Kim H. Veltman

Internet Domain Names and Indexing

Unpublished. Ideas developed in Le nommage et indexage 2002


Once upon a time the question of domain names seemed simple. There was a small community and the remarkable Dr. Jon Postel had everything under control. Unfortunately Jon Postel did not live happily ever after. He died (16 November 1998) soon after the advent of the Internet Corporation on Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This paper reviews a) changes in the Internet over the past decade and b) the background of Domain Name Spaces (DNS); c) notes growing links between Internet and the methods of memory institutions (libraries, museums and archives) and d) suggests that these can be used to meet challenges facing the Internet.

The Internet began quite pragmatically, without carefully defined methods of naming and indexing. This made sense as long as it entailed a small group of researchers. But as the Internet potentially becomes our chief means of access to knowledge, its continued growth threatens to bring an exponential degree of chaos. This could well destroy the original dream for universal access, which originally inspired the Internet. The Internet needs a more logical naming structure.

To this end, reforms in the Top Level Domains (TLDs), Second Level Domains (SLDS) and Third Level Domains (3LDS) are suggested. The obvious advantage of such reforms is that professionals will be able to orientate themselves much more efficiently. Less obvious, but at least as important this will allow search engines, browsers and intelligent agents to search, pre-select and arrange materials more systematically for the inexperienced user. A further advantage to expert and novice alike will be a greater ability to identify authenticity and quality of sources. This will inspire the trust that is prerequisite for a healthy future of the Internet.

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