A Name Identifier Summit in Massachusetts in November brought together representatives of a variety of organisations with an interest in assigning unique identifiers to individuals involved in research. The impetus for the meeting came from Thomson Reuters and the Nature Publishing Group and from a growing realisation among publishers that the problems associated with unambiguous identification of people cannot be solved by individual commercial entities.
The new initiative, ORCID (which is very hard to type without an H, I find!) stands for Open Researcher and Contributor ID. The plan is to set up an independent, not-for-profit, organisation to oversee the development of a prototype system. This will be based on the ResearcherID technology and data that are going to be donated to the cause by Thomson Reuters. There is more information on the ORCID website (currently hosted by Thomson Reuters, but due to move to a separate domain shortly).
The Names project and the British Library are represented in the membership of this group and look forward to co-operating with the initiative in the coming months.