Things are going to get ".wild" | npENGAGE

Things are going to get “.wild”

By on Jul 8, 2011 | NONPROFIT-FUNDRAISING

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So who do you think is going to own the new “.wild” domain next year, when anyone with cash can buy a brand new “vanity” domain? Will it be a consortium of environmental  conservation and wildlife groups? Or the purveyors of barely-legal videos, of the “girls gone…” ilk?  Cyber-squatters, suit up – it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN – what, nobody took the time to fix an acronymn that would end up as ICANDY??) says that when they start accepting applications for new domains in January of 2012, they’ll be ushering in “the next generation of creativity and inspiration.” So I was feeling creative and started considering some options, and wondering who’d get them:

Consider domains like:

  • “.planet”, “.green”, (even “.verde”?)
  • “.health”, “.heart”, “.cure”
  • “.kids”, “.youth”,  “.empower”,
  • “.school”, “.hungry”, “.learn”
  • “.dogs,” “.cats” (cute kitty says “i can haz domane now?”)
  • “.cause”, “.help”, “.give”

“Large businesses may have to buy addresses to keep their brands from being hijacked,” according to Pavel Alpeyev and Ketaki Gokhale of Bloomberg News, who put the price somewhere north of $100,000, with so-called “generic” domains being auctioned off to the highest bidder.  The only way nonprofits could participate, I’d bet, would be to band together, picking off “.equal,” for instance. Call me a cynic, but I don’t see anyone talking about reserving domains like “.donate” for organizations that can show societal benefits of a non-cash kind. (All sorts of arguments from “Uncharitable” are now springing to mind. Sigh.)

Now anyone who’s an adventurous theater patron & has gone to see Avenue Q (think Sesame Street for mature audiences) knows what the internet is for. And thus, of course, was born the “.xxx” domain earlier this year. Because there just wasn’t enough brand consistency for adult-content websites, out in the noise of the 90 million “.com” sites? (Somehow I’m not buying that my sons won’t stumble across adults-only content on the web because of this “partition.”) Anyway, I get that the interwebs were always going to change & grow & mutate. It’s just that, once again, I worry that nonprofits – many still adjusting to managing a website & getting it to perform for their mission at all – will be last to the table, picking up scraps.

What is this going to mean for the 8.3 million “.org” groups out there? It’s a thing that makes me go “hmmm.” I have to ask myself: are charities going to have second-rate addresses in the brave new cyberworld? My personal opinion (yes, this is just my own, personal gut instinct as a consumer, not based on research) is that websites with “.net” (13.5 million), “.info” (6 million) and “.biz” (2 million) addresses are just, kind-of, (shrug) dubious. [Oh, and I heard someone on Brooke Gladstone’s “On the Media” describe them as “low-rent districts.”] They’re like “also-ran” contenders in the evolutionary race. What, they didn’t think the interwebs would be all that? Or they couldn’t bother to do some homework before starting a new business? Or they’re just not that creative or relevant?

When am I going to see the first “.nike” advertisement, I wonder? Or “.energy,” (brought to you by which trade group?)? The International Trademark Association says this development will be a “significant marketing challenge.”

I’m guessing it will feel like more like parenting and less like an earthquake, in that things will go along – feeling steady – and then suddenly nothing will work quite like it used to, because the people you thought you knew just start acting differently over time, wanting different things, not responding as they once would. New, unexpected things will motivate them. Hopefully nobody ends up estranged. ; )

It could also be the kind of blue-sky opportunity that’s bigger than all of us. Who’s going to go get “.earth,” and shape that domain to serve us all?

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