OpenAlias seeks to provide a way to simplify aliasing amidst a rapidly shifting technology climate. Users are trying to cross the bridge to private and cryptographically secure infrastructure and systems, but many of them have just barely started remembering the email addresses of their friends and family.
At its most basic, OpenAlias is a TXT DNS record on a FQDN (fully qualified domain name). By combining this with DNS-related technologies, we have created an aliasing standard that is extensible for developers, intuitive and familiar for users, and can interoperate with both centralized and decentralized domain systems.
How is this better
Typical aliasing systems are simple key-value stores. A cryptocurrency may, for instance, have an aliasing system that lets you (through the process of mining) declare that the alias Bob is equal to <95-character-string>. This has two major pitfalls for end-users. Firstly, it makes it the responsibility of that cryptocurrency to resolve issues or alias disputes. For instance, if a user loses their private keys and wants to continue using that nickname, there needs to be a mechanism in place for that. Otherwise, you end up with dead aliases, and users have the hassle of having to update everyone that they have a new alias. The second problem is that it doesn’t solve anything. Once the first few Bob-derived aliases are taken, users end up resorting to things like [email protected], which means that the end-user still has to have that written down in an address book somewhere.