Let a thousand top-level domains bloom

ICANN is planning ot add a few new top-level domains to supplement .com, .org, .net, .edu, .gov, .mil and the newly-created domains that no one wants.
I don’t necessarily agree with Bob Frankston that domain names per se are the problem, but it seems to me that we’re all poorly served by the current system.
Why not introduce a thousand new top-level domains, or ten thousand? From the perspective of Verisign/Network Solutions and the competitive registrars, it’s not desireable because it eliminates the current artifical scarcity that makes dot-com domains saleable (if not as valuable as they were in 1999).
But the market is meaningless. People are getting hurt because of the pretend-authority of a dot-com address.
When I bought mediasavvy.com, the incumbent speculator was asking $1500 for it. He settled for $175, including five years’ registration. I’m currently trying to buy a domain that has expired a week ago, but the registrar still hasn’t released it.
The current system is corrupt and corrupting. Domains should be cheap as dirt and easy to get.

11 thoughts on “Let a thousand top-level domains bloom

  1. I wouldn’t want a “previously used” domain. There’s no telling how much spam is already being directed at a domain you buy. You often cannot use the common addresses (info@, webmaster@, sales@, etc.) because of this baggage, and so you bounce all that incoming mail.
    In the future ISPs might charge _you_ for bounced mail (spam) because it eats their bandwidth and they don’t have the time or money to sue the spammers. You, the legitimate customer, are an easier target. I get charged when I answer unsolicited calls on my cell phone. How long before an ISP charges me for 1,000+ weekly bounced e-mails?

  2. Mediasavvy.com seems to be relatively spam-free so far, but I’m sure the increased activity here will be noted by the spammers.
    This isn’t only an issue with “used” domains. Once a domain is registered, it’s known to the world, and the default addresses become fair game.
    Regarding the text, I agree. This is what came with the default template and it’s too light. I forgot to change the comment text color when I changed it main blog. I’m working on it now.

  3. Change the system:
    a) Give domain names numeric equivalents (not IPs, use a new system).
    b) Give domain names a bar code equivalent.
    c) Enable all handheld devices with I/R scanners so they can capture domain name, number address and barcode.
    d) Create new handheld devices (digital pens, etc.) that capture these URLs. Think CueCat, but without the proprietary crap, bulky size and tethered cable. Open standards.
    e) Make URLs extremely easy to grab in real-world situations for later delivery to Internet-enabled devices.
    f) Tie domains to company names, allowing search engines to offer company-only searches. Think NetSol’s failed “dot com directory,” but using an open database available to all engines.
    URLs will become so easy to grab (or retrieve via search engines) that “.com” addresses will lose their importance. We won’t need catchy easy-to-remember domain names. Do I care when I’m just going to whip out my pen and zap the bar code off your business card?

  4. CueCat was an awful mess from the get-go and clearly a lot of the problems had to do with the Kludgey design.
    However, I dlso think there’s a fundmental issue with geting people to scan stuff even if the infrastructure were in place and seamless (e.g. you could do it by waving your cellphone at a product). This isn’t something that’s all that useful except in a very limited class of activities for a very special kind of person.

  5. I stand looking at digital cameras at a Staples store and start talking to another customer next to me. He’s perplexed and doesn’t know how to pick a camera, because so little information is available in-store. I suggested he begin by grabbing full specs at the manufacturer’s web site. His problem… “Yeah, but how would I ever find Sony’s web site?” Guessing the URL never occurred to him and search engines are too daunting. (Most users stick with their browser’s default page. Even when they know a URL, they type the URL into MSN or Netscape’s search box instead of visiting it directly.)
    You don’t think the average joe would find it useful to zap URLs for later retrieval on their computer?
    Push one button to capture URLs off printed material. Push another button to display the URLs in your browser. Simple.
    Browsing a camera magazine (or reading one at the grocery store) he could zap 20 URLs, visit product pages, and eliminate the need for a search engine. Pervasive URLs mean the user doesn’t have to run to a help tool (search engines) to locate information. Engines still have a purpose, but pervasive URLs mean users have more ways to get at information.
    IMHO, in the future URLs will be on almost all commercial products. They aren’t there now only because we don’t think that way yet. It’s not practical to expect people to grab URLs off products yet because it’s not easy to do so.
    On top of all this, the domain system needs an overhaul. Creating 1,000 new TLDs doesn’t solve the underlying problem. More TLDs make the situation worse.
    The current system puts the emphasis on easy-to-remember URLs. Add 1,000 TLDs and you introduce a mountain of confusion. Was that McDonalds.com, net, org, biz, food, yum, child, grease, etc.? You either force corporations to snatch up all variations of their names in all of these TLDs (solving nothing) or confuse people when they remember the wrong TLD (making things worse). Memorable URLs are not the solution; they cannot ever be the solution.
    The day we have 1,000 TLDs people will realize how ridiculous the situation is and scream for a better, less messy system.

  6. Scanning URL’s: I just can’t picture real people doing this, when you’re going to get better results looking up a camera roundup on CNET or dpreview.
    Domain names: Numbers have the same problem — they’re for machines, not people. The beauty of domain names is that they’re a lot easier to remember than IP addresses. The problem is that right now, there’s only one quality commercial domain and a few lousy nouveau domains. If there were thousands of new, quality TLD’s, with a fair arbitration process (unlike the one we have now), British Petroleum could have bp.com and I could have bp.media.

  7. The average joe doesn’t know about CNET or dpreview. The average joe needs things as simple as possible. The average joe would gladly zap a URL to obtain information, even if it’s biased and comes from the manufacturer. Spend some time with someone less experienced than you… then realize that half of America has yet to go online in any significant manner. When they do go online, boy, don’t expect them to understand the morass we’ve made the web today.
    Numbers are for machines, sure. But when you’re zapping, you don’t need to know the URL. That’s the point. You get completely removed from the need to know an address because it’s pervasive. You reach web sites without memorizing anything. Why should I have to read a URL and try to remember it or write it down? That’s archaic.
    Save this thread and read it again 5 years from now.

  8. Addendum… one benefit of moving to a system where knowing or even seeing the URL doesn’t matter means domain names become pointless. No more hoarding. No more trademark lawsuits. I could host my web site off an old ISP account like http://www.ispname.com/~rotwang and it wouldn’t matter because numbers are numbers. 1234.5678.9012.3456 is as good as 9876.5432.1098.7654. Sure, the lettered domain looks nicer, but remember, in Rotwang’s future you have no need to see the URL. You reach my site in a search engine, bookmark it, zap it with your pen, etc. never caring what the URL is. In print, most of the time I’ll be zapping a bar code. The numeric code exists for when I need to convey something over the phone… but again, in Rotwang’s pervasive future, maybe you send me your URL over the phone and it’s saved electronically on my end. Hey, I can dream.
    OK, one concern… You could be worried that the Ebay web site you’re at is the true Ebay and not some scammer. Solution: in the new system businesses would still be tied to a central registry. Your browser would have an “ID” button that you click to get factual background information on file about the web site.
    I submit to you that the only reason we still have lettered domains is because we have a need for them to be easy-to-remember, to be people-friendly. In Rotwang’s future that need does not exist. When someone tries to speak a URL to you, you’ll be shocked at how “20th Century” that person is.
    Seven years ago my friends carried pocket-size paper notebooks where they wrote in pencil the URLs to cool web sites so they could remember the URLs and share the URLs with friends. Now we bookmark our URLs and e-mail them to friends. The next evolutionary jump could be even better.

  9. OK, this won’t be a reality in 5 years. Probably not even 10. Technology moves far too slow. I’d bet within 20 years we’ll see pervasive URLs.

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