Challenge #5: Your Domain

2 Sep

I had a leg up on today’s set of School of Webcraft challenges, since I’d already chosen and registered a domain name. I did so by upgrading my existing WordPress blog and blindly choosing one of their suggested webhosts. I started a blog as a portfolio, a way for potential professional connections to see a little more about me. As such, it made sense to just register my full name. As the description for Challenge 5.b says “this approach may not be the most exciting method, but it is very versatile and to the point.”

At the time I didn’t really understand the difference between, say, upgrading my blog to a custom domain and registering a domain directly through GoDaddy or the like. If pressed, I might have likened my choice to renting a room that’s already been decorated: someone’s already figured out how to make it nice, and for a small fee I can call it my own. I thought registering through GoDaddy would give me an empty warehouse space, and I’d have to learn how to build walls, and plumb it, and paint and whatnot before I could get on to the important business of inviting people over– i.e. using my website to market myself as a young professional.

I still don’t understand all the implications of using a WordPress upgrade as a means of planting my flag in a chunk of cyberspace. I think I’ve found a small clue in the WordPress Domain Upgrade “Important Notes” section: I don’t have FTP access to your files. Could that be part of the mystery? Can I finish the next set of challenges with only a custom-domain blog, or will I have to do something more complicated? Do I “have a domain name that can be used to further explore DNS?” I’ll answer those questions soon, I’m sure.

For now, all I have to do is understand DNS.

Here’s the artifact of my DNS understanding:

Old Fashioned DNS

I really wanted to come up with an explanation that was human-scale and went a little further than the DNS = internet phonebook metaphor.  I thought about how I connect easy-to-remember names to hard-to-remember addresses. If I don’t have an address for a family member in my phone (my local cache), I call my mom, because even if she doesn’t have the address I’m looking for, she knows who does. Every family seems to have that one person who serves as an archive for contact information (and gossip!), in the same way that each domain has an authoritative name server.

DNS notes

There’s just something about writing things out, isn’t there?

I read up on DNS and related concepts on Wikipedia, and then Simple English Wikipedia, and then Wikipedia again. I also consulted this top search hit for “simple DNS explanation.” I drew myself some charts and practiced writing out some explanations. This is definitely the most in-depth learning I’ve done for the course so far, and thus the most shaky I’ve felt about my results, but also the most excited I’ve been about really learning new things.


One Response to “Challenge #5: Your Domain”

  1. Algot Runeman September 3, 2013 at 7:32 am #

    To do your creative, original web thing, you will need to get hosting that does provide FTP since the essence of web publishing is getting files, mainly html and css files, onto a server. The DNS really just puts the name on the site. It is the files which do the work.

    WordPress is a big template system which lets you work inside the structure of the themes you choose. It isn’t really a site built by you, in that sense. The words are yours, and you get to choose the theme, but the underlying code belongs to others.

    Sometimes people decide to do a subdomain for the blog. In your case that could be which would leave the root site available for your own coded site. Alternatively, some people build their WordPress into a folder of the site.

    Either way, you get to begin your coded site at the root DNS name. It will still be a good idea to use folders/directoriess for organizing the site as it develops.

    Enjoy the journey.

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