Simon Willison’s Weblog

Democratised Namespaces

The New York Times: Get out of my Namespace (via Diego Doval)—a well-researched look at the huge problems (and frivolous lawsuits) being generated by the global quest for ownership of unique names.

Unsurprisingly, the fundamentally broken domain name system is a recurrent theme. I hadn’t heard about vs the Tata Group of India but it seems pretty indicative of the whole crazy situation. Fans of TypeKey take note: this is what you get when you build a centralised system in a decentralised world.

An interesting side effect of all of this is the role of Google’s PageRank algorithm in creating a democratised namespace. FireFox and Safari, the two browsers I use on a daily basis, both include a “search Google” box to the right of the standard URL bar. If I’m going to a site about a certain topic or person for the first time I will almost always enter the relevant terms in that box rather than trying to guess a domain. PageRank usually ensures that the first returned result is the definitive resource on the entered term—a democratic process, achieved by general consensus of the billions of pages that make up the web.

Of course, this also strengthens the whole URLs as identity idea, where you need a well ranked web presence (generally a weblog) to confirm your place in internet society. Owning your name on Google becomes more important than owning your name with ICANN.

This is Democratised Namespaces by Simon Willison, posted on 21st March 2004.

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