[At-Large] domains are so last century

John R. Levine johnl at iecc.com
Wed Jan 12 05:06:47 UTC 2011

>> I continue to be bewildered by the baseless assertion that one cannot have
>> speak freely on the Internet without owning a domain.
> Sure - but lack of a domain name is a handicap.

You know, it's not 1995 any more.  Maybe it's time to see whether anything 
has changed since then.

People speak in vast amounts on the Internet.  There are, by most 
estimates, hundreds of millions of blogs and personal sites hosted at 
places like Blogger, Typepad, Wordpress and (perish forbid) Facebook. 
Most of those blogs have their very own domain names, approximately none 
of which was provided by an ICANN registrar.  They're all subdomains of 
the blog site, e.g., weeklysift.blogspot.com written by a friend of mine. 
It's true, you're at Google's mercy with a blogspot subdomain, but given 
the choice of depending on Google for a 3LD or depending on Godaddy for a 
2LD, I don't see any reason to prefer one over the other.

Furthermore, as I've said about a million times already, domains are 
useless without hosting and connectivity, which are at least as much of a 
challenge as picking a domain name.  For a good example of this, look at 
the recent saga of Wikileaks.  People have beaten up on them in all sorts 
of ways, Amazon cancelling their hosting, Paypal cutting off their 
contributions, but have you heard anything about losing their domain?

As it happens, wikileaks.org has been hijacked and wikileaks.info was 
recently registered by someone who is not Wikileaks, and as best we can 
tell is a Russian crimeware gang at heihachi.net.  (Compare the cruddy 
looking site at mirror.wikileaks.info to any of the 1400 real mirrors 
mostly at 3LDs like wikileaks.sharegroundz.com and wikileaks.gvoice.eu.) 
Few people even know or care about the hijacked domain; it doesn't matter, 
since they can find Wikileaks anyway.

There are plenty of important issues that ICANN needs to address. 
Anonymous vanity domains isn't one of them.

"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"*

John Levine, johnl at iecc.com, Primary Perpetrator of "The Internet for Dummies",
Please consider the environment before reading this e-mail. http://jl.ly

* - a quote from a famous economist everyone should recognize

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