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The central idea the we exploit in our system is simple: if physical objects can be given URLs, then we can apply web technologies to produce an information system for the physical world. Therefore we attempt to assign a URL to all physical entities, people, places, and things. The URL for a person maps to a resource for that person; such a resource may look like a web home page when rendered in a web browser, but the resource itself can be dynamic, mobile, persistent, or have other properties. The URL for a place maps to a resource that describes the place; place resources can act like containers or directories for other URLs in the same sense that place contain people, other places and things. Things can be electronic, like a printer, or passive like a painting.

For more information on the this idea, please read our paper “People Places and Things: Web Presence for the Real World”.

Many of our ideas would carry over if other kinds of pointers replace URLs and other kinds of systems replace the Web. However, to be a nomadic computing system we need the ability to simply access new resources and services we encounter when mobile. The web provides this feature; many other choices for pointers/systems do not. (An as yet unpublished paper by Kindberg and Fox defines physicality and ad-hoc support as key attributes of systems that support “ubiquitous computing”).