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Jackson Hts., New York, February 22, 2014 - When AOL bought Time-Warner in 2000, New York City recognized that a fundamental basis for the city’s awarding the franchise to Time-Warner Cable was being violated: Local ownership was being stripped away, with the city’s cable services  henceforth to be controlled by corporate interests in Virginia.

Luckily the city franchise agreement required city hall’s approval for an ownership transfer, and DoITT’s Commissioner Allan Dobrin negotiated for the provision of a competitive Internet Service Provider (ISP) in exchange for the city’s OK. And thanks to the Commissioner’s eagle eye New Yorkers using Time-Warner Cable now can choose from two ISPs, Time-Warner’s Roadrunner and service from Earthlink. 

Now, a decade later, a challenge to local ownership has arisen from Philadelphia based Comcast. But the 2010 franchise agreement the city negotiated with Time-Warner (long ago separated from AOL) allows for ownership transfer if consummated via the exchange of publicly traded shares (thank Mayor Bloomberg for this). New Yorkers with cable complaints can now take Amtrack to Philadelphia. (Image courtesy of Teamcoco.)

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

Filed February 22nd, 2014 under Rant

dozen-smile.pngJackson Hts., New York, February 21, 2014 - With the de Blasio Administration reviewing the city’s approach to the .nyc TLD, today we reviewed the Towards City-TLDs In The Public Interest White Paper prepared by Dr. Michael Gurstein and our founding director in 2007 and thought it worthwhile that we promote its findings once again. 

The White Paper detailed 12 advantages that would arise from a thoughtfully planned and executed TLD development plan. While the intervening 7 years revealed other benefits, the original advantages constitute the bulk of the advantages we might anticipate. Here they are:

NOTE: In the following GC-TLD refers to a Global City TLD.

  • Good Domain Names - If issued equitably and at affordable rates, a public interest GC-TLD will facilitate the fundamental benefit that derives from a new TLD, that is, good names, those that are short, descriptive, and memorable.
  • Equitable Distribution of Domain Names – A public interest GC-TLD can establish allocation policies that avoid pitfalls such as hoarding and typo-squatting. Policy decisions can be made on price and nexus requirements (a legal term indicating a required city connection such as a residency or operating a business), and can reserve domain names for unbiased public interest directories, government, civic, and issue usage.
  • Affordable Domain Names – By eliminating the profit requirement, public interest GC-TLDs can keep prices low and set rates that maximize community benefit. It can provide affordable names for the young entering the business world, for the community and civic worlds, for recent immigrants, small businesses, and for use in the public realm. Where appropriate and feasible, a GC-TLD operated in the public interest can provide free names to individuals, organizations, start-ups, etc.
  • Name Set-Asides - With an improved community a key part of its mission, a public interest GC-TLD can set aside second level names for neighborhoods or civic benefit activities and issues, e.g., “www.elections.nyc” or “www.sante.paris” Also, it can experiment with allocation plans that facilitate shared name usage for civic, community, and issues. e.g., developing a reusable public access name bank that facilitates a time-based allocation of names like “www.save-the-tree.nyc.”
  • The New Proximity – While the Internet excels by connecting on a global scale, a public interest GC-TLD can establish discussion, issue, geographic, and opportunity name spaces where residents can locate one another. Combining the Internet’s global reach and local face-to-face contacts will optimize the exchange of ideas and revivify the traditional role of cities.
  • Civic Tools for Collaboration – The New Proximity will be facilitated by making available public access civic tools such as calendars, maps, listserves, polling, and organizers. These may be adapted from those currently providing web widgets such as Google or custom developed if needed.
  • More Secure Experience – With a focus on a limited and fixed geographic area, a nexus requirement for acquiring a city domain name (i.e., a demonstrated residency or business interest in the city), and working in close cooperation with the extant institutions, public interest GC-TLD operators can approximate the expectation and experience found with TLDs such as .gov and .edu.
  • Unbiased Directories – A public interest TLD can create directories of selected second level domain names like www.hotels.nyc and www.schools.nyc, making city resources far more accessible. For example, a carefully designed and managed www.hotels.nyc directory would provide global access to a small directory page presenting the city’s hotels using alpha and geographic links to sites of the hotel’s choice. Or a directory might make a city’s schools accessible by organizing them by public vs. private, and primary, secondary, and university.
  • Intuitive Design - A well planned and organized TLD will be intuitive and provide confidence that “guesses” will be effective. For example, today one might imagine success by directly entering www.ibm.com or www.coke.com into a browsers address space. With a fresh GC-TLD name space residents might presume that the entry www.jacquescafe.paris would reach its target. Intuitive design will also play a role in encouraging directory searches of the likes of www.bookstores.london or www.restaurants.nyc.
  • Search Engine Transparency – Whether one is searching for a hotel or issues surrounding a local election, the trustworthiness of the responses is vital. Developers of GC-TLDs will find advantage by presenting search engines with transparent heuristics.
  • Identity – While any city-TLD will say for example, Made in Berlin or From Mumbai, a GC-TLD operated in the public interest will assure the long term preservation of the TLD as a symbol of a city’s character. And with public participation in its design and development, it will provide that point of civic pride around which a population will rally to protect its brand.
  • Shrink Digital Divide – A public interest GC-TLD could (and should be expected to) commit a portion of funds received from name sales and other sources to facilitate the provision of civic collaboration tools, education, training and eradicating digital divides.

 Read the White Paper here. Commons image courtesy of  J. Star.

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

Filed February 21st, 2014 under .NYC Advisory Board, Oversight, Governance

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