Greetings. ICANN is preparing to inflict hundreds, and then thousands, of new top-level domains (TLDs) onto the global community of Internet users, which will serve mainly to sow confusion among consumers, and award vast monetary treasures to the tiny set of entities poised to rake in the dough as the masters of the existing domain name system (see: It's Time to Stop ICANN's Top-Level Domain (TLD) Lunacy!).
Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate is forging ahead -- despite the pleas of experts and major Internet firms -- with COICA legislation, that would leverage the domain name registration system into a tool for global Internet censorship.
An alternative Internet name to address mapping system -- fully distributed, open source, fault-tolerant, secure, flexible, and not subject to centralized constraints, meddling, and censorship -- will take significant time to develop, and a long transition period for deployment.
But I'd like to offer a modest suggestion to perhaps help start down this important path.
Please take a look at:
Or visit the alternate filename link for configurations behaving in complex or problematic ways in the presence of braces or capitalized filenames:
The five non-comment, non-blank lines in this file (domain name, name servers, contact address), represent the crucial data (other than more detailed contact information, which could be easily added) that anyone on the planet needs to locate my associated Internet servers. Virtually everyone with a Web site pays a domain name registrar -- year after year -- to maintain this sort of largely static information, while simultaneously enabling the associated registries as centralized points for controlling access to sites, shutting down sites, and perhaps very soon for broad site censorship regimes.
We can do much better -- and we should get started now. There are myriad issues involved, including some formidable "chicken and egg" dilemmas associated with site discoverability. Security, authentication, validation, and a wide range of policy concerns also come into play.
I believe that all of these issues and problems are capable of being worked and solved. The result could ultimately be an Internet naming/addressing ecosystem that will be far more extensible, egalitarian, economical, secure, and resistant to centralized pressures related both to site naming identifiers and the means of network address mapping.
So here's my specific suggestion. If you're so inclined, and you operate a Web site, please consider placing a publicly-readable plain text file at the root of your site, named:
containing the appropriate data for your site, modeled after my example file as noted above. Be sure to list your domain name, all name servers, and at least the technical contact email address.
Consider this as a first tiny step toward freeing your site from central control -- more a demonstration of potential interest than anything else at this stage, but still a potentially useful exercise.
I strongly recommend making this address info page discoverable by search engines. In my own case, I've created a visible, home page "Net Address Info" link to the file, but sitemaps and other mechanisms can also be used to assure that search engines will find your "Network Information" file. Try to keep the file updated with any changes to your name servers or associated data.
If you want to drop me a line via email when you create such a file for your site, that would be appreciated.
Just a tiny experimental step. Only the merest initial flicker against the darkness, as we try to make the Internet better for everyone, not only the privileged few.
After all, it's always darkest before the dawn. Even on the Internet.
Blog Update (November 30, 2010): Announcing Project IDONS: Internet Distributed Open Name System