While the World Wide Web as we know it might be vast and it’s size unimaginable, it’s still wild, new and vastly unconquered. It’s a brave new world, where mere dot commers are like colonial squatters staking their flag in the rich binary soil. Some will grow digital crops of t-shirt’s with witty slogans and some will be daily logs of anthropomorphisms of house cats and other animals. If the Internet had a flag, there would be a cat on it for sure. However, .coms and .orgs have had their day; it’s time to find a new empire. Where’s my land of virtual plenty? Where are my 40 gigabytes and an avatar of a mule? Where is my digital El Dorado?
In 2013, we might see the end of the physical world, but we might see a wide broadening of a digital one. On June 20, 2011, thirteen years after the Los Angeles based non-profit private organization took over the job from the United States Government, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) board members officially voted to ban most of the restrictions of applications for generic top level domains. In early 2012, 1,930 proposals for applications, which cost $185,000, with an annual fee of $25,000 just to apply, for arbitrary domain names from a myriad of industries around the world, came rushing in.
Ridiculous domains like .lol. .wtf and more practical domains like .music and .store; both proposed by e-commerce giant Amazon. And applications, which were sitting on the desks of ICANN since early 2000, were finally approved, like the much abhorred .XXX domain which became available to the masses in early 2012. But ICANN, master and ruler of all Internet domains, can’t just pick and choose which applications will be accepted.
On Monday I tuned into a live stream of ICANN’s Preliminary Prioritization Draw Results at the International Ballroom of the Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel. Tickets for actually being there were about $100 a pop. The draw is essentially a lottery of sorts to see which applicants get priority to go live first in the coming months. Most of the time there was silence as the announcer literally read out thousands of accepted applicants and their respective domains.
There was the occasional cough and empty sound of boredom, but in some cases you could hear laughing, excitement and polite cheer when a popular domain received priority. In 2013, we’ll see for the first time ever domain strings in other alphabets, like Cyrillic, Chinese, and Japanese. We’ll also see new domain’s like .love, .flowers, .tattoo, .dad, and .Christmas.
But while the draw marks a literal windfall for the domain registrar and a major coup for most of the major multi-national corporations, like JP Morgan Chase (who won .chase) and pharmaceutical giant Merck, who could afford the applications, it’s also a possible water mark of the decreasing democratization of the web.
Yes, the World Wide Web is about the get a lot more complicated and a lot of more strange as bigger companies purchase bigger and bigger slices or the pie. Will the mere dot commers be like feudal .serves to the .lords of the new future Internet? In the end, Monday marked a historic day in the Web – hello .pizza, .gifts, .tjmaxx, .smile and fittingly enough .pioneer. To see all the results head over to the ICANN website.