Dan Connolly's tinkering lab notebook

Imagine there's no ICANN... with namecoin and cjdns

The Web and the Internet are, by design, decentralized. Noteable exceptions are the allocation of DNS and IP addresses, both administered by ICANN. By and large we ignore this wart in the architecture, but this week ICANN showed up in the headlines of the newspaper outside my hotel room:

Companies anted up $185,000 per domain to apply for naming rights. ... ICANN, which has received 1,930 applicants, will have to sort out whose claims are strongest.

— Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon seek domains from ICANN By Scott Martin, USA TODAY

That's a cool $350M. Is that a healthy direction for the cyber-real-estate market? It doesn't smell like it, to me.

Many of us have long accepted this wart in the architecture because we didn't see any alternatives.

Recently, I've seen some alternatives:

In place of centralized administration of domain names, namecoin:

  • distributed/decentralized
  • : each user has its own copy of the full database
  • secure
  • : security (with public/private keys) is deeply integrated in the software to allow only the owner of a name to modify it in the distributed database.
  • pseudonymous
  • : all transfers of data are public and linked to random generated addresses
  • open
  • : anybody can use namecoin to register a name or to create its own Namespace

And, with the tip of the hat to zooko 6 Jun, in place of centralized administration of IP addresses:

Imagine an Internet where every packet is cryptographically protected from source to destination against espionage and forgery, getting an IP address is as simple as generating a cryptographic key, core routers move data without a single memory look up, and denial of service is a term read about in history books. Finally, becoming an ISP is no longer confined to the mighty telecoms, anyone can do it by running some wires or turning on a wireless device.
This is the vision of cjdns.

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...

There are over  55,000 namecoin domains already.