General-Update-b.pngNovember 23, 2013

Hello All,

First, note that next week’s regular Thursday meeting falls on Thanksgiving and is cancelled. December 5th is our next Open Board Meeting.  (For those of you who’ve not been following closely, our weekly meetings are Google Hangouts.)

Good news arrived in author and activist David Bollier’s post The Silent Giveaway of New York City’s Internet Domain: Will De Blasio  Step Up? summarizing the many commons features of the .nyc TLD and urging Mayor-elect de Blasio to examine the possibilities. Here’s a sample:

It is unclear if Mayor De Blasio cares enough about this issue (or understands its implications sufficiently) to intervene.  Does he understand how this seemingly arcane technical matter will have enormous, far-reaching implications for the future of the city?  Does he and his staff appreciate how the .nyc TLD could be a rich tool for empowering the City’s 352 neighborhoods and helping people around the world to interact more intelligibly with the City’s people and resources?

Then, if you missed it, take a look at our Hope.nyc? post (below). It discusses the status of the .nyc TLD application before ICANN. It’s a somewhat bleak report. But several other recent developments might be of interest and cumulatively are good news (in an algebraic, two minuses equal a plus kind of way.)

  • Ken Hanson, the contractor’s lead employee for .nyc, has departed NeuStar for sunnier grounds. The .NYC Advisory Board heard from Ken at its second meeting. He is temporarily being replaced with his boss, Jeff Neuman. I’ve met Jeff on several occasions and he’s competent fellow. But he runs NeuStar’s Registry Team that is managing 300+ TLD applications - one of which is ours. It would be good if Ken’s replacement was a New Yorker, familiar with the needs of our city. (Maybe there’s a job there for a departing Bloomberger or one of our supporters. Contact Jeff Neuman if interested.)
  • At our second meeting Ken reported on a Collision Report about names that are used multiple times within the DNS (domain name system) and may not be used until cleared via an ICANN review. The report listed 17,539 .nyc domain names. While the vast majority of these are of little consequence, some are important to the effective operation of our city, for example, mayor.nyc, council.nyc, youth.nyc, and restaurants.nyc.
  • Because of the Rights Protection Mechanism - developed to protect the rights of Trademark holders - the city will need an “Approved Launch Program” prior to activating .nyc. This program will need to explain that our use of mayor.nyc is vital to our city’s operation, and that we will not use the domain name to sell cigars (the trademark holder for “mayor” is a cigar company). Same for the Corona neighborhood vs. Corona the beer. And on and on. Perhaps a hackathon and/or some social collaboration software might have a role here. Ideas welcome.
  • But there’s good news too. I’ve met with fellow .NYC Advisory Board member Seth Taylor and we’re working toward a “clean” list of domain names for the 100 or so businesses within the 82nd Street Partnership, the BID where Seth’s serves as Executive Director. We’ll look to address problems such as ineligible characters, e.g., spaces and &, and corporate vs. trade names. We hope to work this pilot list through the .nyc/ICANN review processes and spread the experience to the city’s other 80+ BIDs.

Have a great Thanksgiving and hope to see you at our December 5th Hangout. (Oh yes, and apologies for the Generally lame joke.)

Tom Lowenhaupt, Director

Learn more about the opportunities provided by the .nyc TLD on our wiki pages.

city-hall-sad-2.0.png

Jackson Hts., New York, November 5, 2013 - The Bloomberg Administration’s .NYC Advisory Board held it’s third meeting on October 17th. Advisory Board member Thomas Lowenhaupt recently released a meeting report anticipating an uninspired future for the .nyc Top Level Domain (see report). The following comments on several key reports from the meeting.  

Nexus

If there was any good news it was a smidgen of progress on the nexus issue - the requirement that those using .nyc domain names be connected to the city in some meaningful way. Registrants of a .nyc domain name will now need to “authenticate” their nexus by including a city zip code in their domain name application. While this is an improvement, its deterrence effect on squatters and speculators might be minimal as applicants without a legitimate New York address (the nexus) will be able to do a simple Google search, e.g., zip nyc, copy one of the many zip codes into the application, and bingo, they own a part of New York City. 

But even here there was giveback by the city. The contractor argued that the zip code requirement will reduce the number of registrants - and its revenue - and thus alternative compensation was warranted. The city agreed and will compensate the contractor with additional premium names - high value names such as hotels.nyc, tours.nyc, news.nyc - that the contractor can auction off, keeping 60% of the revenue.

As to the Advisory Board’s suggestion that a valid street address also be required, the city said it is negotiating for this, but did not express a “nothing less” attitude. And even if it achieves success here, there’s still no acknowledgement that enforcement needs to be beefed up. As it stands, the contractor will not review any applications prior to registration, only doing a post registration audit of 50 or so registrations per week. With 25,000 names expected to be registered on the first day, this seems ineffective at best.

Traditional and Intuitive Names

There was only bad news when it came to maintaining access to our existing government, business, civic, and portal names. ICANN, ignorant still of the needs of cities, issued a new Rights Protection Mechanism providing the city with the ability to reserve 100 domain names “for the purposes of promoting the TLD.” So the city’s 352 neighborhood names will be made available to those with the swiftest Internet connection, not to responsible residents from neighborhoods around the city. Small businesses will face the prospect of having their treasured names ransomed back to them by sharp eyed speculators. And intuitive names such as arts.nyc, BeautyParlors.nyc, hardware.nyc, libraries.nyc and LittleLeague.nyc will go to insiders, with no concomitant need to provide local content, foster civic responsibility, or help build a city-friendly Internet.

Stumbling To Finish Line

While the Nexus and Names policies remain defective, and with a multitude of opportunities proffered by a city-TLD in need of evaluation and perhaps development, the administration is forging ahead seeking to chalk up another “success” before January 1. There’s to be something called a “Listening Session” that sounds more like promotion than 21st century public engagement. And the administration is producing a Public Service Announcement to be shown in taxis to hype the sale of .nyc domain names.

Asked about plans to move the nyc.gov website to the new TLD, the administration’s spokesperson responded, “That’s a decision for the new administration.” But if city government is not sold on moving to the new TLD, why would anyone else? What does .nyc offer that’s different from the 1,000 other new TLDs that will come online in the next year? Sadly the answer seems to be nothing. Rolled out as is, we’ll not have a guiding framework like the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 which mapped Manhattan’s street grid. Instead of a thoughtfully organized digital grid, .nyc will bring a chaotic mean-streets, a digital reincarnation of the 1980’s Times Square.

Hope.nyc

As mayor-elect de Blasio takes the pulse of the city, we hope he looks afresh at the opportunities a thoughtfully planned and developed .nyc TLD offers both for government administration and the city’s businesses, organizations, residents and visitors. And that he engages the public in an inclusive planning process.

Filed November 4th, 2013 under .NYC Advisory Board, Civics, Governance

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