You may or not know it, but the entire internet runs on numbers. This is appropriate, efficient, and expected… because, well, surprise, computers run on numbers.
Unfortunately, very few real-world humans run on numbers. Think about that for a second. If that’s all the information you had, how could you ever explain the amount of time people spend on computers? What could explain this ever-deepening relationship between number-loving computers and often-terrible-with-numbers people?
The answer is obvious and perfectly simple, the most beloved and most successful computing systems allow the numbers to be optional for the users. For instance, you probably use the internet everyday, but you have no need to remember the numeric IP addresses of each website that you visit. Sure, you can use the numbers if you wanted, but they are completely optional.
So, let’s face it, you’re better with words than numbers. (Either that, or you’re Vitalik Buterin.)
Knowing that you can remember words much more reliably than you can remember IP addresses, the designers of the internet developed a nice mapping system to make your time here on the internet easy and pleasant. You remember DuckDuckGo.com and a computer looks up the numbers it needs using a system called DNS. In computing, the mapping of a name to an underlying number is referred to as a namespace.
Integrating a namespace into the fabric of the web was awfully clever, wasn’t it? In fact, I’d argue that it wasn’t just clever. It was absolutely a prerequisite for the mainstream adoption and subsequent unstoppable spread of the modern internet.
Great, but how’s this relevant to you, here, right now… on a website about Ethereum? Wait for it…
Because the Ethereum platform has namespaces.
Meet the Ethereum Name Service, ENS. They facilitate mapping those long and impossible-to-remember Ethereum addresses to easily-memorable names. If you need to send money to a friend, a family member, or even Mr. GWei… isn’t it easier to remember CallMeGWei.eth than 0xFDE0D2A105227bF6A2b75d9BF285b958759A6190 ? Yeah, I thought so to.
Clever, isn’t it? Not just clever, but pivotal to the mainstream adoption of any smart-contract and cryptocurrency platform.
Ethereum has it, and it is already a part of the platform. It’s implemented with Ethereum contracts, of course, with decentralization and openness at the core of its design.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, no, Bitcoin does not offer namespaces nor anything comparable.