DNS is an acronym for Domain Name System. Now you know. But you can forget the long form…just remember DNS.

DNS is the quiet hero of the Internet. For nearly 20 years, since 1987, DNS has translated human-readable addresses into the numerical locations that computers demand. Easy-to-remember names (e.g., craigslist.org) become the numbers (e.g., that load the popular classifieds website.

The end result? The Internet works. Websites load, emails are delivered, and the world continues on its merry way.

Right now, no one cares that DNS is at the heart of all that activity. That’s OK for now. But DNS is a prospect to be the next acronym that matters.

Previous crossover acronyms

Tech is lousy with crossover acronyms: RAM, MB, GB, CPU, GHz, HTTP, and so on. But I’ll focus on two critical acronyms — HTML and RSS — which have crossed over, to a greater and lesser degree.

HTML — If you asked anyone who’s ever touched a computer what HTML is, I expect you’d hear that HTML has “something to do with how web pages are created.” Still, few outside the tech world would correct expand the acronym to HyperText Markup Language. And there’s nothing wrong with that gap in knowledge…a measure of HTML’s success is that the full label is irrelevant.

RSS — RSS is moving along that same adoption/understanding curve: a significant minority of the Internet population now understands the benefit RSS brings, whether they know that Really Simple Syndication is the leading meaning of the acronym. As a label, RSS has come to encompass even other formats (like Atom or RDF) which compete with RSS in delivering the same benefit. Rather than rename RSS, the supporters of syndication technologies should simply enjoy the acronym becoming the brand. RSS is not quite Kleenex™, but in this case, becoming a genericized trademark is a positive development.

Transition: from invisible to shorthand

Two decades after its introduction, DNS may be the next acronym which crosses over from the tech world to the entire world.

At OpenDNS, we’re convinced that the next big thing in the Internet is really a re-working of one of the oldest things in the Internet. Our success lies, in part, in explaining how OpenDNS improves DNS, which in so many ways has not advanced from its roots in the late 1980s. To be direct, using OpenDNS for your DNS service will speed up your Internet experience and help stop phishing attacks.

Back to the point about acronyms. It’s more difficult to explain the benefits you’ll get from our free DNS service if you don’t understand what DNS does for you today.

My mission is to speed DNS along the acronym trail, so DNS moves from invisible to shorthand for “what makes the Internet work.”

Some work to do… but remember, you heard it here first: DNS is the next acronym that matters.

P.S. If you do want more details on DNS, read what OpenDNS does, which has links to more details on DNS generically.
P.P.S. By the way, RSS stands for either Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary or…well, never mind. My favorite definition of RSS is:

Smart bookmarks that tell you when your favorite sites change. [diveintomark.org]

If you want to keep up with OpenDNS news and notes (like this one), I suggest you subscribe to the OpenDNS RSS feed.

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