A thinglink identifier is based on the idea that many of the things we use in our daily life are quite particular. Perhaps we know their origin (who has made them, when and how) and something about their history or previous use (like with furniture and cars). Some things have more meaning to us than others.
Thinglinks are unique, 8-digit identifiers that anybody can use for connecting physical or virtual objects to any online information about them. A thinglink on an object is an indication that there is some information about the object onlineâ€”perhaps a blog post, some flickr photos, a manufacturerâ€™s website, a wikipedia article, or just some quick comments on a discussion site.
The purpose of the thinglink.org is to offer an easy way to learn about products and artifacts in their various contexts of production and use. Small-scale producers such as artists, designers, and crafters can use thinglinks to bring their products to the emerging recommendation-based market in the Internet.
Here’s the thing about the thing â€” it might be useful to think of such a thinglink as something beyond an 8-digit “index” to some more semantic meat that is located elsewhere. I think something innovative happens when the object itself contains such semantic data about itself, its history, what it has done, gathered, accreted over its lifecycle. So, the objects are less inert than the objects we’re used to now. You don’t have to find the 8-digit id for your lost shoes and then Google them; you Google your environment with your spime wand. And we’ll need more than 8-digits â€” we’ll need a rich mechanism for folksonomic tagging of objects, so that when we walk by something we want, or need, or like, we’ll find out about it without too much hassle. SImilar to the NetMagnet idea worked on at Eyebeam Atelier a couple of years ago.