Domain names are, by policy, transferrable
We’re using the internet for a world-wide-conversation, and lately we’ve been wrapping a lot of communications in atoms of information we sometimes call “posts”. People pass around links to posts and sometimes copies of posts, and we have feeds full of posts, tweets and things included. It’s all good. Hopefully the posts have unique IDs so we don’t confuse them with one another and they can be cross-referenced. But what is that ID? How do we choose them? Usually today we use URLs. URLs are rooted in DNS names. Full rights to DNS names are reassignable according to the policy of ICANN. There’s currently no policy to say the future owners of a domain can’t reuse URLs for most anything they want. Whoops?
If we want our decentralized world-wide-conversation to work for a very long time, we need to consider strategies for keeping our post IDs unique. If we use URLs, do we care that a malicious future owner may in some ways “overwrite” our posts in history by issuing their own posts with the same ID? For that matter, are some gTLDs more stable roots than others for long-term ownership?
Would we be better off working with an ID namespace for posts that had an explicit policy for the persistence of identity uniqueness at least written down, if not enforceable by contract law? A new gTLD?
Here’s one idea that might get around all that. What if there was a giant P2P historical web that could be queried with a date and a URL (or any URI) and it did its best to return whatever post or resource was issued there at that time. Peers could make sure that posts they felt were important stayed in the archive by mirroring them, all regardless of where on the web the information was originally posted. A distributed file system of sorts.
Atomism and Holism
Of course, where we stop writing atomic posts and start communicating in high definition streams, it seems the persistence of ideas gets a lot harder, as one of the inspirations [scripting.com] for this #blogpostfriday post starts to get at.
What would Heraclitus say?
Drummond Reed. “The Persistence of Persistence” [www.equalsdrummond.name]
Bob Wyman. “The Persistence of Identity” [www.wyman.us]