Back on April 3rd, 2009 I wrote a bit in my “blogspot” powered blog:
“I think it is time to blow the whole domain name thing wide open and start letting anything be a domain designation.”
So much time has gone by since I wrote that, the Blogger site I used has been dissolved and replaced by two other platforms. Technology can move very fast, and keeping up with what’s emerging and being able to discern whether or not it is actually, “what’s new” and not just something that is “trying to be what’s new and yet apt to fail” can be a full time job in itself <cough> “googlebuzz” </cough>.
That’s why I was so suprised to hear that ICANN will finally allow a greater influx if general top level domains.
This move (in my opinion) will likely provide — at bare minimum — an influx of more things that are “trying to be what’s new and yet apt to fail” and it’s likely to start with big brands butting their heads into where they shouldn’t be. In fact, that’s already the word. Brands are all set to swoop in with .coke or .nike but really, what’s the use? How will content on any page inside a .coke domain be any different from content at coke.com? What is it that general top level domains are supposed to communicate? Why should any of us care? In my opinion, we need to start leveraging this new allowance to build out functionality before brands, and that brands (rather than scurrying off to procure top level domains for themselves) should treat this as a banner moment to form new partnerships and, yes, earn more in the long run.
Back in 2009, my blog post also included this line: “Wouldn’t it be great if we could make our own domains, like ‘www.music.dougslivingroom’ or ‘www.photos.sausage’ or ‘www.sewing.help’ or some such? Find out how to fix what ails you by visiting ‘www.leg.pain.’ Let’s start to use the URL bar as a more direct search mechanism with some logical outcomes delivered. You get the point; by typing what you are looking for followed by dot hmm, (www.cookingpizza.hmm or www.toestuckinbathfaucet.hmm) you could easily get results that deliver solutions to your question in a more semantic way than trying to use a search engine.”
I stick by what wrote back then and feel it touches on an important part of where the web can go to be a better tool for all humankind.
The assumption at this point is that, now that they can, brands will swoop in and buy up (if only because they are the only one’s with that much cash to spare) top level domains for their nefarious marketing purposes and I can’t say that my expectations lead me to believe that anything different will happen. At near 200k dollars just to apply, I don’t see it being a budget priority for small businesses or non-profits, that’s for sure.
Likely there will be some variety and we are apt to see a number of corporate conglomerations and coalitions emerge, some of which could be beneficial (.rx for example if drug makers decide to form a coalition) and others not so much (like if the big beer brands form a group to create and maintain .beer, for example.)
Like I said, we have a golden opportunity at this moment to build a better web and a more semantic web, so let’s do that.
More from my blog post in 2009:
“What if we all started to communicate that way? What if machine language bled into human language so much that you could see or hear this kind of thing: ‘I was over in the lobby.bookstore and suddenly my finger.lefthand got stuck in something I thought was glue.sticky, but turned out to be a BOOGER.huge/juicy/~fromnose/ofclown.htm.'” Ok, so that may be a bit much even for me. But this is not the only aspect of machine language that is finding itself into at least the writter lexicon. Abbreviations like LMAO or OMG are essentially machine language tactics at efficiency and on Twitter, #hashtags help to organize thoughts, information, links, and resources everyday – and have even found their way into posts on Facebook, or other platforms that don’t even make functional use of the metadata tag in that way at all. #justsayin
Things are moving so fast we academics hardly have any time to do any real research and discovery on their impact. For example, another thing I wrote back in 2009 was:
“I think there is so much to this whole domain level thing and would love to do some serious research about it. For example, are people judging source credibility differently based on domain name? What is the perception? Would people respond to semantic general domain designations with understanding?”
I never got the chance to do that research. Though there may have been someone who did, likely if it wasn’t tied directly to somebody’s successful ROI data report, it didn’t get much play. This move by ICANN may create a window for new brand driven rules to organizing the web that may not serve the greater good of efficient and logical information access, but rather simply clutter the landscape with more attempts at being the “next big way to flaunt your advertizing budget prowess” and therefore create more chaos by making folks have to spend more time discerning and finding value on the web and not less as it should be.
Otherwise we’re just going to end up with a bunch of links that look like this: