The Domain Name System

Have you ever wondered how the domain names come to being?
Who is responsible for their creation and how does the ownership process happen? Hopefully this will help you understand:


DNS –  Domain Name System

A set of specialized servers that serve as a database,
connecting IP addresses with corresponding human readable domain names.

These servers are called Name Servers. Every domain consists of at least two parts:
the actual domain name and the TLD ( Top Level Domain).

For example, “.bz” is the TLD of Belize and the “domain” part is a domain name or domain label I chose for my site



Who assigns Domains?

The domain name registry is a database of all domain names and the associated registrant information in the top level domains of the Domain Name System (DNS).
Most registries operate on the top-level and second-level of the DNS. The registry maintains all administrative data of the domain and generates a zone file which contains the addresses of the name servers for each domain.

Each registry is an organization that manages the registration of domain names within the domains for which it is responsible, controls the policies of domain name allocation, and technically operates its domain. It may also fulfill the function of A domain name registrar, or may delegate that function to other entities.

Domain names are managed under a hierarchy headed by IANA  – the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, a department of ICANN, a non profit private American corporation, which oversees global IP address allocation, autonomous system number allocation, root zone management in the Domain Name System (DNS), media types, and other Internet Protocol-related symbols and numbers.


How do I apply to create my own top level domain?

Applying for a new TLD is not simple. It is a process that takes time and money.
Many of the new TLD’s were applied for by organizations like Donuts and also Google. It’s interesting to look at the top level domains applied for by Google, which can give us a sign of their future plans.

Donuts is a company that is focused on applying for new TLD’s and in a very meta way decided to apply for a .donuts TLD. Some of the applicants for TLDs have their application documented in a video, here is an example of an application for .BIBLE:



Using the command line to learn about the ownership of a domain

The command line allows us to access information about the entity that owns a domain name. With simple commands, we can learn about the person behind a url.


Open your terminal window and type in:

Whois ___________._______ (example: whois

For example, if you type in: whois you will get the information under which I registered my domain and my address at the time, which is not relevant anymore but it is still interesting to see how easy it is to access sensitive information such as phone number and apartment number with a simple command. A Whois lookup that gives you personal information about the owner is referred to as a Thick Lookup, where as a Thin Lookup is one where you can only get to information about the registry.


Whois and privacy

If we type in whois we see that the owner of the domain bought the right to privacy from the registry and their information is kept private.

Because all the data is there for the taking, spammers and marketers “mine” the whois database and harvest registrant data including addresses, fax numbers and email addresses. This is a real problem, and there have been very slow moving Whois database reform processes creeping through ICANN as well as CIRA in Canada.

WHOIS has generated policy issues in the United States federal government. As noted above, issues also tied to free speech and anonymity. However, WHOIS is an important tool for law enforcement officers investigating violations like spam and phishing to track down the holders of domain names. 

The Expert Working Group (EWG) of ICANN recommended in June 2013 that WHOIS should be scrapped. It recommends that WHOIS be replaced with a system that keeps information secret from most Internet users, and only discloses information for “permissible purposes.”
Although WHOIS has been a key tool of journalists in determining who was disseminating certain information on the Internet, the use of WHOIS by the free press is not included in ICANN’s proposed list of permissible purposes.

ICANN is now in the “process of re-inventing WHOIS,” working on “ICANN WHOIS Beta.”













Traceroute assignment: where is our porn?

For this assignment I used Aankit and Pedro’s tracejson to convert the txt output from the traceroute to json with lat + lon data.
I looked at several types of sites: pirate sites like and and also porn sites like pornhub.

It was interesting for me to trace either sites that are either illegal or hidden by most people.

Interesting finds:

1. Traceroute: Warning: has multiple addresses; using This is also true for .

2. When looking at the Geo location of some websites, last place we have info of is in Switzerland – 47.000,8.000 .




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Unidentified dead data analysis

For my social data analysis final,  I chose to try and understand the numbers in this database of unidentified dead.  There are 11715 open cases in the database and in order to represent the stories correctly in my project for the NFB. I logged in all the cases into a separate file and looked for the following things:

Which states have the most cases?

What is the change over the years? What years did it peak in?
What is the age, gender and state combinations that appear the most time in the data.

These are the combinations that repeat the most:

  • [‘CA’, ‘Male’, ‘White’, ’50’]
  • [‘CA’, ‘Male’, ‘White’, ’55’]
  • [‘CA’, ‘Male’, ‘White’, ’25’]
  •  [‘FL’, ‘Male’, ‘White’, ’50’]
  • [‘AZ’, ‘Male’, ‘Other’, ’55’]
  • [‘TX’, ‘Male’, ‘White’, ’50’]
  • [‘NY’, ‘Male’, ‘White’, ’55’]
  • [‘TX’, ‘Male’, ‘White’, ’25’]
  • [‘CA’, ‘Male’, ‘White’, ’40’]
  • [‘TX’, ‘Male’, ‘White’, ’55’]


The Museum of Stolen Art at ITP winter show

The Museum of Stolen Art from ziv schneider on Vimeo.

The Museum of Stolen Art is a virtual reality space displaying pieces reported stolen in FBI and Interpol art crime databases. The museum is an oculus rift experience where the viewer goes on an audio visual tour to see art whose location is unknown. Through that , the museum aims to grant these pieces visibility and perhaps even assist in their recovery.
Created at ITP for Cabinet of Wonder class guided by Nancy Hechinger.
Made with Unity.