what problem are we solving? (was Re: ICANN opens up Pandora'sBox of

David Schwartz davids at webmaster.com
Sat Jun 28 19:52:14 UTC 2008

> Yes.  It completely marginalizes the remaining positive qualities of the
> Domain Name System as a way to find things, in the name of giving people
> "more options."

That never existed and never made any sense. DNS is a naming scheme.
Entities choose names that are expressive, not informative.

You may have a hard time remembering the name of the Chinese restaurant
around the corner from you because it's not named "The Chinese Restaurant
Around the Corner from Joe Greco", but naming businesses for your
convenience is just not reasonable. What's convenient for you is not what's
convenient for me.

You should name the restaurant, for your purposes, with a name that is
convenient for you. I'll do the same. If you and I have to exchange the name
of a place, we need to map our convenient names to a proper name. But we
don't normally have to use proper names, they're inconvenient.

These type of mappings have to be competitive because different people have
different requirements. If you want an easy way for you to find a company
based on what you consider its name to be, find one that works for you.

But DNS works differently, it maps *authoritative* names to businesses. It's
more like how you map a business name to the responsible entity when you
file a lawsuit. It has no business trying to be easy for humans to use and
understand if that compromises its use for its actual purpose.

> Let me start by saying that I believe that the trends in the DNS have been
> going the wrong way for well over a decade.  The insistence on the part of
> many that the namespace be flattened is just a poor choice.
> People are now
> used to trying "<foo>.com" to reach a company.  In some cases, this makes
> fair sense; I can see why "ibm.com" or "seagate.com" are that way, even
> though in some cases there are namespace collisions with other trademarks.
> In others, it's ridiculous - why the heck do I get someplace in California
> when I go to "martyspizza.com", rather than our local very excellent pizza
> place?  (sadly this example is less effective now, they managed to get
> "martyspizza.net" a few years back).

I agree. People should not do that. They should use some kind of mapping
service that works for the kinds of mappings they expect. DNS is not that
service, cannot be that service, and never will be that service.

DNS is a technical service to map slow-changing authoritative names to their
current numbers.

> We never had any business allowing small, local businesses to register in
> .com, or non-networking companies to register in .net, or
> non-organizations
> in .org...  but a whole generation of Internet "professionals"
> "knew better"
> and the end result at the end of the road is that DNS will end up being
> almost as useless as IPv4 numbers for identifying the more obscure bits of
> the Internet.

Which is fine since that's not what DNS is for.

DNS maps slow-changing authoritative names to fast-changing numbers.

I do agree that people do in practice use DNS this way. And I do agree that
making it work worse for them is not the best thing in the world. But making
a bad solution a bit worse is not a particularly big deal. People have
almost completely stopped even exchanging URLs with each other manually. The
exchange links specifically mapped through URL mapping services so that
they're easier to communicate, or they put a link on a web page or in an


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