Levels of Abstraction

(or I never meta level I didn't like).

Doc Searls in his closing roundup at the Syndicate Conference has covered a lot of ground, touching on notions of identity, metaphors for the static web compared to the live web, the idea of value constellations.

It's good, thought-provoking stuff - as Doc's things generally are.

He threw out a rhetorical question at one point, discussing layers of abstraction and the meta-ness of things like the Web. The example he used was something like this (I'm paraphrasing):

The URL = an abstraction of...
The IP address = an abstraction of...
The MAC address.

His question was - what's the level above the URL? What's the next level of meta-ness or conceptual abstraction above the URL.

Struck me that in my case, and for many of us on the "Live Web", one candidate answer is: identity.

This is literally true in the case of my blog. The URL is michaelocc.com. "michaelocc" also tends to be the prefix of many of my email addresses, IM names and ways of identifying myself at various sites and services.

So the layer above the URL is me, in a real sense. If you stand on top of my URL and peer around, you'll get a good look at me.

Does that work as an answer? It feels right...