Ed Hasbrouck takes on the International Standard Name Identifier and asks some good questions about data sources, data quality, data retention laws, and transparency. Apparently they’ve been assigning numbers — 6.4 million so far — to authors based on a fairly opaque and seemingly unreliable system. Why? The motives may be good:
The mission of the ISNI International Authority (ISNI-IA) is to assign to the public name(s) of a researcher, inventor, writer, artist, performer, publisher, etc. a persistent unique identifying number in order to resolve the problem of name ambiguity in search and discovery; and diffuse each assigned ISNI across all repertoires in the global supply chain so that every published work can be unambiguously attributed to its creator wherever that work is described.
If you’re an author, you can look up to see if you have a number (or more than one?), via the ISNI search form.
Kidding aside, and even if the ISNI’s motives are good ones, if Hasbrouck’s facts are right (and my experience with Ed is that they usually are) then there are some flaws in the system — I wonder how (if?) the ISNI will respond.