[At-Large] On a "consumer" agenda for ICANN

John R. Levine johnl at iecc.com
Fri Sep 2 16:08:44 UTC 2016

> ICANN maintains oblivion from this reality by refusing to measure the
> extent of this withdrawal in the context of "Consumer Choice".

That's not very surprising.  ICANN exists in its current form mostly 
because some people wrongly assumed in the mid 1990s that Internet users 
would use the DNS as a directory.  At the time it wasn't quite obvious 
that they were wrong since manual directories like Yahoo couldn't keep up 
search engines like Altavista returned too many irrelevant results, and a 
casual change by someone at Netscape to turn a bare word in the address 
bar into word.com set off a neverending race to squat on those words.

But as soon as Google started using pagerank to score the results, the 
contest was over and search engines won.  The only TLD that ever tried to 
be a directory was MUSEUM, and nobody even noticed.

Unfortunately by that time ICANN had already promised to provide 
"competetition" from new TLDs.  That has completely failed, since nearly 
everyone still uses .com, .org, and their national ccTLD.  Vanity domains 
like .apple look like they may be useful for branding, but the rest are 
just for speculation and collecting rent from over-cautious trademark 

So I agree with Evan that the DNS is not very important to consumers, and 
the main thing we can do is to remind ICANN that its main job is to keep 
the DNS stable, not to make domain speculators happy.


PS: Imagine if Google had showed up three years earlier, and it was 
obvious in 1998 that TLDs don't matter.

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