an e164 number assigned to you and configure the DNS entries to point to your Asterisk (or whatever) server.

VoIP providers are in the business of running the bridge, which duplicates the functionality of telephone number to IP address mapping like ENUM. You configure the bridge to route calls to your SIP server, and it all works as intended. What makes you think a POTS provider would be willing to route calls over e164.arpa lookup? If they were to implement something new, might as well ask them to implement dialing by URI.

I also don't see why you want a telephone number to redirect to some URI that the phone might not be able to interact with (say, a landline phone dialing a number that maps to an e-mail address). If the phone understands the URI, just enter the URI directly to the phone. I don't even remember phone numbers anymore, but have much better luck with e-mail addresses and IM screen names.

Re:I don't want a "number" (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778018)

For individuals, I think a number would be a cleaner approach. The overhead of DNS shouldn't be wasted on something like this when you can already associate phone numbers with contact lists on your cell phone or PDA. When I call someone, I just go to their name in my address book; I barely know the cell phone numbers of anyone in my family.

Re:I don't want a "number" (1, Insightful)

1s44c (552956) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778112)

For individuals, I think a number would be a cleaner approach. The overhead of DNS shouldn't be wasted on something like this when you can already associate phone numbers with contact lists on your cell phone or PDA. When I call someone, I just go to their name in my address book; I barely know the cell phone numbers of anyone in my family.

If you were at a payphone after the battery on your gadgets runs out what would you be more likely to remember, a phone number, or a dns name?

Doing the name to number mapping on your cellphone only fixes the problem from that one phone. DNS for phone numbers fixes it everywhere.

Re:I don't want a "number" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30778176)

MOD PARENT UP!

Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.

Re:I don't want a "number" (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778226)

I don't see the harm in standardizing a number system to use, then adding a name-based system on top of that- exactly the way DNS works in the first place. Not to mention I don't care to have a new version of domain squatters rush in just yet.

Some questions (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777802)

Who has access to search through all the mappings that are created? Why stop at just a single phone number, why not have a single identity number and map everything (phone numbers, bank accounts, paychecks, etc.) to that single number. Who would then even need a name, just write your identity number on a sticky note and put it on your forehead, or embed a RFID chip in you at birth.

You mean... (3, Insightful)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777818)

Like a social security number or tax id?

Re:You mean... (1)

MrMr (219533) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777926)

You are aware that social security numbers only work for your tribe?

Re:You mean... (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778110)

Thats one of the reasons that we have Tax ID's. So that members of other tribes can also be part of the wonderful Social Security Number experience.

Re:You mean... (2, Insightful)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778294)

I was just providing an example of a numbering system for a large location that everyone in said location uses.

However, this would be silly to do IMO (like the SSN). You get owned on one account and you are owned everywhere. There are advantages to having different systems for different resources.

Why would you want to keep the telephone number? (5, Interesting)

Omegium (576650) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777826)

(I posted this earlier on Ars Technica)

Why would you want to keep the telephone number?

The telephone number is a good example of a situation where the technical factor prevailed over the human factor. Numbers are abstract and difficult to remember for most people. And since its invention we have needed to use lists to associate these numbers to things we actually can remember, such as names.

I think it will go completely the other way, and that in 50 years people will never have heard of phone numbers. The identifier will be the email address, and if I want to call someone I select that address and press "call", and a VOIP connection will be made. If I want to IM or mail, I press other buttons.

The email address is easy to remember, it has build-in identification of the purpose you want to use it for (private, business, ...), can already be used for several types of communication (mail, jabber) and is completely transparent to location

Re:Why would you want to keep the telephone number (4, Insightful)

MrMr (219533) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777992)

I prefer a mobile with just 10 data entry keys.
The user-friendliness of having to select something from a 150 entry drop-down or having to press every key (a different) multiple times is vastly overrated.

Re:Why would you want to keep the telephone number (3, Insightful)

Nomeko (784750) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778284)

And you'r not able to search the list using the 10 digit keypad on your phone?

I'm able to call noob only by pressing 666 :P

Re:Why would you want to keep the telephone number (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30778538)

How is this insightful. I cannot remember the last time I typed a cellphone number to call someone and selecting someone from a long list with just 10 keys works fine thank you.

Re:Why would you want to keep the telephone number (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778696)

I know the blackberry- along with many/most other phones I'm sure- has voice recognition to allow you to assign a name to various phone numbers as you wish. Despite phone numbers having to be unique, this system lets everyone use "home" as the name as their home phone number, and everyone with a friend named Dave can call a different Dave. Not to mention you can use whatever name you would find easy to remember. I would rather use a similar, user-defined naming system on top of a unique number standardized system. Among other things I don't think we need another batch of domain squatters and squabbling over what company gets what common names, so I favor making this numbering system and leaving it at that.

Re:Why would you want to keep the telephone number (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778700)

Yeah keep thinking that zippy.

How exactly will emergency phone calls like 911 work?

Yeah see that's the problem. There's alot more going on with phone number than you realize.

Then of course there are the privacy concerns.

Techno-morons need to think and stop masturbating over shiny new gadets!

Re:Why would you want to keep the telephone number (3, Informative)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778980)

A number is very easy to give over the phone. Easier than an e-mail address. This as so many letters sound very similar and so.

In practice I have been giving my fax number over the phone so they could fax me their e-mail address. Works great! Particularly considering I am often working with Chinese and other Asians with sometimes very poor spoken command of English. Numbers then go remarkably easy.

X.400 all over again (3, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777832)

This is making many of the mistakes X.400 did, albeit on a smaller scale.

People want tokens that are easy to remember. Email addresses like "myname@example.com" are much more memorable than "C=US/OU=Example/FN=My/LN=Name" or "+1 234 456 6789". If someone's using this service, they're using an internet-capable device, so they can enter an alphanumeric address and don't need to remain compatible with Strowger's switch.

Cute hack... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777836)

But I'm not quite sure why I would want to tie all my shiny new contact mechanisms to a 19th century relic controlled by the telcoms, entities which are sclerotic at best and downright evil at worst.

ENUM seems like the sort of thing that would happen if you got a bunch of fairly sharp techies together and told them that it was an axiomatic, foundational, truth that telephone numbers must remain relevant and central to communication. Within those constraints, they seem to have come up with a good solution. Those constraints, though, seem irrelevant. The internet, and its design philosophies, is simply better.

Been done: .tel domain (4, Informative)

benwiggy (1262536) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777846)

You mean like the .tel domain?

.tel provides all contact information: phone numbers, postal addresses, email, web addresses, etc -- all within the DNS.

Why on earth.. (4, Insightful)

Nomeko (784750) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777850)

would you use the phone number as a universally unique id?

One user might have several phone numbers, while the one phone number might have several users.

Additionally, the phone number is not portable across national borders. You can not bring your Norwegian phone number and use it with an american registrar.

Additionally users might be forced at regular basis to change their phone numbers. Me for one, had to change my phone number when I changed employer.

Database designers have known this for ages. Always assign a new unique id to any row in a table. Ids that seem unique and stable might change. Even social security numbers might change.

Oh.. Who would want all their contact info to be collected in one global system available for all?

why backword? (2, Interesting)

xonicx (1009245) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777870)

ENUM is a temporary workaround to make SIPURI and TelURI compatible. Once everyone start using sipuri, enum will phaseout. joe@airtel.com is easier to remember than +918764233906

Single person != single identity (4, Insightful)

KlaymenDK (713149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777880)

I do not want a single number, because I do not have a single identity.

I do not want my work to call me on my personal phone, so they don't have that number. But my job naturally requires some amount of phone work, so they all have *that* number. Makes sense, right?

Re:Single person != single identity (3, Insightful)

Octorian (14086) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778028)

I agree with you completely on this notion of a person having multiple identities. I often run into other people who I wish would get the message.

At best, we need two identities. Basically, a work identity and a personal identity. (Of course in reality its quite common to have multiple work identities depending on your specific situation, but they're rarely all actually necessary.)

One thing that makes no sense to me, however, is all the people out there who use their work identity *as* their personal identity. Often these people may be the same types who "don't use a computer at home" and thus do all their computing at work. Or maybe they simply don't understand that its actually a good idea to keep them separate. Probably the only thing that'll knock them in-line is a surprise hostile layoff. (which may not be likely everywhere, but you always have to expect it as a possibility)

Re:Single person != single identity (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778796)

As time goes on and our culture evolves, there will be fewer people using their work identity as their personal identity for the simple reason that they've changed jobs a few times and understand what a bad idea it is. (Especially when one of those "surprise hostile layoffs" is termination for personal use of a company computer.) Becoming an employee @example.com and remaining there for the rest of your life is a quaint 20th century notion, and I'd be really surprised to see anyone under 30 (or even 40) thinking that they could use their work identity as their personal identity (unless they're the sort of luddite/technophobe who still writes checks at the grocery store).

Re:Single person != single identity (1)

BitKat (14840) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778066)

Well, with ENUM you can still have those two numbers, each referring to their own set of services. One for home use and one for work. Where's the problem?

Re:Single person != single identity (1)

hanabal (717731) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778238)

what about contact number just for friends and family. Of course you wouldn't want to give your main number to a random girl in a bar who might start stalking you, so you have a new number just for that occasion. you may also prefer a number to be used by services that you have to sign up for. and it goes on

Re:Single person != single identity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30778756)

Because Home and Work aren't enough. Do you want EVERYONE you know in your personal life to have access to ALL your communication methods? What about the annoying guy you get emails from daily? At least with email, you can easily filter, and there is a lesser expectation on his part of your reply being timely. If your ENUM id gave that person access to your phone, it would be ringing all day long. What about the throwaway emails you use to register software, since some packages require a real address? Do you really want all the resulting spam to flood your actual personal email address? I keep a separate email for family, one for school friends, one for gaming friends, one for coworkers, one for work, one for my wife, and something like 5 more for forums, software registration, etc. I don't, in any way, want all that tied together.

And of those, ONE is tied to my actual home street address.

Re:Single person != single identity (1)

LarrySDonald (1172757) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778308)

Hell of a lot of it. If you want to be found, you can easily get your name (with perhaps a general location, like "John Random Loser, Iowa") to be the top google hit. Put everything you please on the page, including any phone numbers, addresses, GPS coordinates, etc. There you go - anyone who knows your name and perhaps some minor detail to tell you apart from namespace crashes can find out all of your contact info. But we don't do that, because of the people we'd prefer didn't find us. We'd like a degree of control over who gets what and a modicum of firewalls to limit damage when one of the IDs get found out by the wrong people and has to be abandoned.

Re:Single person != single identity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30778516)

Is that why you, me, and him are the only 3 people not on Facebook? I mean, that the rest of the world does not "go" that way?

Re:Single person != single identity (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778370)

I do not want a single number, because I do not have a single identity.

I wonder why more techno-savvy people don't get this point. A computer doesn't have to have only one network address/interface, why should people?

Re:Single person != single identity (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778454)

Perhaps a Grand Central/Google Voice setup would be in order then. With Google Voice (previously Grand Central), I can give everyone a phone number and it will ring all of my phones. However, I can also specify some rules. For example, if someone from my work calls me on my Google Voice number, I can have it only ring my work phone and cell phone and not my wife's cell phone or my home phone. If I call the Google Voice number, it will call my wife's cell and our home phone, not my cell or work phone. So you can give your work and personal contacts the same number and what phone(s) it rings would depend on who is calling you.

Re:Single person != single identity (3, Funny)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778792)

I do not want a single number, because I do not have a single identity.

Exactly. At home, I am a cop. In an internet chat room, I am a 15 year old girl who's parents have gone away for the weekend.

Oh joy, another Universal ID (2, Insightful)

wiredog (43288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777898)

that corporations, governments, and scammers, can use to track us.

Obsolete (1)

jmyers (208878) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777924)

Easy to remember numbers or email addresses or anything else are obsolete. Everyone uses an address book built into the phone or other device and never has to remember anything other than your name or what ever they filed it under. People almost never exchange email addresses or phone numbers. You send someone as email so they have your address. They add your phone number from caller id to their address book.

Re:Obsolete (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778096)

On the internet are going back to the "Welsh" system of naming people. In Wales there were a lot of isolated villages with only a few surnames, so people would be referred to by their occupation or a ditinguishing feature, like "Dai Station" or "Dai baker". There are people I know on the internet as "John the Buddhist", "Ausy Mark" and so on.

Not only do we have directories but they all have personalised names!

Not good enough (2, Funny)

rennerik (1256370) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777932)

Pfft, phone numbers. That's so 19th century. They really should come up with something a lot more modern. Ahhh yes, I can see it now:

"Oh my number? Sure, no problem. Do you have a pen? Here we go: f3a9d4c1-0bff-4792-bf3b-09513ef61af8. It forwards to my home, though, so don't call too late. You can also use it to text me, or IM me. Looking forward to hearing from you!"

I am not a number! I am a free man! (2, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777956)

How the hell did this thread go so long without a Prisoner reference?

Re:I am not a number! I am a free man! (1)

nickmclean (1038902) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778152)

I am not A number, I'm a whole bunch of numbers, all of which I shouldn't write down...

Re:I am not a number! I am a free man! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30778374)

Or paranoid number of the beast reference?

Re:I am not a number! I am a free man! (2, Informative)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778816)

No no no, Paranoid was Black Sabbath. Number of the Beast was Iron Maiden. Totally different...

Re:I am not a number! I am a free man! (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778832)

Number 2 is still working out which number I am. He's been going for 4 minutes now. Needless to say "6" was taken by someone closer to the deal than me. I'll be lucky to get something close to my UID. More than likely it'll be something close to my MAC address mixed with the VIN on my car.

Digital stone age (3, Interesting)

TimeElf1 (781120) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777982)

So, instead of having a separate email, IM, facebook, phone number, etc we have one unique number? Great so if we forget our unique number we are totally screwed rather than just a little bit screwed. No thanks, if this is the future I'll just stay in the digital stone age.

Re:Digital stone age (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30778942)

... You've forgotten your phone number at some point in your life? And you call yourself a geek.

Reminds me of Compuserve almost 20 years ago (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 4 years ago | (#30777990)

Who could forget the PITA it was to transcribe someones compuserve number, so that they can send a email later?

Hell I forgot my Compuserve number...

It almost reminds me of the old telegraph days (My office used telegraph to send message to ships). I had a telegraph number and an answer back.

Re:Reminds me of Compuserve almost 20 years ago (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778822)

Who could forget the PITA it was to transcribe someones compuserve number, so that they can send a email later?

Or, the nightmare that was EasyLink.

I've been patient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30778012)

Great stuff. I've been waiting for years.

Numbers? That's what URLs are for! (2, Insightful)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778032)

We should rather use DNS for phone numbers, and then allow something like:
phone:cowboyneal@slashdot.org
Similar to “mailto:”.
Or one of
^(phone|voip):(//)?(cowboyneal@slashdot\.org|slashdot\.org/~cowboyneal/?)$

By the way: Why are URLs (URIs) so inconsistent?
I guess the voip and @ version is the cleanest one. But I’m not sure about the point of the “//”.

Enum: why you want it (2, Informative)

Raindeer (104129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778044)

I'm the author of the piece. Most comments in my opinion make the mistake of saying: I want this or that to be my identifier. Or I don't want a universal identifier.

The reality is: there are two identifiers that are on most business cards. Phone numbers and e-mail adresses. Both could be used in a much more advanced way. No matter which way you look at it the telephone number won't go away. ENUM would enable you to use it in multiple ways.

Re:Enum: why you want it (1)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778410)

No matter which way you look at it the telephone number won't go away.

No matter which way you look at it, the horse and buggy won't go away.

Re:Enum: why you want it (1)

jpyeck (1368075) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778922)

No matter which way you look at it the telephone number won't go away.

No matter which way you look at it, the horse and buggy won't go away.

And, in many areas in the world, including places in the industrialized world (driven through Amish country lately?), they haven't!

Re:Enum: why you want it (2, Insightful)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778712)

My email and my phone number are the two things in my life that are constantly subject to abuse by outsiders. (Spammers, telemarketers etc.) You have not made a convincing case why it's actually a good idea to extend merger them or to other aspects of my life.

The simple guide to make money online (2, Insightful)

eugene2k (1213062) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778046)

1. Join an adult affiliate network and choose a website for promotion

2.
for (enum=0;enum=OVER9000;enum++)
{
SendMessageToEnum(enum,"Hi! Check out my new website: www.chickswithdicks.com");
}

3. ???

4. PROFIT!

I like moving and losing .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30778048)

I like moving and losing a few "friends" who aren't really my friend. I suspect a few of them are happy when I relocate as well.

I have google voice and much of this is possible already. Fortunately, I don't use the other google contact stuff at all, so feel free to spam away. The IM and email addresses that I really use are not for public consumption or easy guessing, thank you very much.

If you've ever been bothered by bill collectors (who had the wrong number), image what this would be like if they got your 1-contact and began harassing you in error. No thanks.

If you've ever been bothered by overseas phone callers try to solicit purchases or charity or whatever, there's no legal way to stop that either. No thanks.

I don't need even more ways for people I don't know to contact me. What this idea thought up by a teenager?

Re:I like moving and losing .... (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778178)

I like moving and losing a few "friends" who aren't really my friend. I suspect a few of them are happy when I relocate as well.

Is that you Osama?

What we really want though (2, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778134)

What we really want though is not "one number", but "one use numbers", the same as Gishpuppy [gishpuppy.com] email addresses. That way you can leave your number with the girl in the bar, and when she decides that you were some annoying nerd and gets her brother to write it up in the men's loo you can just cancel it.

I would really not want to have one number misused that would also give my email address, skype, google chat and website to everyone!

Vanity numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30778162)

Hey! This way we can encode our IM nicks into numbers, so we don't need to remember the difficult number.

Isn't this backwards? (2, Interesting)

MattRog (527508) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778164)

Why, in this day and age, are we talking about NUMBERS? Do we address websites via IP address? No, we have DNS.

Why isn't there a DNS for phones? I pick a name, perhaps even something as simple and unique as MY EMAIL ADDRESS, and then anyone who knows my email address can contact me. Or, just like DNS, I can set up any number of unique names for various things (my-recruiters@gmail;) that point to some sort of numeric based phone.

You could even call it Phone Name System.

End Times (3, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778322)

I can't believe nobody's figured out that ENUM is simply the Mark of the Beast and is going to be burned into chips that will implanted in our brainstems.

ENUM spelled backwards is MUNE and it's on the MUNE that they have the secret military bases where they're going to send those of us that won't use our ENUMs.

The only thing that can save us now is when the prophesied "Woman of the North" comes down from Alaska to use her secret mental powers to organize the Wolverines(!) so we can defeat the forces of ZOG and usher in the return of Jesus and Ronald Wilson Reagan where they will reign together for 1000 years.

Don't you guys read your bibles and World Net Daily? megamerican, where are you when we really need you?

Good idea...i think (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778456)

Seriously, I do see the advantage...of which your universal number could also become your ssn, and tie into your phone number and drivers license, even your passport, then again why stop there, you could have it easily accessible through a chip or a barcode tattoo...
wait a minute, i think i heard of this story before...link here [wikipedia.org]

Just say no (3, Insightful)

LiteralBoy (1520321) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778486)

I see nothing wrong with keeping email, IM, Facebook and whatever else separate from my phone number. Despite the conventional wisdom of this age, I have no desire to be "constantly connected" and reachable, much less have it all rolled into one convenient number. Besides the "one stop" hacking opportunity alluded to in someone else's comment above, it also strikes me as one more step towards a world of constant surveillance.

Danger of single numbers (5, Insightful)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778560)

A single number to identify people would be just as powerful as a SSN or driver's license number. It would make fraud so much easier. Eventually people would compile databases tying these IDs to SSNs and would distribute those online. Then we would start seeing advisories to keep your single contact number a secret!

On the positive side, perhaps this would help to convince financial institutions that simply knowing someone's SSN and mother's maiden name doesn't prove anything about identity.

Bit of PC in the article (2, Funny)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778772)

"Using numbers made it easier to train people to operate the exchanges. (Women were chosen because their voices worked better in exchanges.)"

No Women were used because the messenger boys they replaced were proto-hackers and kept doing nasty tricks to the customers.

old news (1)

fulldecent (598482) | more than 4 years ago | (#30778860)

This is already done. It's called an email address.

Import your gmail contacts to find new friends on facebook. this concept is applied many ways.

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