Name ambiguity and attribution are persistent, critical problems imbedded in the scholarly research ecosystem. The ORCID Initiative represents a community effort to establish an open, independent registry that is adopted and embraced as the industry’s de facto standard. Our mission is to resolve the systemic name ambiguity, by means of assigning unique identifiers linkable to an individual's research output, to enhance the scientific discovery process and improve the efficiency of funding and collaboration.Overall, I think it is a good idea. If properly implemented and widely adopted, ORCID could help solve lots of issues associated with various ways of spelling a person's name due to, e.g., cultural differences. For example, put Chinese way, one's family name comes before one's given name, just the opposite of the western convention. Additionally, when a given name has two characters (quite common), there are could be a space or a hyphen (as I normally put in Xiang-Jun) or nothing in between. Combined with possible first name initials, there are already many ways to spell out a Chinese name.
The above Nature article, “Credit Where Credit is Due”, helps introduce the ORCID Initiative. As an specific example, it points to another article on page 843, where Nature profiles a research group trying to "complete the reference human genome sequence, which is still full of errors nearly a decade after the first draft was announced in 2000." Nature acknowledges that "It is essential work", "But it is also work that offers few academic rewards beyond the satisfaction of a job well done — it is unlikely to result in a high profile publication." Hopefully, by adopting the ORCID system, contributions of such types (e.g., software support and maintenance) would be more properly acknowledged by the scientific community.
Given the high profile of the founding parties, I am hopeful that the ORCID initiative would move forward as promised. I will keep an eye on it and see how it evolves.