Friday, September 3, 2010


The paper, A Data-Oriented (and Beyond) Network Architecture, proposes to replace well known internet names, like, with long names which are not human readable. As a newbie to this field I appreciate the paper for the exposure it provides to related work. Routing by name and anycast seem to be important.

I'm sure there are a lot of things to learn from this work. However, my gut reaction is that the idea of getting rid of human readable names will never ever work. Those names are too valuable. An internet name is essentially a brand. Brands can have a lot of value. This issue of internet naming is a financial issue, as well as a networking issue. Naming is also an important human computer interaction issue.

To me, naming is what abstracts the data from the specific host from which it may be obtained. When I type in a name, I expect a service, and I don't care which specific host provides it. I do expect the name to be persistent. And it generally is.

The new approach to naming proposed in this paper is intended to improve persistence of names for data or services. It seems to me that the proposed changes to naming may actually make names less persistent than they are today. The new names are associated with public-private key pairs. This means that if the key changes, then the name is no longer valid.

1 comment:

  1. One of the things I think you missed from this paper is that Internet _routing_ will be done in terms of these new, large, flat names, rather than using IP addresses. But there will still be services that map from human-understandable names to the DONA names. In section 2.2 the authors write:

    "For instance, one usage question is: how will users learn these flat, long, and user-unfriendly names? We expect that users will learn these flat names through a variety of external mechanisms that the user trusts (to varying degrees), such as search engines, private
    communication, recommender services, and the like. Users won’t, of course, remember the flat names directly, but will have their own private namespace of human-readable names, which map onto these global and flat names (as in [14]). While such flat names are harder to use than today’s DNS names, they offer the advantage that the mappings between private human-readable names and flat names will be free to reflect evolving social structures rather than being tied, as DNS names are, to a fixed administrative structure."

    So you might subscribe to a DNS service that will re-map it onto familiar names ( but someone else might subscribe to a service that lets him map keywords or phrases (Google, John's home page) to sites. The key here is that there can be _many_ naming systems, rather than just one. Maybe these would be distinguished with naming spaces, e.g.:
    Person:Kevin Cook