Web 'Handles' vs. Phone Numbers

Web 'Handles' vs. Phone Numbers

Forget phone numbers and email addresses; the era of the Internet "handle" is emerging.

Instead of having to remember someone's phone number or email address, in just a few years we might be able to find an individual over the Internet via his or her handle, or nickname.

This would be similar to the way handles are used in instant messaging or on Skype, except that the handle would apply to all modes of getting in touch.

"People will no longer seek each other's phone numbers or email address[es] when establishing personal or working relationships," wrote Gartner analyst Adib Ghubril in a report on mobile predictions for 2012 and beyond. "Instead, they will ask each other, 'What's your handle?' "

Handles could have a huge advantage, Ghubril said. They may remain unchanged for life, or at least for a long time.

To use the handle format, an individual would need a personal Web page that could be accessed via his or her handle. On that Web page, the user would store phone numbers and email addresses, making sure to keep them up to date.

Of course, such a system would require a new generation of contact-management applications designed to work in this way.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on

Read more about internet in Computerworld's Internet Topic Center.

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Tags internetGartnerskypehardware systemsWeb 2.0 and Web AppsEmerging Technologies

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