Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dot Anything Goes

Things are going to get mighty interesting and not in a good way.
Anytime there is more choice for any good or service, it is considered a good development.  However, neuroscience is starting to prove that too many choices can lead to intellectual paralysis and bad decision making.  The adage about having too much of a good thing keeps getting confirmed. 

This may be why the January 2nd story from Crain's Chicago business intrigued me so much.  ICANN on January 12th is opening up domain registrations for any type of generic top-level domain.  This means that a company can have a web address like this:  www.home.mycompany name instead of the more conventional www.mycompanyname.com.  As they describe it in the article, this will herald the beginning of the "vanity plate" era of web addresses. 

News of this latest innovation was greeted with universal opposition from federal officials, non-for-profits, and plenty of major corporations.  Only one thing could unite so many desperate groups; in the world of .COM, .NET and .ORG additional base domain names become a money losing proposition and an opportunity for thieves and squatters.

Plenty of businesses have to purchase additional domains so they can protect their brand.  The most infamous case was WhiteHouse.com which directed users to a porn site before the domain was purchased by the federal government.  Current GOP candidate Newt Gingrich also has a similar problem as squatters have purchased Newt Gingrich.com and refused to sell it back to the former house speaker.  If this is the kind of mischief which can take place with 22 domain names imagine the chaos of an infinite number of names.

I love choice.  This is not choice it is craziness and that is going to cost large and small businesses lots of money.  Currently, colleges and universities are snapping up .XXX domain names to prevent companies from creating porn sites featuring their co-eds.  This is money which could have been used on students; instead they are fighting pornographers looking to make a buck. 

I hope that people will be responsible with these new types of top level domains but considering the lawless and libertarian nature of the web, I have a very bad feeling about what might happen next. 

Until next time.