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Bringing Order to The World's Cybrary: New TLDs Make Sense to Organize the Chaos of the Internet

Jennie-Marie Larsen

There has been considerable debate on whether the Internet needs new Top Level Domains. Advertising advocacy groups have objected to the expense of re-investment in online branding. There's a lot of work involved in telling the world .BEYONCE is where you will now find all official Beyonce related information.

I'm wondering, why would anyone object to some order being applied to the internet? It's the world's shared cyber library, our source for any and all information on every subject, limited only by our imaginations. It's our Cybrary, intended to serve the planet's need to serve and disseminate information of any kind, for infinity.

The IDC(who?) estimates 1.8 zettabytes (equal to a trillion gigabytes) of digital information will be created by consumers and companies this year alone. Given that isn't it logical, the internet needs indexing?

Change is hard. No one ever really wants to do things dramatically different than the way they do things now. We are creatures of habit. We're used to .COM, .NET and .ORG. Changing the internet and the way we use it is certainly going to hurt for a while.

This particular change is going to be a huge pain. ICANN, has spent years grappling with the policy, technical, and not least the intellectual property issues associated with introducing this fundamental change in the way we find and use online space. After fighting countless battles to ensure it's done responsibly, it's finally opened the doors to all brands, geographies, and generic terms, to invest in, and submit a well planned proposal as to why they are worthy of a permanent and protected online space of their very own. This change to internet life is a lot to swallow, but our appetite for it has been growing steadily.

Imagine the internet where you know that all porn sites have a .xxx, a domain extension that meant they had been cleared for any illegal activities, no more child pornography, no more spyware. Any porn site without .xxx would be best left alone.

Imagine every big brand selling online had their official space — like a .GUCCI, and you knew there was no longer a risk you being scammed by a fake site.

Imagine every Hilton property worldwide along wit the loyalty scheme listed under a .HILTON. That will make search on your mobile phone easier.

The new TLDS will be a challenge for brands, communities, and known personalities to establish as their new online identity. It's expensive, and a major business commitment. In the end, however, it's the consumers and users that will win. Will brands step up to the challenge of creating a new order to the Cybrary? I believe they will. Brands like order, they like to provide reassurance, they like to maintain reputation. And the fleetest of foot will be first at the application gate in January 2012. Competition combined with consumer reassurance will be the tools that built the Cybrary of the future.

By Jennie-Marie Larsen, CEO at DomainDiction

Related topics: Cybersquatting, DNS, Domain Names, ICANN, Internet Governance, Top-Level Domains, Web

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Comments

Indexing Kevin Murphy  –  Oct 10, 2011 11:29 AM PDT

If the idea behind new gTLDs is to efficiently index the internet, ICANN is going about it in entirely the wrong way.

Imagine every big brand selling online had Paul Tattersfield  –  Oct 10, 2011 3:09 PM PDT

Imagine every big brand selling online had their official space

You mean like .hp?
I can imagine a .dell and .ibm, but that doesn’t seem very equitable really does it?

This change to internet life is a lot to swallow, but our appetite for it has been growing steadily.

Do you mean ICANN & ICANN contracted parties’ appetites?

Or the rest of the world’s appetites?

Because outside the ICANN & ICANN contracted parties the overwhelming majority are either against ICANN’s proposal or have no interest. But that’s not new and ICANN have known that for at least 3 or 4 years. As I believe ANA pointed out most large companies are participating through necessity; bit like ICANN sunrises really.

It's a pity ICANN and all the vested interests weren’t more sensible about new gTLDs because all that will happen is they are going to squander an incredibly valuable opportunity to build a more vibrant DNS for the wider public good.

The irony of it is all those who didn't feel able to put public interest before self interest will actually be the biggest losers in the overall scheme of things, but I guess all those share options and executive packages just glittered too brightly.

who is proposing alternatives? Ken Ryan  –  Oct 11, 2011 12:18 PM PDT

I'm not against economic self interest - Jennie-Marie is Chief Marketing Officer for a "company focusing on the business of Top Level Domains" - but I'd like to hear what Paul proposes as his alternative "opportunity to build a more vibrant DNS for the wider public good."

Revolutions ... Volker Greimann  –  Oct 12, 2011 8:50 AM PDT

The new gTLD program is nothing less than a revolution of the way the internet is going to be used in the future. As flawed or as imperfect as the process may be perceived, it was the result of almost a decade of efforts of the entire ICANN community and stakeholder groups. Revolutions always cause resistance of those who think they have more to lose than to gain, so we have seen and are still seeing numerous attempts trying to stop or delay this revolution, but fortunately the train is close to reaching the station.

As you point out, many of those who have protested the loudest will in the end be among the benefactors of this change in the end, once the management stops listening to its trademark lawyers and starts listening to the marketing teams. Yes, there will be brands that are more suited to using their own strings as TLDs than others, and I am guessing we will see some rebranding prior to the second or third round of applications as companies realize the lost potential.

Let's read that again: "once the management Ken Ryan  –  Oct 13, 2011 4:08 AM PDT

Let's read that again: "once the management stops listening to its trademark lawyers and starts listening to the marketing teams." At the risk of sounding radical, shouldn't management focus on customer benefit? 

Which customer groups requested gTLDs .jobs, .aero or .pro?  What customer need have they satisfied, and what 'revolution' have they demonstrated in the way the Internet is used? 

Revolutions are fomented by those who feel they have more to gain than to lose. Who gains from the proposed new gTLDs?  Is it only ICANN's self-interest constituencies perhaps?

The introduction of previous TLDs was too Volker Greimann  –  Oct 13, 2011 4:33 AM PDT

The introduction of previous TLDs was too slow and too limited. They serve a small niche, but due to their restrictive models, they failed to gain a wider appeal or visibility. Other TLDs like .cat and .info have filled their niche very nicely, have been adopted by their audience and can be considered quite a success story.

We are now looking at hunderds, if not thousands of new TLDs being added to the root. If there were no demand, would anyone in their right mind invest hundreds of thousands of dollars per TLD into setting up a new TLD?

The multiplication of available TLDs in a very short period will revolutionaize the way the net is being used, it will open up new ways to communicate, create thousands of jobs, create consumer trust and security. Entire nations will finally be able to use full IDN strings in their native script as internet address without having to switch to the foreign western alphabet. The potential for new usage of the net will be universal, hence "revolutionary" or dare I say "magic".

Well said Volker. And you dare indeed, Jennie-Marie Larsen  –  Oct 13, 2011 5:14 AM PDT

Well said Volker. And you dare indeed, ´magic´ is just the right word.

Too many too late? Ken Ryan  –  Oct 13, 2011 12:56 PM PDT

Domain names have been commercially available since about 1992, .info was introduced in 2001.  With a life span about half that of .com the newer TLD has registered about 1/12 as many names.  And yes, that is a success story compared with other expansion gTLDs. 

I tend to agree with your assessment that backers of .name, .jobs, .travel et al were not in their right minds to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in setting up the new TLDs, but what do you now about demand today that they didn't know then?

Regarding the addition of full IDN scripts to names, great idea!  But those are country code domains, not generics, and the they don't increase the number of TLDs since they apply IDN translation to existing Letter-Digit-Hyphen ccTLD character strings.

IDNs Kevin Murphy  –  Oct 13, 2011 1:08 PM PDT

So what you seem to be saying, Ken, is that only ccTLDs should be available in non-Latin scripts. Correct me if I'm wrong.

You also seem to be saying that the value of a TLD can be measured purely in terms of registration volume compared to .com. Again, correct me if I'm wrong.

I don't think either of those arguments are particularly strong, truth be told.

CcTLDs are the only ones I've heard Ken Ryan  –  Oct 13, 2011 2:27 PM PDT

CcTLDs are the only ones I've heard discussed since the local NICs, not ICANN, determine which IDN characters to allow per ccTLD.

The value I see in TLDs is their value to users (both provides and recipients), which can be determined from such things as registrations, secondary market prices, or the percentage of UDRP cases per TLD. 

Users have not been keen to adopt the expansion gTLDs already available, so in proposing hundreds or thousands of new TLDs, are we saying 'the customer is wrong'?

There are hundreds of applicants willing to Volker Greimann  –  Oct 14, 2011 2:26 AM PDT

There are hundreds of applicants willing to bet hundreds of thousands of dollars on the success of their proposed strings. Would they do so if they shared your view? Probably not. Be aware that success does not mean surpassing .com in a few months time, but rather achieving stability and carving out the niche it set out to fill. A TLD can be successful even if it only achieves a few hundred registrations, if these registrations are enough to fill the need that was envisioned at the inception of the string.

Regarding the IDN ccTLD argument: Ken, you are proposing that mixed strings will be sufficient for users around the world, when they are clearly not. Internet users in regions using a different script currently always have to switch between charsets when using the net. IDN domain names in ccTLDs, while neat, mean that charsets must be switched while entering the URL. Fully IDN gTLD solve this issue.

Measures of success: I do not agree that the scales you propose are sufficient to measure success of a TLD. Some TLDs such as .BRAND or .INDUSTRY will by their nature never have a secondary market and can still be wildly successful in achieving the goal they were intended to achieve. Regarding UDRPs one may aregue that the success of a new TLD could also be measured in a lack of UDRP cases.

Taking a fitting analogy, TLDs are like settlements. There are small towns (.cat, .asia), villages (.museum), and megacities (.com). The secret of success is finding a new place to settle where a new or existing community can thrive. A big settlement may be seen as more successful than a village by some, but living in a village also has its advantages. And some villages, if they are built on the right spot with the right resources, have the potential to become big cities themselves. Sure, there will be ghost towns too, but not every new venture must succeed. Some will, and that is the important thing.

Just let the market decide.

Let the market decide! Ken Ryan  –  Oct 14, 2011 11:28 AM PDT

I'm in full agreement with the sentiment 'let the market decide.' That's what the market has done so far with demonstrable results. 

Jennie-Marie began this thread by claiming that new gTLDs would bring order to the world's cybrary, yet in another comment Volker states that "Some TLDs will thrive, some will crash and burn. And that is a good thing." From a marketing perspective, wouldn't it be a good idea to have a consistent message?  Are you going to warn prospective customers they may be staking their name recognition and Internet marketing budgets on a new TLD that may crash and burn? "And that is a good thing"?

Regarding the addition of full IDN scripts to names, I previously wrote:  "great idea!" You're wrong in saying I propose mixed strings in ccTLDs, the TLD itself should be written in non-Latin script. That's what "full IDN scripts" means.  However, I don't see that doing much to increase the number of TLDs - consider the hypothetical case of bamboo.cn with bamboo written in Chinese characters and .cn in Latin.  What would happen if .cn were also in Chinese characters?  If the 2 domain names pointed to different content you would have split the root - both names must point to the same content, i.e. they represent the same ccTLD. 

Room exists for exceptions of course, I can imagine a .arabic TLD (in IDN) to serve the world's Arabic speaking population (although assigning responsibility for the TLD may have political repercussions), and you've already mentioned .cat.  City states such as New York and London may want to register their own TLDs with the prospect of increasing the name pool and the risk of Balkanizing the net. Sunrise requirements will be important there - will someone with a .com name have first choice of the same name under .nyc?  In that case no new name is being generated.

If you look at a new .brand TLD, what problems does it solve?  The sunrise consideration mentioned above will exist, but beyond that brands (trademarks) are generally not unique in the US. The last time I looked, the US trademark database contained about 100 trademarks based on my family name Ryan, with about 10 being the name alone. The domain name 'ryan.brand' would at best serve 1% of the registered trademarks on just that name and at worst disenfranchise the other 99% (which are also brands). Trevor alludes to this problem in a different comment.

I have an opinion no say about the introduction of hundreds or thousands of new gTLDs. I'm concerned that new gTLDs will not solve the problems that do exist, while creating new problems for users by disregarding their experience and expectations.

The organization/indexing argument only works if information Trevor Schmidt  –  Oct 13, 2011 1:24 PM PDT

The organization/indexing argument only works if information is consistently indexed--but if, for example, only some brands have .brand extensions and only some banks are under a .bank extension and everyting else is divided amongst .com and the soon to be expanding number of .generic extensions it only adds to confusion.

Very true. In a way, the internet Volker Greimann  –  Oct 14, 2011 2:47 AM PDT

Very true. In a way, the internet is going to become more chaotic again, like in the beginning of the web. But is that a bad thing? Some TLDs will thrive, some will crash and burn. And that is a good thing. After a while, new structures will emerge by evolving user behavior patterns.

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