If you've been following the new Top-Level Domain (TLD) process within ICANN over the last year or so you will have probably been aware of how slow and tortuous development has been. To recap, ICANN, which oversees domain names globally, announced that it was "opening up" the internet so that "anyone" could get the domain extension they wanted. Of course it's not really "everyone" and the process to date has been far from smooth.
ICANN's processes and policies work on the basis of reaching consensus, however that is easier said than done when the actors involved have such disparate views.
Fortunately for those wishing to apply when it all opens up (whenever that is), the ICANN board has come out in support of the latest compromise proposal - EOI. EOI, which is yet another "lovely" acronym to add to the collection, is short for Expression of Interest. The idea being that if people know who is planning on getting a new TLD then it will be much easier to address the issues that those potential TLDs present.
So at least on the ICANN side of things there is some progress. But what of the applicants themselves? You may remember a few months ago there being a debacle surrounding .food. Since then there have been several other minor controversies including one potential applicant for .sport wanting to block ALL sport related domain extensions ..
The latest battleground, however, may come as a surprise to many observers.
While there are many ICANN observers who may have thought that the "City TLDs”, such as .nyc, .paris, .london etc., were going to be less contentious, developments in the last couple of days may have changed that.
Minds and Machines have announced another new TLD project that they are backing - .berlin, under the banner of "Unite Berlin”. (I thought the wall fell 20 years ago, but what do I know?) While that may appear at first glance to be "non-news" a more keen observer may recall that there is a pre-existing .berlin initiative.
What makes it all the more interesting is that the pre-existing .berlin project has been around for the thick end of 6 years!
So what are Minds and Machines playing at?
Is this merely a push from their backers, Top Level Domain Holdings, or is it a project that is being actively backed by the city of Berlin?
While it's not clear from the new .berlin website who is actually supporting them at this juncture, one would have to assume that a company like Minds and Machines wouldn't launch a campaign for a new TLD "just for fun".
So why are they pursuing a TLD which has an existing well established initiative in place? Or are they seeking to take advantage of this in their bid?
Apparently the city of Berlin has not made any formal commitment or announcement to back anyone yet, so it remains to be seen how they intend to handle the management of .berlin. Without support from the city of Berlin, it is unclear that an applicant would have any chance of being awarded the opportunity to operate the TLD.
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Minds + Machines