Saturday, June 25 2011 @ 08:44 AM PDT
Contributed by: Richard Pitt
Take the fact that today our internet systems are largely "always on" and couple that with both the high speed of the net in general and the huge computing and storage ability of our computers, and contrast that with the technology in the era that the Domain Name System (DNS) grew up in; one of connect on demand, slow network and scarce/expensive local processing and storage and you come up with my premise that DNS has outlived its usefulness. Is there an alternative to the system that is a money-tree for ICANN and a lever against perceived badness by the US (at least) government (in siezing domain names) and a perceive threat to national sovereignty by most of the other countries of the world?
Maybe - in fact probably.
According to an item I read yesterday that was talking about ICANN's opening up the Top Level Domain (TLD) system to anything someone wants to pay huge amounts of money for, most people use a search engine to find a company's domain rather than trying the "obvious" domain names in hopes that they'll hit the right one. They no longer play the guessing game, they search instead. The point the article made is that all that this expansion of the TLD system does is put money into ICANN's pockets - it really does nothing to help you or me find the company, and does "tax" companies by making them protect their brands at huge expense; The CocaCola Company would have to register for the TLD "coke" to keep the Mafia or some other criminal drug cartel from registering it and using it to market the drug (trite example but you get the picture).
The other problem of course is that the net is now so ubitquitous and has been around long enough that DNS suffers from a couple of major pollutants that affect such "intuitive" stabs-in-the-dark:
- many companies, from different parts of the world, have the same or similar names - and all have tried to get into the Dot-COM root domain for historic reasons.
- purveyors of general nastyness love to register "near miss" domain names - mis-spellings, hyphenated, etc. - and load them with spam or malware or plain misinformation
The interesting thing is that, somehow, the search engines generally get us to the point where the company or product we seek is in the first page of (and most times the top line of) options they give us, no matter what the domain name really is. They do this using several techniques that they're constantly tuning:
- geographic profiling - both of you and of the various companies that might share similar names - so you'll find the "Joe's Cleaning" from your town and I'll find the one in mine.
- popularity and feedback profiling - sites that are the "correct one" where only one such site should exist (international brands such as Ford, Coke, etc.) get in-bound links from legitimate sites that are long-lasting and from otherwise generally well accepted sites - and people who click on the sites' links don't go back and search again.
So I asked myself, "why do we need the Domain Name System in general, and ICANN, the guardian of DNS top level domains, in particular?"
Is there some other way to do this that works as well or better, and does not subject us to the US FBI seizures and excess (IMHO) fees and charges of ICANN in particular and the Domain Registrars in general?
Just remember, DNS is simply a crutch to the human mind that does not deal well with simply remembering numbers. At heart, it simply translates the human readable (and rememberable) string to a set of unique numbers that describes a host to the technology you're using; www.digital-rag.com becomes 126.96.36.199