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proposal for IANA/ICANN

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>From libes@cme.nist.gov  Tue Nov 10 17:49:40 1998
Date: Tue, 10 Nov 1998 20:49:31 -0500 (EST)
From: Don Libes <libes@cme.nist.gov>
To: comments@iana.org
Cc: iana@iana.org, dnspolicy@ntia.doc.gov, libes@cme.nist.gov
Subject: proposal for IANA/ICANN

I would like to bring to your attention the existence of a registry
service that may solve some of the problems currently facing

NICS is a name service currently run by NIST.  Before going any
further: no, NICS is not a replacement for DNS.

NICS, however, could be a replacement for some of the other domains
for which IANA has traditionally been responsible.  NICS was designed
to serve as a registry for domains in which there was no central
authority - or for domains in which the central authorities were too
expensive or their existence impeded development.  Given the
controvery over the future of IANA/ICANN, it is appropriate to raise
the awareness of NICS and its possible expanded use.

One of the NICS test cases was in fact the domain for Port Numbers,
which tracked those numbers maintained by IANA.  Other test cases
included Magic Numbers and File Extensions which have no analog at
IANA.  Not surprisingly, it is inconceivable that IANA would support
any domain for which people might have a need.  In contrast, NICS is
generic and automated, allowing the creation of any domain.  It is
also free.

NICS provides a number of other features:

* Domains may be populated in collaborative fashion.  Any party (user,
company, working group) may participate in population of a domain.

* Entries are allowed to conflict.  Temporary disagreements show where
attention of research should be focused. It is also possible that
conflicting identifiers may merely reflect the real world.  (Just
because IANA's registry exists doesn't mean it's not possible to
encounter port collisions.)  NICS can automatically contact parties
involved in registry collisions.

* Each entry is authenticated.  There is always a way to find out the
party responsible for an entry.  This is not the case with IANA's
current registry.  Responsibility for entries may be transferred.  For
example, upon standardization, a working group could give ownership to

* Comments may be attached to an entry, for example, to suggest better
names or identify potential conflicts. Public comments avoid multiple
parties redundantly contacting the original party.  (There is no way
to permanently comment on entries in IANA's registry except by methods
that are outside the registry, i.e., mail, Usenet postings.)

* Entries can be seen by others immediately.  There is no lag from the
time of submission to approval.  (In contrast, IANA never guaranteed
any turnaround time or, for that matter, approval at all.)

* Descriptions must include their status with respect to use and
standards.  Placeholder identifiers, deprecated identifiers, and other
non-official or de facto identifiers are encouraged if they clarify
knowledge needed by other users.

Summary: NICS is a name registry that avoids political issues by being
free and entirely user-driven.  NICS offers a more responsive
mechanism than traditional manual registries.  Plus, NICS offers many
desirable features appropriate to the very purpose of such registries.

NICS presently runs on a NIST web server.  It is entirely automated -
there are *no* staff involved.  Feedback is encouraged and the
potential for further NICS development is possible if appropriate.
(NIST would also be willing to turn NICS over to a neutral party if
NIST is not deemed neutral enough.)

There is a NICS FAQ at:  http://pitch.nist.gov/nics/faq-doc.html
The NICS home page is:   http://pitch.nist.gov/nics

It only takes 4 clicks to get from the home page to the "TCP Ports"
domain, but to avoid any confusion in initial navigation, here is a
URL that takes you directly to the TCP Ports:


For comparison, here is the domain for "magic numbers":


Note: The development of NICS was funded in part by a US Dept of
Commerce Pioneer Grant; however, there is no connection between NICS
and the Department of Commerce staff currently participating in the
IANA/ICANN reorganization.

If you have any comments including a suggestion on a more appropriate
place for this posting than comments@iana.org, please let me know.

Don Libes  <libes@nist.gov>

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