What is the difference between "James Grimmelmann" and "@grimmelm" and why should we care? Some computer systems, like Facebook and credit reporting agencies, are inherently "about" people. Others are not. This essay argues that the key technical difference is whether they use unique identifiers to refer to people in their databases. From this single distinction, a host of social and humanistic consequences follow. The essay taxonomizes them and teases out some of their implications for privacy law.
James Grimmelmann. "First-Class Objects" Journal on Telecommunications and High Technology Law 9 (2011): 421-435.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/james_grimmelmann/38