The Epiarc is a web consensus system for discovering how we name things.

It is made of:

  • ARIs that name things.
  • Linkbases hosted on the web.
  • User Agents that subscribe to linkbases.
  • Rules for ARI resolution that User Agents follow.
  • People - the ‘epiarchitects’ who build and use it.

The Epiarc is built on the web, which makes it:

  • Decentralised. Anyone can make a linkbase. Anyone can share a linkbase.
  • Emergent. Social dynamics and usage patterns emerge from the ground up. There is no central authority or master architect. In part this is because local names override global names.
  • Contextual. The Epiarc allows users to operate in their own context, in a way that is natural to them.
  • Fault tolerant. Linkbase representations can be cached in HTTP proxies at web scale.
  • Social. The Epiarc’s design encourages us to reuse names that others have already invented. We only have to override them if we need a different name.
  • Open. The Epiarc is an open, royalty-free concept and standard. Nobody needs to pay or ask permission to use it.

Private Epiarc networks may emerge in private networks with no internet access.

The Epiarc is intentionally built on the web to give it these properties — to make it an emergent naming system that people can use in a way that is natural to them. This something that its top-down predecessors like DNS cannot achieve due to their design.

The Epiarc is a both a network of networks and a social abstract concept, with many possible manifestations in the world.