To get a deeper understanding of the exact nature of the issues involved in domain
trade and how it changes the internet I want, in the first place, to do more thorough
research. I think here of identifying the bigger domain squatters and what exactly
they own, the techniques that are used by squatters to generate money (i.e. just
aggressive pop-ups or offering fake-sites to seduce ignorant surfers to click)
and which strategies squatters use to add more domains to their virtual portfolio
(to establish which domain-names are interesting) and where they get them.
In this stage I want to create a series of static interactive maps from the research
data I found in stage 1. With static maps I mean that I enter the data of ownership
and/or use myself. In these maps the stress will be on relations of domain-ownership
and their actual influence on the landscape of the internet. I think here of maps
that visualize the “squatted” vs “real domains” in certain areas (i.e. 2 or 3
letter .com, .net and .org domains) and how domain names are used, for example
as “real use”, aggressive pop-ups or fake sites that look normal.
The visualization of these maps will be done in the abstract language used in
my earlier pieces like BGO MUI*5 or ZNC browser, where shapes, colors and sounds
have a clear relationship with underlying data. In the case of ZNC browser such
data was, for example, characters of an HTML page that were translated one by
one in ASCII numbers. These numbers were in turn used 1. to produce colors based
on the internal color palette of the Operating System and 2. to produce audio
tones to the exact height of the ASCII number.
In the case of DNvorscher I will set up maps that translate data into coloured
squares that are positioned in a certain way. For example in a map of domain ownership
(squatted vs "real" domains) the ownership data will be translated into squares
that differ in size depending on how much domains a company or individual owns.
The squares will be positioned on a map based on the physical server location
of the domain name (the location where the domain is hosted). In other words the
starting point is a blank map that has the measures of a world map on which smaller
and larger squares will be positioned according to their position on a real world
map. For example a domain name that is hosted on a server located in Amsterdam
(location: Latitude: 52.35 Longitude: 4.9) will show up as a square somewhere
a little bit above the middle. The color of the squares will be based on domain
ownership. Domains in the hands of larger squatters (so not in "real" use) will
be for example colored black, domains in real use will be white and green stands
for unregistered names.
The interactive part of the map exists of linking sounds to the squares. This
means that with a mouse-over a square it will make a sound: a dark loud noise
with a big black square (a series of domain names owned by a squatter) and a soft
sounding pure sinoid tone with a white one (= a domain name by an individual in
“real” use). Given the landscape the user will not only see the visualization
but can also interact with it in terms of sound.
In the final stage I want to research how I can make the static maps dynamic.
With this I mean that instead of using data that I gathered myself from the internet
and put in a program, I want to develop software that does this data gathering
and building the map by itself. For example in the case of domain ownership I
think of software that searches online in a whois database (domain ownership database)
for changes in ownership and directly updates the map when it is for example launched.
The program itself will contain a list of domain squatters so it can immediately
check if a name is still in “real” use or not. This list could in the future also
be updated when online. Of course the whois data can also be used for positioning
of the squares on the map because they contain the information of the physical
location of the server too.
Depending on the precise technical execution of the project the addition of a
programmer with specialized knowledge of online databases and scraping data from
them might be needed. I also think of 2 important functions of the software itself:
1. every time the map is opened it will remember the locations, colours and sizes
of the squares. This way, animations of the changes over time in the map can be
built, while at the same time the interactive elements (mouseover/ sound) can
still be used, so a new dynamic element of interactivity is added. 2. based on
past changes of the map the software could extrapolate how certain area of domainnames
might look in the future. Besides this extra functionality of animation in time
and the extrapolation function the look and feel of the dynamical “drawn” maps
will be the same as the static versions.