Welcome to the Metadata Millennium: A Complete Overview of What Metadata Can Do for Publishers
A similar solution has emerged for the rest of us: ISNI, the International Standard Name Identifier. What an ISNI identifies is the "public identity" of an individual or organization. Through metadata (how else?) the ISNI system "knows" that "Mark Twain" and "Samuel Clemens" are the same guy (but they have separate ISNIs, because those are two separate "public identities"), that there are two different authors named Richard Holmes who are both historians writing on similar subjects (each with his own ISNI), and it knows nine different ways that Maj Sjowall's name is spelled (all of which will be associated with the others via the ISNI).