Fixing Typos by Web Users, Without Raising Hackles

Link: Fixing Typos by Web Users, Without Raising Hackles

"David Ulevitch is trying to turn two numbers into a multimillion-dollar business.

The numbers — each composed of a quartet of digits — are just two of the more than four billion unique identifiers, the street addresses of cyberspace, that permit computers and other electronic devices to find one another on the Internet.

With the cleverness of a Wall Street arbitrageur, Mr. Ulevitch…has figured out how to use the numbers to make a business out of the propensity of Web surfers to make simple typing errors."

Hmm, multimillion-dollar business, you say. I’m very interested in this; tell me more. Just a few digits, you say? Why, this sounds like the kind of business I could get behind. Why, I myself know several hundred digits by heart — surely a few of them could be used to create a multimillion-dollar business. And the great thing about numbers is: if you ever run out, there’s always more where those came from.

I am inspired to erect a thousand-foot-high bronze ziggurat and in it place a set of hand-carved stone tablets containing every news story that attempts to explain DNS to a nontechnical audience. There are few technical concepts that represent a bigger conceptual meat-grinder for the general-interest technology writer. The Times’ normally cogent John Markoff sticks his arm in it up to the elbow on this one, leaving even his technically adept users wondering: are the geniuses at OpenDNS cleverly making dot-com megabux on just two numbers, or four digits, or four billion numbers? (Here’s a hint for our less technically-inclined readers: if internet DNS only comprised of two numbers, the internet would be kinda small.)

Left unanswered is the very valid question of why OpenDNS isn’t just a reincarnation of RealNames, but never mind that. Let’s just take it on faith that these guys are geniuses and move on. After all: there’s lots o’ explainifyin’ to be done.

Markoff goes on to explain in more detail about the intricacies of DNS, but not before attritioning at least half of his readers on that downright painful lede. Mr. Markoff, we’ll be happy to construct a custom-fitted onyx sarcophogus in the Ziggurat of Bad DNS Stories especially for this story if you like.