More than 6.5 million assignments of the ISO-certified naming standard International Standard Name Identifier, known as “ISNI“, are ensuring the right information gets connected with the right name. Published in early 2012, the standard applies a unique 16-digit code to public identities, providing a single identifier that can be leveraged across many applications, helping to sync alternate or disparate spellings of the same name, and eliminating confusion when names are alike. It’s been quickly accepted by information organizations, including Wikipedia. Bowker, an affiliated business of ProQuest and a registration agency for the standard, tracks assignments and usage of ISNIs.
“The rapid uptake reflects the standard’s ability to simplify the process of identification,” said Beat Barblan, Bowker’s Director of Identifier Services. “It’s a practical way to ensure accuracy when information organizations share information. With an ISNI, we know we are referring to the correct Joseph Stiglitz or Stephen King or Mark Wahlberg.”
The ISNI International Agency, a worldwide group of organizations that serve researchers, rights management organizations, authors, musicians, and other public contributors, created the standard to disambiguate names. The ISNI acts a link for the data about an identity and is used across all media industries. So, for example, information about Charles, Prince of Wales is distinct from information about Charles Prince, an author, or Prince Charles, an R&B artist, and the information attached to, say, “Tolstoy” is also attached to “Tolstoi.”
Once an ISNI is assigned by a registration agency, it is shared across the global digital information industry, enabling organizations to apply it to content by or about that party held in their databases. Users tapping into any of the organizations that use ISNIs will need only a name and just enough background data (such as a birth date or book title) to zero in on the correct identity. Then, the ISNI will take over, connecting all the appropriate public information. ISNIs are especially important for organizations administering rights, simplifying identification and administration of royalties.
Organizations and individuals can apply for an ISNI for any public identity — real or fictional — through a registration agency, such as Bowker.
To apply for ISNIs through Bowker or obtain more information, contact Beat Barblan, Director of Identifier Services, at email@example.com. Use ISNI’s free lookup interface at http://www.isni.org/search.