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

Joe Abley jabley at ca.afilias.info
Sun Jun 29 18:14:58 UTC 2008

On 28 Jun 2008, at 22:31, Joe Greco wrote:

> 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".

About as much as I ought to be able to reach the Canadian army at  
army.mil, or the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration department at  

There is no single namespace that makes sense for everybody. For every  
single person who says "I ought to be able to do X to find Y" there  
will be someone else for whom Y would be a surprising result for X.

The boat sailed on enforcing regulations for appropriate registrations  
under particular TLDs long ago. I remember when registering a .NET  
name for a small, south-western Ontario ISP in about 1995 being told  
"sorry, that TLD is for ISPs only" and having to prove that I was, in  
fact, working for an ISP before I could get the delegation. Imagine  
that happening now?

The DNS had its origins in a desire to use names instead of addresses,  
because names are easier to remember. But really, the fact that naive  
users type raw URLs into browsers is an indication that we have more  
work to do, not that naive users will always need to be exposed to raw  
URLs. We are already at the point where a significant proportion of  
the Internet population types names into Google or Yahoo! or Microsoft  
Live Search, and never reference URLs in the raw unless they are  
accessed through bookmarks. An increasing number of people use  
Facebook more for e-mail than they use e-mail for e-mail. If this is a  
trend, then perhaps we can imagine the day where the average Internet  
user pays about as much attention to domain names as they do to IP  
addresses today.

All these conversations about what should or should not be possible in  
the namespace are pointless. The degrees of freedom are too enormous  
for any single person or organisation to be able to make even a  
vaguely accurate guess at what the stable state should be.

The only decision that is required is whether new generic top-level  
domains are desired. If not, do nothing. Otherwise, shake as much  
energy into the system as possible and sit back and let it find its  
own steady state.


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