[At-Large] [governance] Cigar Box Governance

Olivier MJ Crepin-Leblond ocl at gih.com
Thu Mar 5 08:19:18 UTC 2015

Dear Tom,

thank you for this report. It is interesting in the sense that it is not
the first time I see a "Community Initiative" being captured by
commercial interests. As sad as it may be, in the current economic
times, it is somehow to be expected. Councils are looking for revenue
streams, subsidies are reduced and commercial use is increasing.
Overall, do you, at the moment, see the program as being a success?
Where has it exceeded your expectations?
Where has it fallen short of your expectations?

Kind regards,


On 02/03/2015 01:48, Thomas Lowenhaupt wrote:
> Alejandro,
> I'm delighted that you found my report valuable. Thank you for so noting.
> I'll try to answer your questions in-line below.
> On 3/1/2015 6:08 PM, Dr. Alejandro Pisanty Baruch wrote:
>> Tom,
>> thanks for sharing this report. I found it really valuable. 
>> It does seem that the management of .nyc has a lot of wiggle room - i.e. a broad space for discretionality, even arbitrariness, in the political and business directions of its policy and operation.
> > A few months back I met a former city employee who worked on the
> .nyc TLD during the Bloomberg Administration.  She stated the city's
> Economic Development Corporation was the lead agency for developing
> the .nyc TLD. My immediate response was, can't be, we never even see
> them at the meeting of mayor's .NYC Community Advisory Board. I'd
> refer you to the city's reports to verify this, but the city never
> published a report on the meetings. Those made by Connecting.nyc Inc.
> are the only published documents (see here
> <http://www.coactivate.org/projects/campaign-for.nyc/community-advisory-board/>). 
> Ever since hearing her "opinion" I've been wondering who really runs
> the show. It's clear it wasn't the Advisory Board.
>> The report also reads somewhat disappointing regarding .nyc as a business. Is there a kind of cycle in which this questioning is replied to by saying "well, it's not pure business, it's community" and then, seeing the poor community uptake, that is replied to by saying "well, it's not pure community, it has to be a business after all"?
> >The official (and again unpublished) voice is that everything is
> perfect, or nearly so. The viewpoint was "If there's anything wrong
> we'll fix it later." The city officials had a limited understanding of
> a TLDs potential or of the business. It is this ignorance that I'm
> hoping will be meliorated by requiring future city-TLD applicants to
> demonstrate informed consent when submitting TLD requests to ICANN.
>> Also may I note that domain names like 125thstreet sound a bit less compelling than 125st? How many variants are going to be protected. What are the policies for familiar abbreviations like bedstuy vis a vis the official designation bedfordstuyvesant? 
> >All the neighborhood names during the Bloomberg Administration were
> set to auction off the highest bidder. They initially offered to make
> the single domain name "neighborhoods.nyc" available as a public
> resource. The current mayor Bill de Blasio set all the neighborhood
> names aside, as well as a few for familiar abbreviations such as
> bedsty.nyc. But there was no policy, voiced or in writing that I'm
> aware of. As to the street names I agree. But the suggestion that the
> street names be allocated to responsible entities was never considered
> (to my awareness), with the market to make things right I suppose.
>> Yours,
>> Alejandro Pisanty
> > Alejandro, thanks again for your interest. Tom Lowenhaupt
>> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
>>      Dr. Alejandro Pisanty
>> Facultad de Química UNAM
>> Av. Universidad 3000, 04510 Mexico DF Mexico
>> +52-1-5541444475 FROM ABROAD
>> +525541444475 DESDE MÉXICO SMS +525541444475
>> Blog: http://pisanty.blogspot.com
>> LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/pisanty
>> Unete al grupo UNAM en LinkedIn, http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/22285/4A106C0C8614
>> Twitter: http://twitter.com/apisanty
>> ---->> Unete a ISOC Mexico, http://www.isoc.org
>> .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
>> ________________________________________
>> Desde: at-large-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org [at-large-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org] en nombre de Thomas Lowenhaupt [toml at communisphere.com]
>> Enviado el: domingo, 01 de marzo de 2015 07:15
>> Hasta: Olivier MJ Crepin-Leblond; At-Large Worldwide
>> Asunto: Re: [At-Large] [governance] Cigar Box Governance
>> Olivier,
>> I'd planned on doing some additional research before sharing this post
>> with the At-Large, hoping to find some relevant violation of ICANN's
>> contractual requirements or moral code (if such  exists) before doing
>> so. But with your having let the cigar out of its rapper, so to speak,
>> here's a link to my post entitled Digital.nyc - A Status Report
>> <http://www.connectingnyc.org/digital-nyc/>, as reprinted below. If you
>> (or anyone at At-Large) knows where the city might have violated the
>> extant contract, please let me know.
>> Best,
>> Tom Lowenhaupt
>> P.S. Let me take this opportunity to thank you and the others who've
>> been addressing the various transition issues over the past several
>> months. My local efforts have eaten into the time I'd hoped to spend
>> searching for as suitable global governance path. The At-Large
>> transition team has been doing great work, and I offer my
>> congratulations. Again, thanks to all.
>> On 3/1/2015 4:23 AM, Olivier MJ Crepin-Leblond wrote:
>>> Dear Thomas,
>>> very interesting reading. Did you share this with the At-Large new
>>> gTLD working group? (or on the At-Large lists?)
>>> Kind regards,
>>> Olivier
>>> On 28/02/2015 01:49, Thomas Lowenhaupt wrote:
>>>> While most attention here is on global governance, I thought you
>>>> might be interested in what it's sometimes like at the bottom. Here's
>>>> a post we made today reviewing the first 6 months of the .nyc TLD's
>>>> operation: http://connectingnyc.org. (I've copied it below for the
>>>> convenience of some.)
>>>> While I entitled it /Digital.nyc - A Status Report/, with the .nyc
>>>> TLD's operation lacking transparency, accountability, or a governance
>>>> process it might better be called Cigar Box Governance.
>>>> Best,
>>>> Tom Lowenhaupt
>>>>     Digital.nyc – A Status Report
>>>>     <http://www.connectingnyc.org/digital-nyc/>
>>>> Posted by: Editor <http://www.connectingnyc.org/author/editor/>
>>>> <http://www.connectingnyc.org/digital-nyc/half-candle/>Jackson Hts.,
>>>> New York, February 24, 2015 – We’re a 1/2 candle into the life of our
>>>> city’s TLD and an appropriate time for an evaluation. But with .nyc’s
>>>> success metrics undefined, an assessment is challenging. Hoping that
>>>> we might contribute to a long term analytical framework, we decided
>>>> to undertake this first review.
>>>> Fundamentally, there are two competing perspectives on a TLD’s
>>>> success, the standard and community. The metric used for assessing
>>>> standard TLDs such as .com, .net, and .org is based on the number of
>>>> names sold. We honor that tradition by presenting a statistical review.
>>>> For community TLDs, the operational approach we’ve advocated, success
>>>> comprises a positive impact on the delivery of city services,
>>>> economic enhancement, and an improved quality of life. We took a
>>>> first stroke at identifying community metrics on our wiki
>>>> <http://www.coactivate.org/projects/campaign-for.nyc/city-tld-metrics-checklist>
>>>> some time ago. With community enhancements emerging from long term
>>>> development efforts, an assessment at this early stage is
>>>> challenging. What we do here is look at some early actions and how
>>>> they might influence those long term goals.
>>>>       Traditional Metrics
>>>> Let’s start with some stats on the number of .nyc domain names sold.
>>>>   * As of February 22, the city’s contractor reported 72,103 names
>>>>     sold with sales at a rate of about 90 registrations per day. (See
>>>>     more current stats here <https://ntldstats.com/tld/nyc>.
>>>>     <https://ntldstats.com/tld/nyc>)
>>>>   * Of those, 74.27% or 52,672 were “parked.” A parked domain is one
>>>>     purchased but without any meaningful content (see keys.nyc
>>>>     <http://keys.nyc/> for an example). Names purchased for
>>>>     speculative purposes might be parked. And with .nyc being a new
>>>>     TLD, many are surely parked while under development.
>>>>   * That 74% of parked domains has been inching down over the months.
>>>>     For comparison .berlin has 73% parked, .london 36%, .paris 48%,
>>>>     and .tokyo 55%. (Might we induce a level of speculative purchases
>>>>     from these?)
>>>>   * Doing some subtraction (72,103 – 52,672) one might conclude that
>>>>     19,431 .nyc domain names are providing some level of content. But…
>>>>   * A February 21 Google search using the “Site:.nyc” command
>>>>     revealed only 458 websites. (Google reported a total of 940
>>>>     finds, a number consisting of both primary names and their
>>>>     duplicates.) We’re looking for an explanation for this discrepancy.
>>>>   * We looked at the first 100 of those 458 “Site:.nyc” sites and
>>>>     found 40% used the .nyc domain name to present content. The other
>>>>     60% merely linked to a .com or .org site.
>>>> In addition to these 72,103 sold names, 21,000 names have been
>>>> created but not allocated. The unallocated fall into three categories.
>>>>   * 800 Reserved Names
>>>>     <https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ZXMFe-C2PU6KIRPbZKfLkk63i2k5u7Uz2wDikqWPeZg/edit?usp=sharing>
>>>>     – Names set aside to serve the public’s benefit. Three fourths of
>>>>     these names are those of neighborhoods or Business Improvement
>>>>     Districts (BIDs), e.g., see 125thstreet.nyc
>>>>     <http://125thstreet.nyc>. Included also are some generic and
>>>>     category names, e.g., taxi.nyc, tours.nyc, and digital.nyc, about
>>>>     which we have more to say below.
>>>>   * 3,092 Premium Names
>>>>     <https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1qeEPuuPQ3MxzDtUjNpWZy5milRVISvt-4QqBmHRgENQ/edit?usp=sharing>
>>>>     – These names were set aside for distribution through high-bid
>>>>     auctions, scheduled to begin in early 2015. We’ve advocated for
>>>>     attaching Public Interest Commitments (PICs) to many of these
>>>>     names, believing social and economic equity and a stronger TLD
>>>>     will result. A recent panel report
>>>>     <http://www.connectingnyc.org/report-premium-nyc-domain-names-public-interest-commitments-12-18-2014/>
>>>>     detailed these recommendations.
>>>>   * 17,000 Collision Names
>>>>     <https://drive.google.com/open?id=1YYFOrvpZzwpb-gHHAzxBPhEa7etN6EiHomNASTSgH1A&authuser=0>
>>>>     – The “Collision” names were excluded from allocation pending a
>>>>     review of their impact on the operation of existing networks.
>>>>     Mayor.nyc and our own connecting.nyc are two of the good names
>>>>     stuck in this batch. The vast majority of collision names are of
>>>>     little consequence, but all are expected to become available in
>>>>     mid 2015.
>>>> While we have some statistics to guide our Traditional Metrics
>>>> evaluation, doing so for the Community-TLD perspective is a bit more
>>>> challenging.
>>>>       The Community View
>>>> Early in 2014 Mayor de Blasio announced that it had reserved nearly
>>>> 400 neighborhood names for development by entities representing the
>>>> public interest. And it created a path for their allocation – see
>>>> neighborhoods.nyc <http://neighborhoods.nyc>. We tested the proposed
>>>> allocation process recently by encouraging local civic entities to
>>>> apply for the JacksonHeights.nyc name. We chose Jackson Heights
>>>> because it represented the home team – we’re based there – and it has
>>>> a young entrepreneurial population engaged with tech.
>>>> The response was lukewarm at best. Only one organization indicated it
>>>> might take on the site’s development. And that commitment was on an
>>>> “as time allows” basis. Also, no existing organization matched the
>>>> proposed governance standard.
>>>> We concluded that if a suitable application was to be filed for
>>>> JacksonHeights.nyc, it would best be submitted by a new entity, one
>>>> having the website as its primary mission. And we concluded that the
>>>> neighborhood names might best be issued to contracted parties,
>>>> committed to the principals set out on neighborhoods.nyc, with
>>>> periodic reviews to establish compliance. A scenario of this sort
>>>> would require an investment for start up and oversight.
>>>> The adoption of a resident-focused nexus policy was another positive
>>>> action by de Blasio. Properly administered and enforced nexus can
>>>> foster a range of benefits from civic pride to security and economic
>>>> development. Our review of registrations revealed some questionable
>>>> registrant addresses and we look forward to the initiation of planned
>>>> random audits and for a public reporting of results.
>>>> A  key sign of community success will arrive when .nyc names are
>>>> being used to create new civic and business connections. Over the
>>>> last several months we’ve sought to understand who is registering the
>>>> domain names. Are names being registered to make new connections and
>>>> new markets? Are New Yorkers shifting their registrations to .nyc
>>>> from .com, .net, .org and other foreign TLDs? While we await a
>>>> sophisticated analysis, an associate has reviewed the daily log of
>>>> new registrants. The dominant impression is that registrations are
>>>> largely for generic names, as opposed to those of existing
>>>> businesses. Looked at in concert with the high rate of parked names,
>>>> this might indicate a multitude of speculative purchases. But one
>>>> might see a positive side to this: the names of existing businesses
>>>> are apparently not being squatted upon and remain available.
>>>>       Community Opportunities
>>>> One of the key benefits we foresaw for New Yorkers and visitors alike
>>>> was an intuitive Internet where our everyday language would be our
>>>> guide. Using the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811
>>>> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commissioners%27_Plan_of_1811> as
>>>> inspiration, we advanced the model of viewing .nyc as a digital grid
>>>> where ease-of-use and clarity would result from the thoughtful
>>>> allocation of names – bikes.nyc, bakeries.nyc, drugstores.nyc,
>>>> schools.nyc, etc. But the city opted for the speed and simplicity of
>>>> a Land Rush
>>>> <http://www.connectingnyc.org/the-nyc-landrush-auctions-adding-injury-to-insult/>
>>>> distribution process (first-come first-served), which released
>>>> thousands of intuitive names for unknown uses. The results are
>>>> trickling in.
>>>> Today, New Yorkers typing hardwarestores.nyc
>>>> <http://hardwarestores.nyc/> will be presented with the services
>>>> offered by a single locksmith, not an organized presentation of the
>>>> desired stores. They’ll need to sift through Google’s global results
>>>> to locate their local hardware store. The local hardware store will
>>>> need to pay Google if it hopes to be found there. And a job will not
>>>> be created for the local operator of hardwarestores.nyc. It’s a
>>>> lose-lose-lose situation for New York.
>>>> But there’s still an opportunity to foster an intuitive .nyc, where
>>>> language holds its traditional meaning. Within the 21,000 unallocated
>>>> Reserved, Premium, and Collision names the city can identify widely
>>>> understood names (words would be a better descriptive) and require
>>>> Public Interest Commitments (see our recommendations
>>>> <http://www.connectingnyc.org/report-premium-nyc-domain-names-public-interest-commitments-12-18-2014/>)
>>>> by the developers of these domain names.
>>>> If .nyc is to gain a reputation as a reliable and useful TLD – where
>>>> people are confident that typing a domain name will deliver the
>>>> desired result, names like pizza.nyc and hotels.nyc can’t simply
>>>> market traditional brands. That is, pizza.nyc can’t lead to Pizza Hut
>>>> and hotels.nyc can’t provide the choice of all the city’s Hilton
>>>> Hotels. This will be the likely consequence if a high bid auction
>>>> determiners development rights.
>>>> For .nyc to succeed these domain names need to aide residents and
>>>> visitors alike in learning about the history, variety, and depth of
>>>> our pizza and hospitality industries. This can only be achieved via
>>>> contractual Public Interest Commitments.
>>>> Additionally, Mayor de Blasio can select a few of the unallocated
>>>> names and provide those on the other side of the digital divide with
>>>> the opportunity to apply their entrepreneurial talents to developing
>>>> the .nyc TLD.
>>>>       Concerns
>>>> Since 2009, when the city announced its intent to acquire .nyc, there
>>>> have been few meaningful opportunities for public engagement in
>>>> .nyc’s planning and oversight process. Access was virtually
>>>> nonexistent during the Bloomberg years. Initially the de Blasio
>>>> Administration was more receptive to public engagement, indeed,
>>>> during 2014 a .NYC Community Advisory Board met on a monthly basis,
>>>> with two from our organization appointed as members. However, when
>>>> that Board ceased operating in December, public access to the
>>>> oversight process ceased.
>>>> The importance of governance and access was brought to mind recently
>>>> when we received an invitation to attend a Digital.nyc Five Borough
>>>> Tour
>>>> <http://www.digital.nyc/events/digital-dot-nyc-five-borough-tour-number-bronx>.
>>>> Curious about the event and its genesis we visited the digital.nyc
>>>> website where the sponsors were described:
>>>> Digital.NYC is the official online hub of the New York City startup
>>>> and technology ecosystem, bringing together every company, startup,
>>>> investor, event, job, class, blog, video, workspace, accelerator,
>>>> incubator, resource and organization in the five boroughs. It is the
>>>> result of a unique public/private partnership between the office of
>>>> Mayor Bill de Blasio, the New York City Economic Development
>>>> Corporation, IBM, Gust, and over a dozen leading NYC-based technology
>>>> and media companies.
>>>> Curious, we reviewed the Reserved Names and found digital.nyc listed.
>>>> Not having been privy to this development while on the Advisory
>>>> Board, we wondered about the process by which they had obtained the
>>>> domain name. With this in mind we recalled a recent conversation
>>>> predicting that fashion.nyc would be developed in a similar manner to
>>>> digital.nyc. Some research revealed fashion.nyc to be on the Premium
>>>> Names list and as having been registered to Neustar, the contractor
>>>> overseeing .nyc’s marketing and operation, last week.
>>>> Without transparency and a governance process, people may begin to
>>>> think the city’s TLD is being operated out of cigar box, or worse.
>>>> And with public trust central to its becoming a grid for our digital
>>>> resources, such perceptions can be highly detrimental.
>>>> City Hall needs to add transparency and accountability to the
>>>> operation of the .nyc TLD. And it needs a representative and
>>>> accessible governance process that informs the public about how
>>>> allocation decisions are made, for what purpose, and by whom. And we
>>>> need a process and timetable for evaluating these allocations of the
>>>> public’s resources.
>>>> Soap Box: Our view is that a thoughtfully developed TLD provides the
>>>> infrastructure for a secure local Internet. That upon that base one
>>>> can build privacy, identity, and community. And that these will speed
>>>> economic growth and the creation of a more prosperous and livable city.
>>>>       A Hollywood Ending
>>>> This review turned out to be far longer than we anticipated. Those
>>>> who’ve stuck with it to the end get 7 .nyc treats. Enjoy.
>>>>   * Archives.nyc <http://archives.nyc> – This site shows city
>>>>     information presented in an esthetically pleasing manner.
>>>>     Congratulations to the Municipal Archives.
>>>>   * MurdersIn.nyc <http://MurdersIn.nyc> – If we were giving awards
>>>>     this one would get the Bagel for creative use of a .nyc domain name.
>>>>   * Greenestreet.nyc <http://Greenestreet.nyc> – A wonderful
>>>>     presentation of the 400 year history of one small section of a
>>>>     city street. But we do have some qualms about ownership of this
>>>>     resource as detailed here
>>>>     <http://www.connectingnyc.org/of-master-plans-greenstreet-nyc/>.
>>>>   * Straphangers.nyc <http://Straphangers.nyc> – We love this
>>>>     organization and as one might expect its an early occupant of the
>>>>     .nyc domain.
>>>>   * Visualizing.nyc
>>>>     <http://visualizing.nyc/bus-riding-the-best-kept-secret-of-nyc-transit/>
>>>>     – Be patient while this one loads. For map lovers.
>>>>   * Mammamia.nyc <http://Mammamia.nyc> – Broadway’s first play to
>>>>     make it to the big time.
>>>>   * Prty.nyc <http://prty.nyc/sperm-visualizer/> – Dancing like
>>>>     you’ve never seen it before.
>>>> ____________________________________________________________
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>>> --
>>> Olivier MJ Crépin-Leblond, PhD
>>> http://www.gih.com/ocl.html
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