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.com, .org., .cat? Just what is up with all that?

| August 16, 2006 | Reply

Internet Domain Names Revealed:

I think we all know what “.com” is…. but I can remember a day, in a not to far, far, distant past when I was listening to a [tag]KDKA[/tag] talk show and someone was asking, “just where are all these .com stores I hear everybody talking about?”. It seems kind of funny now but most of us are not aware that there are, indeed, governing agencies of the internet and a whole lot of “dot” this and “dot” thats’ that we are not familiar with.

Two big “guns” of the internet policy world are [tag] ICANN [/tag]and [tag]IANA[/tag]. ICANN pronounced “I can” is an acronym for the “Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers”. ICANN was formed in 1998 in order to oversee management of internet related tasks that previously were performed directly by the U.S. government. IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) was developed by John Postel and was the precursor to ICANN and still deals with allocation of internet names and numbers.

The main task of ICANN is the managing and developing of domain names, IP addresses and the introduction of top-level domains ([tag]TLD[/tag]). Top level domains are the .com(s) the .org(s) and the .edu(s) of the internet world and what I want to focus on mostly in this article.

A domain name is actually to be read from the right to the left, at least if you are trying to figure out what the top level domain is. For example, www.jpisano.com- the “.com” is the highest or top-level of the domain name. Domain names (or web addresses) are actually resolved to IP numbers. When you enter www.jpisano.com into the URL (Universal or Uniform Resource Locater) or address bar of a web-browser a dynamic name server (DNS) is contacted and it turns the domain name into a set of IP (Internet Protocol) numbers. These numbers point to a host server or the directory on a host server where the web page your looking for resides. These servers are set to display the index.htm, home.htm or default.htm file to your web browser (iexplorer, opera, netscape, etc.) when you point to a directory on them. So whatever your index.htm page is… this is what is seen first when the website is brought up within the browser.

Some companies or organizations will purchase a common name and sell off [tag] sub-domains[/tag] within it. For instance, they might purchase the domain name “blogger.com”. Then they may sell off websites that are a sub-domain of blogger.com like “suziesmith.blogger.com” or “jackdonut.blogger.com” or “joebunda.blogger.com”, etc.

The most common [tag]top level domains[/tag] are referred to as generic or gTLD. These include:

.biz –intended for business. Created to relieve the plethora of .coms
.com- stands for COMmercial. The largest TLD in use
.edu- for EDUcational usages… Established in 1985
.gov- for GOVernment. used by the U.S.
.info- for INFOrmation. Supposed to be used for informational sites
.mil- for MILitary. used by the U.S. for use of the U.S. Dept. of Defense
.name- this TLD is supposed to be used by individuals
.net- for NETwork, initially intended to be used by network providers
.org- for ORGanization, popular for non-profits

Except for the .edu, .mil, and .gov you can actually use these TLDs for just about anything and for any purpose. A business does not have to own a .biz domain or a commercial company a .com.

In addition to the generic TLDs there are also “sponsored” TLDs. A sponsor is an organization which has some defined authority regarding the way in which a TLD is operated. These include:

.aero – members of the air-transport
.coop – cooperative associations
.museum – museums
.pro – credentialed professionals and related entities -
.travel – travel agents, airlines, hoteliers, tourism bureaus, etc.
.cat – Catalan language and culture
.jobs – employment-related sites
.mobi – mobile devices and services for them
.tel – internet-based voice/data/text communication

.cc codes or Country Codes:

These are used to designate specific countries, for instance .us is the United States.

Other examples:

· BB = Barbados
· BW = Botswana
· CZ = Czech Republic
· DE = Germany
· FI = Finland
· FR = France
· FX = France, Metropolitan
· GB = Great Britain (UK)
· GR = Greece
· IE = Ireland
· IT = Italy
· JP = Japan
· KW = Kuwait
· MX = Mexico
· PT = Portugal
· TR = Turkey
· VA = Vatican City State (Holy See)
· ZW = Zimbabwe

For an exhaustive list you can visit IANA here: http://www.iana.org/cctld/cctld-whois.htm

There are also some proposed and pending TLD names including:

.post- postal agencies
.xxx- adult oriented
.kids- for children

If you are looking to purchase a domain name for yourself or company, you first have to make sure it is available. Many companies such as www.godaddy.com or www.register.com can help you to determine if a domain name is available for your use and give you other ideas in the case that the one you want is taken.

Once you purchase a domain name they will register it with the proper authorities and now all you have to do is get a hosting account or host the site yourself. You will however have to have the root domain name servers point to your primary or secondary name servers so that people arrive at YOUR site and not someone else’s when they type in your domain name but, that’s a topic for another time…

For more information on registering a domain you can check out the [tag]InterNIC[/tag] site here: http://www.internic.net/faqs/domain-names.html

~jmp

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Category: General-Other

About the Author ()

Joseph M. Pisano, Ph.D. is the creator of many education websites, lecturer, clinician, trumpeter, and conductor. He is currently the Associate Chair of Music and Fine Arts at Grove City College, PA and the Vice President of TI:ME. He also writes for DCI Magazine, In-Tune Monthly and has contributed hundreds of articles to various publications. Find out more at his website jpisano.com.
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