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Internet National Domain Names Measurement

Dasha Barinova
Moscow State Institute of International Relations
Dasha Barinova
Moscow State Institute of International Relations
Open Panel

Abstract

The paper describes national domain names approach for learning about geopolitics, sovereignty and stateness in cyberspace. The author suggests that national domains measurement can be used to compare real and virtual political systems, and to explore the place of nation-states in the seemingly chaotic online world. Empirical analysis of 255 national domains data shows that cyberspace is characterized by uneven political statuses of countries and territories, partly reconstructing asymmetry of international political system of the real world, and partly altering its configuration. The author suggests to classify Internet name space asymmetry into external (based on comparison of domain names signifiers) and internal (based on comparison of the stateness of “virtual countries”) and provides a number of parameters to measure it. The paper also investigates pros and cons of national domains approach. The author advocates it as an effective tool for mapping cybergeographies, as well as a method that can be used both in comparative analysis, and in case study research. National domains data measurement provides means of doing a «fieldwork» on the Internet using online tools and network monitoring techniques to gather fine scale primary data, as opposed to relying on aggregate secondary data sources. The cons of the approach include: 1) distortion of data and risk of misinterpretation of the findings due to misuse (commercialization) of national domains; 2) need for systematic longterm monitoring due to rapidly evolving domain name system.