Jim Nielsen’s Blog Verified ($10/year for the domain)
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The Best Time to Own a Domain Was 20 Years Ago; The Second Best Time Is Today

Mastodon has a verification system built on the humble rel=me which gained coverage on The Markup (found via adactio links). It allows you to verify that your Mastodon profile controls a particular domain (e.g. I have verified jim-nielsen.com, something nobody else in the world can claim to do without my consent). From the article:

The checkmark on a Mastodon account is only as credible as the website it references and the Mastodon server that displays the account.

I think rel=me is such a neat idea. It’s a very “webby” way of doing verification on the internet because it leverages bedrock internet technology (e.g. links) and institutions (e.g. domains and ICANN) to address the problem of identity verification (as opposed to, say, the shifting, fleeting policies of a for-profit corporation).

rel=me powerfully reinforces the importance and value of owning a domain in the digital age.

For example: imagine for a moment the value of google.com. What would that domain cost? People’s entire personal and professional lives — email, photos, calendar, documents, etc. — built up over years and years, solely accessible at that domain.

Now imagine someone who invested years of their life creating value for others and amassing a following on Twitter. They now face a dilemma: all that value lives at a URL they can’t control twitter.com/{username}. Even the word-of-mouth username is something they have zero control over.

However, if own your domain, create value there, and drive people to it, you’re paying ~$10 a year to build unbounded value over the years — value you control.

That is why owning a domain (and publishing your content there) is like planting a tree: it’s value that starts small and grows. The best time to own a domain and publish your content there was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.

This is the what I love about rel=me: it reinforces the value of owning a domain that people respect and trust because, through the years, it becomes a source of quality information. In an internet connected world, domains are a currency of value. Do you want to own your value, or let someone else own it?

[verification with rel=me] is based on a loose specification created by bloggers back in 2003 called Xhtml Friends Network. Just as with Mastodon, its intention is not to tell us “this account belongs to television host Stephen Fry” but rather “this Stephen Fry account was vouched for by stephenfry.com, the website.”

I love a technology like rel=me which pushes the idea of domain ownership into broader and broader spheres of society — “How do I get that nice little green checkmark on my profile?” It reinforces the value of owning your own domain (which you can verify elsewhere) and encourages citizens of the internet people to build value in their own little corners of the world wide web.

After all, domains are the OG handles of the internet: find me @jim-nielsen.com.

What domain do you want vouching for you?