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

Joe Greco jgreco at ns.sol.net
Sun Jun 29 02:31:33 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.

I never said it was.  I'm not arguing for me to be able to rename someone
else's business.

> 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.

I do not "consider its name to be" some random thing.  I consider it to be
what it calls itself.  There are already rules for that sort of thing
outside of the Internet, for example, I am not allowed to create a company
name that duplicates a company name that already exists.  The problem is
that while I can go and register a "Mycompany LLC" in Wisconsin and a
"Mycompany LLC" in Illinois, there is only one "mycompany.com" available,
though "mycompany.wi.us" and "mycompany.il.us" are both available and do
not collide.

> 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.

That's one hell of an if, and it doesn't seem to even be true.  If you read
805 and other foundation documents, it seems clear that the goal was to
*replace* a difficult-to-use mail relaying and routing scheme for mail
addresses with something that was easier for ... ah, yes, users to use.

> > 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.

That's not true.  Perhaps you should go read RFC1480.  (Before you make any
comments, you should be aware that I *have* read 1480, and that one of the
hosts used as an example in that document is currently running 50 feet away
from me).

For example, I *ought* to be able to find the Police Department for the City
of Milwaukee at something reasonable, such as "police.ci.milwaukee.wi.us".
If I then needed the police for Wauwatosa, "police.ci.wauwatosa.wi.us", or
for Waukesha, "police.ci.waukesha.wi.us".

1480 is about trying to provide localization services that could ultimately
result in a namespace containing vastly fewer collision issues.  But to
understand what I'm talking about, you really have to get rid of the ".com"
mentality first.

To extend that principle, companies that have an exclusively local presence
probably don't need to be occupying space in a TLD.  That's the Marty's
Pizza example.

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

Which are also generally slow-changing.

> > 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.

No, DNS is intended to map logical names, which are, among other things, 
supposed to be usable and useful to humans.  "[W]e wish to create 
consistent methods for referencing particular resources that are similar 
but scattered throughout the environment."  That 25-year old statement
is still a nice summary of the purpose of DNS.

The idea is that you can try for consistency, and where consistency is
reasonable and possible, some of us still believe that it could exist.

> 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
> email.

I don't see what you're saying as supporting ICANN's actions.  If DNS is
irrelevant for these purposes, then why bother "making a bad solution a bit
worse."  Just let it become, over the next 25 years, some mid-level
directory resource that users see less and less of, until it's almost as
irrelevant as IP address.

(*I* don't buy that, but then again, I'm making the argument that we've
really screwed up with DNS)

... JG
Joe Greco - sol.net Network Services - Milwaukee, WI - http://www.sol.net
"We call it the 'one bite at the apple' rule. Give me one chance [and] then I
won't contact you again." - Direct Marketing Ass'n position on e-mail spam(CNN)
With 24 million small businesses in the US alone, that's way too many apples.

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