[NA-Discuss] The TLD-less NYC

Thomas Lowenhaupt toml at communisphere.com
Sat Apr 2 03:46:31 UTC 2011


Our goal is to see how the Internet resource called the DNS can be 
shaped to help build a better city. The DNS was not designed for that. 
But if there's the prospect that it can be used to facilitate better 
local communication, I'm all for giving it a try. Considering the 
dreadful current state of local communication, it would be a shame if we 
didn't try.

Its use in an Internet of Things application might help make our city 
more efficient and programmer-friendly.

If we can allocate reflective domain names to existing organizations, 
we'll improve the intuitive nature of the Net. Something that's being 
lost with its current development trajectory.

As well, we might facilitate the creation of a local search engine that 
works in a transparent manner, vital in tasks such as facilitating fair 
elections and creating a a level playing fields for local businesses. I 
wouldn't bet my city's future on a do-no-evil pledge from a global 

And useful portals offering some guidance to residents and visitors - 
not an easy task, but worth a try.

Evan, spend an hour or so on our wiki (http://bit.ly/OurWiki) and blog 
(http://bit.ly/OurBlog) to see the thinking that evolving into a 
different DNS.  We can really use some help. Just last night I spoke to 
a top bureaucrat at the city's IT agency who indicated that they are 
looking to Verisign, NuStar, and other prospective contractors for 
policy guidance. "Here's how you sell more names, faster, and cheaper. 
Sign here."

There's huge pressure to sell names willy-nilly, both city budget 
shortfalls and 90% of the industry panting for new TLDs and pointing to 
historic faults as evidence that a thoughtfully developed .nyc TLD is 
impossible. We don't believe so and it would be good to have the strong 
support of NARLO and ALAC and NCUC and other entities inclined toward 
the public interest in matters Internet to add support to our effort.


Tom Lowenhaupt

P.S. I've addressed a few of your specific points below.

On 4/1/2011 6:41 PM, Evan Leibovitch wrote:
> On 1 April 2011 16:00, Thomas Lowenhaupt <toml at communisphere.com 
> <mailto:toml at communisphere.com>> wrote:
>     >  Is there ANY instance that one could name in which the public
>     has been
>     >  deprived of original Internet content because of limitations of
>     the existing
>     >  namespace?
>     If you see a city such as New York as a complex entity that might
>     benefit from a potentially coherent resource such as a TLD, you
>     can see,
>     minimally, some "lost opportunity costs."
> Guess I don't see it.
> IMO the city -- any city -- isn't defined by a TLD any more than it's 
> defined by its Yellow Pages.

The city will be defined by a number of factors, including in this 
instance, its willingness to try and make lemonade from the DNS lemon. 
With the possible exception of Hong Kong and Singapore, cities have not 
had the opportunity to be defined by their TLDs. I suspect that, 10 
years after their issuance, if you visit a city with a thoughtfully 
developed TLD and one without, you might come away thinking that one is 
more Internet-friendly than the other. And that Internet-friendly will 
translate into a more livable and prosperous city.

> We are, after all, just talking about directories and aliases -- not 
> the establishments (ie, hosted sites) themselves.

Not exactly sure what you mean by hosted sites, but we do advocate for a 
measured allocation of some portal names, for example those of the 
those that might advance a more sustainable city 
and the voter cloud 

> Does a restaurant get more hits by people typing its URL? or have 
> they, more likely, depended upon:
> 1) A review site such as Fodor or nyt.com <http://nyt.com>
> 2) A social-referral system such as Chowhound (or even Facebook)
> 3) Their favourite search engine (if you type the restaurant name 
> freehand in the browser window, Google will find it regardless of 
> domain it uses)
> 4) An app on their phone such as Urbanspoon or Yelp
> The last two require no end-user interaction with domain names.

We are moving away from local control of our digital environment which 
we'd like to see reversed by the development of a more intuitive Net, 
transparent search engines, and fair, perhaps collaborative, portals.

These things all take time and one good thing about the ICANN process - 
as least as I now see it - is that a city need not be rushed to make 
these decisions. A measured development plan will pay off in the long run.

> A rapid growth of TLDs is not going to diminish the appeal of search 
> engines and dedicated apps. Users have worked around the flaws in the 
> existing DNS -- the domainers, the phishers, the park pages -- in very 
> clever ways, and they aren't likely to come back just because there's 
> a new domain in town (let alone hundreds of them) offering more of the 
> same flaws.

The DNS has huge flaws and few are doing anything about it. What actions 
has ICANN taken to prepare cities for developing their TLDs? It follows 
the one-plan-fits-all approach. I've tried to get my government to 
assume some responsibility for the flawed Net, so far to no avail.
If the DNS keeps stumbling along pressure will grow for its replacement. 
I think the more intuitive Net, led by cities, provides a possible path 
for the DNS' survival.

> The Internet is advancing, and domain names are but one method -- and 
> in my opinion, one that is decreasing in popularity -- to bring people 
> together with the web-based content they want. One will rarely get to 
> a typosquatter site using Google or Bing, they try to autocorrect bad 
> spelling and even warn you of bad sites, The DNS alone doesn't do this 
> and won't do it, since the ICANN food chain has become so dependent on 
> speculators and squatters.

You gotta love Google. But let's be prudent and not become overly 
dependent on it. And let's explore the prospect and advantages of a 
civicly controlled TLD. It's not too late IMHO.

> And we now have our first well-known instance in which desirable 
> content cannot trust the domain name system and bypasses it 
> completely. Look up Wikileaks in Google and it will take you to 

+1 (or does Google own that now?) Another route around the traditional 
DNS might be Robert Kahn's Digital Object Architecture.

> The Internet has always had a wonderful way of routing around 
> obstacles, and the DNS is one of those obstacles. Vested interests 
> would say that the problem can be solved by simply throwing more 
> available domains in the pool .... but the poor performance of so many 
> *existing* TLDs should indicate to anyone with an open mind that the 
> problem is much deeper than that.

I advocate for public interest city-TLDs. (And for TLDs that support 
cultural groups.) To more effectively and efficiently operate our city 
we need to better use technology, with the Internet being today's low 
hanging fruit. And today the DNS can be part of that. If we wait another 
10 years before it becomes available, it might be ruined for all 
practical purposes. So I say cities today. (I say another 10 years 
because April 19 marks the 10th anniversary of Queens Community Board 
3's Internet Empowerment Resolution 
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Empowerment_Resolution>, our 
guiding document.)

> As for the assertion that a TLD is necessary at a psychic level, 
> sorry, I'm skeptical in the absence of any harder evidence than 
> exists. I see a collectivist value to cultural and linguistic TLDs, 
> especially ones with a globally scattered diaspora and/or needing 
> non-Latin scripts. But anything beyond that hasn't yet proven to be 
> more than wishful thinking.

I agree on the cultural TLDs. And I hope to have part in creating the 
proof you desire for city-TLDs. But again, the likelihood of that 
happening without support of groups such as NARLO and ALAC is 
diminished. (nudge nudge)

> A long time ago ICANN had a choice of whether domain names were to be 
> identities or commodities. It chose the more-financially-rewarding 
> latter, with some exception for trademarks. But, having seen the glut 
> of useless park pages, "this domain for sale" notices, typosquatters 
> and often the best names being used for garbage, the public 
> understands fully that domain names are not identities -- they're just 
> occasionally-reliable places to find stuff. In my time in ICANN I want 
> to raise that level of public trust, but I don't think it can be done 
> just by adding new TLDs.

I agree.
> - Evan
>     If you look at the impact on the city's social fabric - its essence -
>     that the city experiences without the unifying force TLD offers,
>     forcing
>     us to live within a digital diaspora of .com, .org, .net, .edu, .us,
>     etc., one sees another possible loss.
>     It's my opinion that the impact on IBM (.ibm) or the sports industry
>     (.sports) are less severe. And that each day city residents and
>     organizations invest more in the extant obsolescent structure, the
>     less
>     optimum its development.
>     My daily life in New York City tells me that this Internet thing that
>     promised to make finding fellow residents and local organizations
>     easier, has not delivered as promised. Granted the Net has changed the
>     city in innumerable ways - many for the better. But if one looks at a
>     coherent digital development policy, composed of a thoughtful naming
>     structure, access, and the training that should accompany the
>     introduction of a city-TLD, one begins to see  why we need a TLD now.
>     Tom Lowenhaupt
>     On 4/1/2011 2:10 PM, Avri Doria wrote:
>     > Hi,
>     >
>     > I do not understand in what way their application is so special
>     from all other applications that they should jump the queue.
>     > As I recall .Berlin was ready a long time ago and they too asked
>     to be given special license to go before everyone.
>     > In fact I can think of few applicants who do not think their
>     application is special and should be able to go before all the others.
>     > So at least in the presumption that they should go first, they
>     aren't very different.
>     >
>     > What they all seem to ignore is that any effort to push ahead,
>     necessarily pushes everyone else behind.
>     > Or maybe they don't ignroe it, they might just not care.
>     >
>     > a.
>     >
>     >
>     > On 31 Mar 2011, at 15:07, Eric Brunner-Williams wrote:
>     >
>     >> On 3/31/11 1:52 PM, Richard Tindal wrote:
>     >>> Thanks for those kind words
>     >>>
>     >>> Where we differ is the effect on an applicant of being
>     deferred to the second round due to any  'limitation' mechanism
>     (this would probably be a one or two year delay - i.e. a 2013
>     application).
>     >>>
>     >>> You don't see this as a major problem for deferred applicants,
>     whereas I think it would be very harmful to some applicants (and
>     their prospective users).
>     >> The City of Paris entered into a process to select a registry
>     operator
>     >> in 2007. The City of New York did so in 2009.
>     >>
>     >> These two applicants have been waiting for ICANN to accept
>     >> applications, for for its own reasons ICANN has refused to accept
>     >> applications from each, arguing that it, ICANN, had some policy
>     >> development, unrelated to either application, to resolve as a
>     >> precondition to accepting either application.
>     >>
>     >> At some point, perhaps in 2011, in this one-of-two hypothetical to
>     >> explore the claim of harm, one of these two application is
>     accepted by
>     >> ICANN, and in 2013 the other of these two application is
>     accepted by
>     >> ICANN.
>     >>
>     >> Assume Paris before New York (unless you find a good reason to
>     >> entertain New York before Paris), and describe the harm to New York
>     >> (or Paris), resulting from this delay.
>     >>
>     >> I hope this isn't necessary, but under the GAC model, the status of
>     >> Paris as the capital of a territory with a code point in ISO
>     3166, and
>     >> the lack of that status for New York, is not relevant, as the GAC
>     >> model proposes, inter alia, to do more than just establish and
>     resolve
>     >> contention sets. So both .paris and .nyc are to be allocated
>     >> unconditionally to the applications brought by the municipal
>     >> authorities of Paris and New York City, respectively. I just
>     wanted to
>     >> eliminate this as a possible rational for harm, as I believe you're
>     >> making a much broader delay-equals-harm claim.
>     >>
>     >> Eric
>     >>
>     >>> R
>     >>>
>     >>> On Mar 30, 2011, at 4:54 PM, Eric Brunner-Williams wrote:
>     >>>
>     >>>> Richard,
>     >>>>
>     >>>> First, my condolences. Of the many persons I've worked with
>     while responsible for XRP/EPP standards development at NeuStar and
>     the technical aspects of NeuStar/NeuLevel's .biz and .us
>     applications, and competed with prior to separating from CORE, I
>     consider you to be one of the most level headed and pragmatic, as
>     well as ingenious, of the for-profit advocates, and your lack of
>     employment indicative of how clueless and unenlightened the
>     self-interested actors in the .com following portion of the domain
>     name industry really are.
>     >>>>
>     >>>> There are two models to work with.
>     >>>>
>     >>>> The Staff model, which for all of our respective advocacy,
>     and that of our peers, we've only decorated slightly since San
>     Juan. That one has one or more tranches of 500 from a single
>     application window, with no policy tools to differentiate
>     applications other than those for the purposes of determining
>     string contention outcomes.
>     >>>>
>     >>>> The GAC model, which so far has not much specific form (not
>     that the Staff model has a lot of essential form, though it has a
>     great deal of simulation of form), and which I and some others may
>     manage to decorate slightly. That one has a sub-tranche, and after
>     a period sufficient to resolve some outstanding policy issues,
>     another sub-tranche, possibly both from a single application window.
>     >>>>
>     >>>> The Staff model has the feature that it is nominally cyclic,
>     and a second application window, with attractive features like the
>     possibility of lower cost to the applicant, in a year or two after
>     the first round.
>     >>>>
>     >>>> The GAC model has the feature that it proposes that the set
>     of policy issues in which applications not policy-qualified (and
>     the term in Heather's letter of Oct. 23rd was "non-controversial"
>     which I hope we can agree means policy-qualified for some
>     statement of policy, regardless of what one's views on the utility
>     or necessity of that policy may be) can be resolved in a period
>     comparable to or less than what Staff proposes as the period
>     between rounds.
>     >>>>
>     >>>> Abstractly then, the two models into which to fit our
>     competing assumptions are an application window in which anything
>     is accepted (Staff) and an application window in which less than
>     anything is accepted (GAC), and regardless of the absence or
>     existence of condition on that first application window, recurring
>     windows without restriction.
>     >>>>
>     >>>> So if you accept the above, then I suggest that the problem
>     you've posed, Paris before New York (or the reverse), results in
>     no harm to the application which is deferred for lack of capacity
>     in the tranche beyond a delay. Paris, or New York, waits a year or
>     two and then its application is processed. Given the modest level
>     of harm to the municipal governments of Paris and New York of any
>     year of delay, it is not a given that the harm of deciding which
>     to delay is sufficiently great to abandon the putative advantages
>     of the GAC model for the putative advantages of the Staff model.
>     >>>>
>     >>>> I commend to you the recent paper prepared for Rod Beckstrom
>     by ICANN Staff on the NTIA NOI for the IANA Functions. You'll find
>     that ICANN Staff are quite committed to the preference of private
>     agency, of necessity for-profit (and of course dominated by the
>     highly profitable), over public agency, to a truely astonishing
>     degree.
>     >>>>
>     >>>> As to the mechanism for limiting to N some set of M
>     applications, where all M applications meet some policy criteria
>     (GAC model, generally), where M is greater than N, a spelling bee
>     using words from the first language of the applicant would
>     suffice, as there is, as I pointed out above, little actual loss
>     to qualified applicants in deferring the processing of their
>     application by the interval currently proposed in either model.
>     >>>>
>     >>>> Eric
>     >>>
>     >>>
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> -- 
> Evan Leibovitch, Toronto Canada
> Em: evan at telly dot org
> Sk: evanleibovitch
> Tw: el56

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