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June 27 2008

New Domain Names on the Way

ICANNThe Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) group, the people responsible for regulating the rules of domain names, passed a new measure today that could either be the greatest idea ever, or the worst.

According to Times Online, people will be able to purchase pretty much any top level domain they can think of, so instead of seeing .com, you might see something like .apple or .microsoft.  This is only going to be for big corporations, though as prices will start at $100,000.  So, lets say I bought .seanpaune, and then sold the right for people to buy domains on it just like you do a .com now, those are the type of people they are looking at.

My problem with this is that up until now I knew if I needed to go to a website, all I really needed to was remember the first part of the domain name.  So long as I remembered that part, I knew the last part had to be .com, .net, .org and so on, but now I will have to remember everything.  I know this doesn’t sound major, but lets say I’m driving down a highway, and I see a billboard for a company that I am interested in.  Instead of just having to remember one word, now I also have to remember the extension, and that may not be easy while going 65 mph.

The only big success story I can think of using one of the off-shoot extensions already is Del.icio.us.  They hit on a beautiful idea by using the underused .us extension, but how many times are you going to see something like that under this new scheme?  Sure some people will try it, but most of those styles of extensions will only be good for a limited number of domains, and the person will have trouble recouping thier $100,000 investment.

domain confusionIt is obvious that ICANN is doing this to make more money, but I feel they have done a horrible disservice to the Internet at large with this decision.  Yes, all the good .com names are gone, but such is life, and this will only lead to a rash ever increasingly confabulated names and user confusion.  This will only serve to confuse the Web at large and possibly frustrate people to the point of not even wanting to bother with it.

Then comes the idea of how fast do you think people will rush for things like .sex, .porn and any other number of popular Internet activities such as .betting and so on.  This will also cause a problem for small companies that could easily see their name snapped up as an extension because they can’t afford a $100,000 price tag, and even in just the scenario of needing to buy thier addresses with yet another extension.  I already have several misspellings of my main domain names locked down, now I will have to worry about a possible endless wellspring of new domain extensions I may need to snap up also to protect my company name?

The better idea would have been to release a few new extensions a year, but now we will just see a flood of bizarre names, people investing in extensions and domains that will do them no good and users that are just fed up. Good job, ICANN.



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