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Ye Olde DNS

I’ve been writing about the intrinsic problem with the use of the DNS as both a technical mechanism and as a source of unambiguous meaning and authority. The problems are much worse than most of the posters seem to note. The current approach assures that the Internet will unravel and worse, that URLs become perversely reused. The commercial terms of service associated with the use of “.com” names exacerbates the problem by imposing arbitrary social policies into the plumbing of the Internet.

A start of a solution is to carve out a non-semantic hierarchy—I’m calling it dotDNS which does nothing but map stable handles to zone files. This approach has the added benefit of allowing us to make the DNS far more effective.

In order to support a dynamic and mobile Internet we need to deprecate (to use an IETF term) the static IP address and use handles. The DNS is the appropriate mechanism for this. Confusing it with a directory service is at odds with this vital role and leaves us with only memories of the simple Internet that gave us the Web ten years ago. Yes ten years ago!

The most recent “dotDNS” essay is dotDNS.

By Bob Frankston, IEEE Fellow

Bob Frankston is best known for writing VisiCalc, the first electronic spreadsheet. While at Microsoft, he was instrumental in enabling home networking. Today, he is addressing the issues associated with coming to terms with a world being transformed by software.

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Comments

Mike O'Donnell  –  Aug 29, 2003 4:30 PM

Bob has hit an important nail right on the head. I strongly encourage everybody to read the clear pithy dotDNS essay.

We focus far too much on the particular bundle of functions in the current DNS. Those functions can be engineered better in separate systems—-one providing permanent meaningless and therefore uncontroversial references, and others provoding mnemonic and meaningful references.

I’ve been drafting some of the details, but read Bob Frankston’s article first. dot DNS is clearly in the “just do it” category. To just do it, we need a stable organization capable of supporting a the operation of a substantial top-level domain server, but with careful design we can avoid almost all of the adminstrative burden that weighs down ICANN and the registrars.

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