An ARI is intended to bring real trust to the internet and web. It stands for archetypal resource identifier. The ARI is the principal identifier of a resource or link on the Epiarc. It is quite simply a natural name for something — with some extra features.
In a world where trust is rooted in the URL or URI, the ARI is designed to be human-friendly, front and centre at the user experience. ARIs bring the names we use in the real world into the web.
The ARI represents the most common and most appropriate name for a resource like a webpage or website. ARIs are case-insensitive and represent the names people use every day.
ARIs work by employing contexts. Contexts that we use in daily life without realising. There are global contexts where an ARI is globally unique, and there can be contexts for your country, town, company, team, or just you, where an ARI is unique for your context. ARIs can raise to the top of contexts and become global by being significant, popular and trusted by the global community.
For example, with the BBC: its canonical URL is
"https://bbc.co.uk" and its ARI in a global context is “bbc”. With BBC News: its canonical URL is
"https://bbc.co.uk/news" and its global ARI is “bbc news” or “bbc/news” because ARIs can be scoped to their parent ARI. Our ARI for this article is “launch / what is an ari”. It could emerge over time that this article’s global ARI is “what is an ari”.
The ARI may have a URI via a link.
The ARI may be hierarchical, so that producers can organise their links underneath another link. This is supported by concatenating a parent ARI and a child ARI with the forward slash character:
[Parent ARI]/[Child ARI].
ARIs exist on the Epiarc, the network of contexts and networks, running on the web. It is a layer of abstraction over links and web technology. Anyone can publish a linkbase with the links they use and trust, each corresponding to the name they use. Others can subscribe to linkbases and contexts, choosing people and organisations they know and trust, creating networks of linkbases and their connections. It is expected that organisations will publish linkbases. Epi offers customers a global linkbase through their platform to launch and trust the web.
An ARI can also be referred to as an “arcname” or simply “name”, because this is their foundation.
ARIs make names links. ARIs make names clickable.
People use ARIs without hard work, without needing to think, without needing to find the URL. Writers can focus on writing. Designers can continue designing. Marketers can stay on the message. People communicating can refer to brands as they do in regular speech, and the ARIs they naturally use are launchable. ARIs can be transformed from plain and rich text articles by comparing against a linkbase.
The ARI is:
A good ARI is also memorable, obvious, and concise - but not so compressed that it invents a new naming scheme.
The ARI does not need a formal structure when spoken aloud. Computers can serialise an ARI and link in many formats.
URL stands for uniform resource locator. URI stands for uniform resource identifier.
A URL is used for webpages and websites to uniquely identify them across the web. They are rooted in the domain name, a label that anyone can register for their presence on the internet.
URIs are a superset of URLs. Every URL is a URI but not every URI is a URL. A URI is used for webpages, websites and more abstract resources that can be identified and don’t have to be retrievable. The Eiffel Tower might have a URI to represent it but cannot have a real-world URL; it has a URL for its official website, not itself.
In common parlance, people tend to favour the term “URL” rather than “URI”, but often use the terms “address” or “link”.
With the astronomic rise and continuing expansion of the web, URLs are creaking as a usable identifier and locator.
The right of first registration of a domain name means that the first party to register a domain gets to retain their digital real estate as long as they continue to renew it. Domain names and URLs don’t necessarily represent the brands and names that are common in daily life. There are trademark dispute procedures that can be used to obtain a domain that is being misused by a party but it requires that your trademark was filed first and is in active use, and these procedures are not guaranteed to grant a domain. The domain marketplace is a hive of activity and exchange so if a party wishes to buy a domain it is possible to make offers, and highly prized domains sell for huge sums.
The domain name space is highly congested. Many one-word and two-word
.com domains have been taken and are only available in the aftermarket, where the seller can charge what they like. ICANN introduced new global TLDs (domain extensions) but these are filling up too.
With the domain name system rapidly filling up, it is increasingly difficult for a new brand to register an appropriate domain that they can use for their URL. Take the URL for Metro Bank in the UK —
"https://www·metrobankonline·co·uk"; it is not
"https://www·metrobank·co·uk". Metro Bank states this matter is an operational risk in their 2016 PLC prospectus:
Metro Bank does not control certain internet domain names similar to its own.
Metro Bank owns and uses the domain “metrobankonline.co.uk”. Metro Bank purchased the registered trademark “Metrobank” from an individual who also owns the internet domain
"www·metrobank·co·uk"(which was not acquired by Metro Bank). When Metro Bank bought the registered trademark, it entered into an agreement that provided Metro Bank would not attempt to use its rights in the registered trademark to gain control of the internet domain. As a result, Metro Bank cannot control who might purchase the domain or the purpose for which it might be used. In addition, the domain
"metrobank·com"belongs to a third party and is used to provide links to a variety of financial and diverse services and offerings in the Philippines. Metro Bank’s inability to control these domains, or others with similar names to that of its own, could have a material adverse effect on Metro Bank’s reputation, business, financial condition and results of operations.
Users don’t and can’t read URLs. Not reliably and not consistently. It is hard to know what is an official and authentic URL just by looking at it, especially if it is the first time seeing the URL. How is a user that receives a potential email from
"metrobank·co·uk" meant to know this is not their official domain, because it looks authentic and features the brand prominently — a user might think they, a large high street bank, now use this domain. The task is made harder by IDN homograph attacks.
With domain owners controlling the market, rather than real-world market consumption and demand, and as opposed to what people know, use and trust, it makes it hard for individuals and business owners to choose a suitable brand name. Why should the domain name system determine the name of your business?
Phishing is the most common cyber attack and continues to rise in its prevalence as the web grows. Hackers impersonate legitimate brands via confusing URLs, similar websites, and convincing emails and messages. In this age of cybercrime, the URL is not suitable for human-friendly website identification, and does not work for trust.
Considering the issues with website identity today, the URL is not fit for purpose. Not with the scale of websites, users and phishing.
When seeing an ARI, the user can clearly read the brand name and see how it corresponds to the website. When users subscribe to linkbases and platforms they trust, they can operate in manageable contexts, and they will know they are on the official website for the desired company.
In respect to URIs and URLs for the real world, ARIs reflect the real world but don’t have to be retrievable on the web; they can be purely real world identifiers. This bridges the gap between URLs and URIs.