Tuesday, May 20, 2008

.tel and the meanings of TLDs

So we're working hard to release Yet Another top-level domain (TLD) to the world, named ".tel". I hear the moans already... Doesn't the world already have .com, .net, .us, .mobi, .name, .tv, etc... etc...? What's the point of having another one?

Well, .tel just isn't like the others. At all.

Up until .tel, all TLDs have been used to facilitate computer-to-computer communications. They are the user-friendly face of the DNS. Want to go hit google.com? Your browser will call your computer OS's networking library and ask "hey, can you tell me what is google.com"? Your OS will in turn communicate with a DNS server that's probably hosted at your internet provider's facility and ask it that same question. The DNS server will then look up the google.com zone and respond "hmmm... looks like google.com is actually the server" (you can try it yourself here). Once your browser gets that information back, it will then communicate directly with and request the main web page.

Yes I know all the above is the true idiot's idiot guide to how DNS works, but I don't know yet how knowledgeable my readership will be (if any). Anyway, long story short: every single TLD today is focused on facilitating computer-to-computer communications. All information in the DNS is about and for computers: which machines are mail servers, which ones handle the DNS itself, which machine names are actually aliases to other machine names, etc...

.tel on the other hand is about people-to-people communications inasmuch as communicating does still generally necessitate communications devices.

I showed you what happens when you ask for info about google.com (you can try again here). Well, let's see what happens when we ask for a certain type of info (NAPTR records, but I'll explain those later) about henri.tel (go ahead, click).
Interesting, isn't it? Instead of learning about the IP address of the machine that hosts the henri.tel website, you learn all sorts of interesting things about me, namely in this case my phone numbers, email addresses, IM handles, etc... Oh, there are also links to websites and to some of my subdomains, such as social.henri.tel.

1 comment:

Ellie said...

It's good to see some public discussion of dotTel technology straight from the horse's mouth.

Everyone I've ever explained the project to has either been completely sold (the non-technical people) or highly sceptical (the geeks). I side with the non-techies as this has potential to revolutionise how the internet will be used in coming years.

Really looking forward to you guys getting this out the door so that I can build applications which take advantage of the facilities it provides :)