[ih] Funny how things work out

Jack Haverty jack at 3kitty.org
Mon Feb 1 12:55:42 PST 2021

Hi Dave,

I agree that the DNS was never intended as a searching mechanism.  It
has always done "lookup", converting strings into IP addresses.  

That's a view from the Technology side.  I was thinking as an end User,
where the History of the Internet looks somewhat different.

>From the User side, DNS also, at first, provided two other mechanisms
useful for Users - Delegation and Organization.  Delegation solved Jon's
problem, spreading out the work for managing the namespace to multiple
people and organizations.  Organization provided a means of structuring
the namespace so that it made some sense to Users.

As a User, I knew that a school site likely ended in .edu, a company
site in .com, a US government site in .gov, etc.  So instead of
"searching", a User knowing that old simple DNS organization of the name
space could guess that MIT was mit.edu, UCLA was ucla.edu, yahoo was
yahoo.com, Social Security was ssa.gov, etc.   Names were predictable,
guessing was reliable enough.

That organizational structure broke as the Internet grew, and name
collisions became common (like my examples).  The growth worldwide made
the US-centric domain choices less palatable, and the explosion of TLDs
has made it almost impossible to understand or remember the structure of
the namespace or the "name" of a particular site.   Guessing and
predicting has become much less successful for the Users, and
remembering, even short-term, almost impossible.

So, IMHO, DNS still does an admirable job of maintaining and operating a
distributed database translating between "names" and "addresses", and
provides the mechanisms needed for delegation.  But its utility to Users
has decayed over time as the Internet grew.  It's now a mechanism for
translating between two obscure (to Users) character strings, one of
which (IP addresses) they rarely see.   DNS mechanisms are still an
important part of the internal machinery of the 'net, but DNS names seem
no longer very relevant as part of the "Internet UI".   Names are just
an arbitrary stringofcharacters that you have little need to remember or

Since Marketing cares mostly about Customers (Users), that's what leads
me to wonder when the marketing forces will recognize that paying lots
of money to "protect the brand" in the DNS namespace is still worthwhile
-- except to the companies charging for the naming rights.


On 2/1/21 10:58 AM, Dave Crocker wrote:
> On 2/1/2021 10:30 AM, Jack Haverty via Internet-history wrote:
>> Fast forward to today, and I no longer have a clue what name to use to
>> find what I want online, and the proliferation of TLDs and explosion of
>> names isn't helping.
>> I'm wondering if, from the Users' perspective, the DNS mechanisms have
>> simply become unusable and irrelevant.
> The model you describe is for searching.  The DNS doesn't do that.  It
> does lookup. As already noted, there's a basic difference between
> being able to guess a string versus being able to remember a string. 
> There's also a difference between longer-term vs. shorter-term
> remembering.
> The mnemoics of domain names is useful for shorter-term remembering
> and sometimes useful for longer-term remembering.  Since it isn't
> intended for searching, there shouldn't be any surprise that it's
> terrible for that function.  Always has been.
>> So, as a user, I don't really care any more what the DNS "web address"
>> is, whether asiangarden.gv or 19876.weirdname.whatever.something.   I
>> never remember those, and never type them in anymore.
>> That's why I'm wondering if DNS and TLDs and all the name structure is
>> worth all the trouble anymore.  It's still useful as a level of
>> indirection to separate "names" from IP addresses that may change.   But
>> as a mnemonic for Users, it's devolved over time to become useless.  At
>> least for me...maybe other Users too?
>> I wonder when the "brand defenders" will realize this...funny how things
>> work out.
> What you describe has always been true.  The problem has been the
> re-application of long-standin (pre-digital) brand protection models
> to this very different world.
> d/

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