nyc-grassroots-media-2008-flipped.jpgI learned a lot today at the 5th Grassroots Media Conference at Hunter College where I led a workshop entitled “A Platform for Community Media. ” The lessons came from participants grilling me on the methods I advanced for allocating .nyc domain names.

By way of background, the stated mission of the Grassroots Media Coalition includes:

“The coalition will work to create both physical and virtual spaces where local media makers are accountable to and inclusive of the diverse communities of New York City, and provide spaces for organizations, artists and individuals to share experiences and resources, collectively develop projects and avoid duplicating efforts.”

The presentation about .nyc and its utility to the grassroots was going smoothly until I started presenting historic allocation processes for distributing names for newly minted TLDs and the lessons we’d drawn for these “learning experiences.” The first challenge came from Will who wanted to know why we were prepared to roll over and give names like www.americanexpress.nyc to trademark holders. After a brief back ‘n forth I think he agreed that, with our limited resources to challenge the status quo and the consequent delay in activating .nyc, it might be acceptable for us to kowtow in this instance.

I resumed sailing through my 124 slide presentation until I again touched on another aspect of our proposed domain name allocation plan (DNAP), the assumption that we’d use auctions as part of the process. Will, joined by Liza, objected that this method unfairly advantaged the haves and that lotteries or comparative value might be alternative means for “sharing the wealth”. We were lucky at that point to draw upon the expertise of Antony Van Couvering, who advised on negative experiences from previous lotteries and the potential for endless delay in activating .nyc that might result from comparative value. After agreeing to keep an open mind and look for an improved share the wealth methodology, the participants allowed me to move on.

But before I could do so, Liza suggested that one method to achieve more equity in the distribution process might be by assuring broad awareness throughout all communities as to the opportunities provided by the new TLD, and educating the public on ways to participate in the TLD allocation process. With our charter as an educational organization, I readily agreed that much merit could be found in this suggestion. At workshop’s end, Liza provided a list of organizations that have experience eliciting community opinion on media matters: PrometheusRadio.org, Mnn.org, and wbai.org.

Bottom up, worked for me.

Filed March 2nd, 2008 under Domain Names, Governance

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