Re: Break it all
"I have to wonder whether we really need whois anymore. Does anyone still use it to contact people?"
Yes, they do, and yes, we need it.
In many cases the only publicly obvious way to get in touch with the technical IT people is the contact in the domain records.
In our case, people contact us all the time. We run quite a few internet facing services, over a few dozen domains. In one or two cases we can be identified by the domain name, and in a few more, by the site content. Other sites do not have obvious links back to us, and if they do, those will go to end-user departments who have no understanding of technical issues, nor do they know who in the organization could even determine if it is our issue or a red herring.
We get notifications of compromised systems (real or imagined), compromised accounts (real or imagined), legal issues with respect to site contents (RoI), reports of problems with the site, with mail systems, with DNS records, with network performance.
We are contacted about security certificate issues by end users, partner organizations, or vendors.
I've hosted our national police force, visiting to make inquiries on the behest of the US Secret Service... again found via DNS data. Until we trained them to call someone else here, there was a period when we got a call from one police force a week.
We also get calls from the IT departments of similar organizations around the world, asking about various technical solutions and products we use or have evaluated.
We use whois to find technical people who can resolve our issues with accessing external sites and services from our networks or systems.
I'm sure there is more, but you should be getting the picture. The DNS contacts are the only more or less universally available contacts for systems on the Internet, and easily the most reliable such source, as well as the route most likely to put you in contact with a fairly experienced and technical individual.