June 26, 2008

Internet disorder and its possibilities

The shady powers that control the world wide web have announced that everything you now know about the internet is about to change. Top level domains, or TLDs, are things such as .com, .org., .us and so on. Some are descriptive ? .com, commercial; .edu, education ? and others are geographical ? .ca, Canada; .de, Germany ? while still more are both ? .com.au, commercial & Australian; .ac.uk, academic & British.

Now that you have gotten used to them all, ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) have decided to open the floodgates and are planning to allow almost anything to be a TLD. Veteran ICANN-watchers will not be terribly surprised by this, as the consortium has tended towards greater laxity and disorder. First they introduced “.info”, extending TLDs to four letters straight, then they introduced the horrendously unhandsome “.museum” (would not “.mus” have been more sensible?). The do-gooders over at ICANN have now simply thrown up their hands and said “Feck it all, sort yourselves out”.

Libertarians will, no doubt, rejoice, but I think there was a certain harmony and order to the current (soon to be previous) set-up. The stalwart .com, the stately .co.uk, the exotic .co.za, the “we weren’t quick enough to get a .com address” .net, the slightly suspicious .cn ? all these will stay, but they will be diminished by the addition of God knows what. Perhaps .sex, or .drugs, or .rocknroll. Maybe we will see the heralds of progress change their URLs: weeklystandard.neo and thenation.lib? How about johnmccain.war and obama.tax? The ever-fading National Review might try to recall its better days with nationalreview.wfb.

And what about we conservatives? There is at least some comfort for Knickerbocker reactionaries like me in that we may one day have email addresses that end in @yahoo.nn (for New Netherland), and I know of at least a dozen Europeans who would love to have to have @yahoo.sri addresses (that’s Sacrum Romanum Imperium, not Sri Lanka). I just hope the good people of Newfoundland grab .nfl before the football people do.

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