In the next year or so there will be some interesting changes to the naming conventions in use on the World Wide Web (WWW or Web). Faced with conflicts and court challenges about duplicate names, the InterNIC or registering body is considering a proposal that will result in the first major expansion of address conventions in the 30-year history of the Internet. Addresses for the Web may soon have new endings or top-level domains (TLDs) such as firm and store.
Accordingly, there will be a bit of a learning curve. There may be websites rushing to re-register or be renamed and subsequently bookmarks will need to be changed around the world. Search engines may need to be modified to conduct more efficient hierarchical searches. There most certainly will be trademark and intellectual property issues.
From a records management perspective, I am curious as to how this latest proposal came into being. There was obviously much discussion and legal consultation. But who did the research into the type and intent of web-sites that resulted in the hierarchy now being considered? Who did the inventory and analysis, if you will? How many certified records managers or even records managers have been consulted as to the proposals now presumably before the Internet organizing bodies?
Is there enough room in the new structure? Is it intuitive? Are we solving a naming issue, a legal issue, or a capacity issue?
Let us look at the ever-changing organizational structure that manages the Internet.
At the top of the current hierarchy [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED] is a loose relationship between the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF - working on improvements to the Internet connection technologies) and the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG). These three bodies are under the auspices of the Internet Society (ISOC), which manages Internet standards, Internet architecture, harmonization of international work on Internet growth and development, collection of Internet information, and liaison work with other organizations.
With the rapid growth of the World Wide Web, there is also now a group known as W3C - the World Wide Web Consortium that is dedicated to the management of the Web and related activities.
There are several other prominent Internet organizations, such as the InterNIC, the body that administers the assignment and registration of Internet addresses and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) - controlling the various numbering schemes used throughout the Internet.
The IANA and W3C are studying the naming system in use throughout the World Wide Web, the Domain Name System. The Domain Name System was designed to help in locating machines on the Internet. It is actually a complex distributed database containing information about domains and host computers. But getting into a discussion of the domains, it is useful to review the WWW's physical structure.
PHYSICAL STRUCTURE OF THE WEB
The Web is a constantly changing construct but the included simplistic diagram shown in Figure 2 may help in our perception of the needs for uniform names, interconnected registries and rules.
There are at present nine Host Servers linked on the Internet that control the registries or names used on the Web. Each registry may be accessed by a number of name servers often owned by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or Internet Access Providers (IAPs). We must remember that to expedite access on the Web, the machines that make up the Internet perceive addresses in terms of numerical representations not alphabetical names.
The Internet, being global in nature, has settled on a large hierarchical series of numbers separated by (.) dots. Web transport or Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are therefore a 32-bit number usually represented as four numbers separated by dots, e.g., 18.104.22.168. …