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Jackson Hts., New York, May 4, 2012 - The city has committed to making the .nyc TLD a reality and the wheels of government are starting to turn. Our attention is returning to the neighborhood domain names - Astoria.nyc, Chelsea.nyc, BrooklynHeights.nyc, etc. - and how they are developed.

We’ve several wiki pages on our dotNeighborhoods initiative, one of which links to an informative Case Study by the Hunter College Graduate School of Urban Affairs. As well, we’ve an ongoing research collaboration with the New York Internet Society and Wikimedia-NY, see NYCwiki.org.

On Thursday, May 17, 6-8 PM, we’re meeting at the Neighborhood Preservation Center to scrutinize our musings and move toward engaging neighborhood activists city-wide and creating a viable governance and business model for the neighborhood name-set. The Center is at 232 E. 11th St, New York, NY (map). The draft agenda is available. Register or email your intention to attend to info@connectingnyc.org.

notes-from-DoITT-visit-on-NeuStar-contract-b.jpgJackson Hts., New York, March 22, 2012 - I’ve got to start with a gripe. I was forced to spend the morning at DoITT’s office at 75 Park Place looking at the parts of the proposed contract for the .nyc TLD that have been completed. Forced because they refused to email me a copy. Also, I was forced to make hand notes - see picture - because they wouldn’t allow me to take pictures with my cell. Why? It’s a draft document and not complete. (Perhaps a reason they shouldn’t be having a hearing on a incomplete document!)

Separately I was informed that the one public hearing - Friday, 2 PM at 2 Metrotech Center, 4th Floor, Brooklyn - meets the letter of the law, and that’s probably true. But clearly it’s not the spirit of the law. It’s an odious situation. And with the mayor and his staff quoted in this morning’s New York Times as saying he’s opposed to the “daily referendum” of social media and that people should focus on long term planning - OMFG.

OK, got that off my chest. So what did I learn from my 2 hours at DoITT? I can say I was at some points pleased, for example, in its handling of the Nexus question. But even here close scrutiny is required and was not possible as I was relegated to a noise lunchroom to view the materials. (OK, last gripe, promise.)

But vital pieces had not yet been completed, for example, Appendixes F and G dealing with reserved domain names. G deals with “names reserved for marketing and business development.” Is that the neighborhood names? How is it possible to testify on that?

I didn’t see anything about creating a sustainable TLD. There was nothing about how the funds, from auctions of some names, were to be used: to help small business? for education/training? moderate the digital divide? - not a word. At least none that I was able to find in the lunch room. (Fact, not gripe.)

I asked about the contract development process: Was an independent industry expert brought in to advise the city? No. So apparently the proposed contractor, and the overworked city employee drafting the contract, worked out (or rather, are working out) the details.

I’ll be in Brooklyn tomorrow at the “public hearing” (first announced on the last page of Tuesday’s City Record, an arcane insider paper). Hope to see some supporters of good government and long term planning at 2 Metrotech Center, 4th Floor, at 2 PM tomorrow. The A,C, F, and R trains will take you there.

UPDATE: See details on the city’s application for the .nyc TLD as submitted to ICANN and its contract with vendor NeuStar here.

Learn more about The Campaign for .nyc on our wiki pages.

City-Hall.JPG Jackson Hts., New York, March 15, 2012 - With city government having decided to submit an application for the .nyc TLD without any prior public consultation - either by the administration or the city council - the below looks at 2 of the 50 questions it will be answering in that application, and raises some questions. (See the New TLD Guidebook for all 50 questions.) 

A city official has stated,

“Once the City is awarded [.nyc], we’ll fully develop all applicable policies concerning name acquisition on the TLD. We plan to gather feedback from stakeholders across the city as part of that process.”

So here we offer a helping hand, examining two of the questions it must answer [ with our questions and thoughts in brackets ]. As you’ll see, the answers to ICANN’s questions will frame our city’s digital existence. We’re keeping our fingers crossed and hoping that effective outreach is ultimately conducted and that answers submitted in April do not bind the city to a digital doghouse.

 #18. Mission/Purpose

18. (a) Describe the mission/purpose of your proposed gTLD [ This is the pivotal question, is it: To improve the quality of life for residents? To create a robust business climate? To facilitate improved delivery of government services? To create a more programmer-friendly city? To facilitate civic communication? To enable the creation of a self governing culture using the latest digital tools? To foster local Net businesses and keep Internet revenue here? To raise money by selling domain names? … ]

(b) How do you expect that your proposed gTLD will benefit registrants [ people who acquire a .nyc domain name ], Internet users [ everyone and anyone using the Internet ], and others [ non-Internet users, tourists, pedestrians, bikers, etc. ]? Answers should address the following points:

i. What is the goal of your proposed gTLD in terms of areas of specialty, service levels, or reputation? [ Answers here depend on the response to #18. (a) - Mission/Purpose. But one answer might be “To create a trusted digital space where the people of the world feel they can safely conduct business.” ]

ii. What do you anticipate your proposed gTLD will add to the current space, in terms of competition, differentiation, or innovation? [ Will it put us on a par or exceed the offerings of other global cities? Are there privacy or security offerings that will make .nyc a trusted TLD, where businesses will move to from a wild and insecure .com world? ]

iii. What goals does your proposed gTLD have in terms of user experience? [ For example, are help and emergency buttons going to be provided and required - 311 and 911? Will it embrace the Internet of Things, and create a pedestrian-friendly city? Will it have public spaces such as the parks, streets, and sidewalks in the traditional city? ]

iv. Provide a complete description of the applicant’s intended registration policies in support of the goals listed above. [ How is this question answered if public outreach is to be done after submitting the application? ]

v. Will your proposed gTLD impose any measures for protecting the privacy or confidential information of registrants or users? If so, please describe any such  measures. [ Are there measures to facilitate anonymous but responsible speech? And what about security? ]

vi. Describe whether and in what ways outreach and communications will help to achieve your projected benefits. [ We’d hope to see an answer pointing to our city’s democratic ideals and an intent to fully explore the potentials of a city-TLD, educate the public as to the options, and use consensus tools to set a policy and path. ]

(c) What operating rules will you adopt to eliminate or minimize social costs (e.g., time or financial resource costs, as well as various types of consumer vulnerabilities)? [ Will the city’s Consumer Affairs Department work to protect the registrants of .nyc domain names? ] What other steps will you take to minimize negative consequences/costs imposed upon consumers?  [ Will the city encourage the development of free or inexpensive 3rd level domain names for civic organizations, schools, churches, local businesses? ] Answers should address the following points:

i. How will multiple applications for a particular domain name be resolved, for example, by auction or on a first-come/ firstserve basis? [ So party #1 wants news.nyc for a collaborative news service to which New Yorkers contribute on a peer-rated basis. And party #2 wants news.nyc as an outlet for Associated Press and New Corporation stories. What is the process for deciding? ]  Or [ Party #1 wants Corona.nyc to build a collaborative publishing and decision making hub serving the 55,000 residents of the Corona neighborhood. And party #2 wants Corona.nyc to help it sell beer. What is the process for deciding? ]

ii. Explain any cost benefits for registrants you intend to implement (e.g., advantageous pricing, introductory discounts, bulk registration discounts).[ Do civic organizations, neighborhoods, schools, and churches pay the same rate as multinational corporations? Will there be free third level civic domain names, e.g., fix-that-light.civic.nyc? What about subsidized domain names that facilitate electoral speech? ]

iii. Note that the Registry Agreement requires that registrars [ registrars are the retailers of domain names, for example, GoDaddy.com ] be offered the option to obtain initial domain name registrations for periods of one to ten years at the discretion of the registrar, but no greater than ten years. Additionally, the Registry Agreement requires advance written notice of price increases. Do you intend to make contractual commitments to registrants regarding the magnitude of price escalation? [ So can GoDaddy.com sell a name for a discounted $9.99 and raise the price to $99.99 in year 2? ] If so, please describe your plans.

#20.

20. (a) Provide the name and full description of the community that the applicant is committing to serve. … The name of the community does not have to be formally adopted for the application to be designated as community-based. [ Does .nyc serve just the five boroughs or is it a force for regionalization? See our Regional Consolidation and Nexus pages on this.]

Descriptions should include: • How the community is delineated from Internet users generally. [ Is the .nyc TLD a rallying point for the New York City community, as a civic entity focused on the creation of a more livable city? ] Such descriptions may include, but are not limited to, the following: membership, registration, or licensing processes, operation in a particular industry, use of a language. • How the community is structured and organized. For a community consisting of an alliance of groups, details about the constituent parts are required. • When the community was established, including the date(s) of formal organization, if any, as well as a description of community activities to date. • The current estimated size of the community, both as to membership and geographic extent.

(b) Explain the applicant’s relationship to the community identified in #20(a) [ This a very revealing question as it shows that ICANN thinks there’s little difference between .paris, .newyork, and .banjo or .car ] .

Explanations should clearly state: • Relations to any community organizations. • Relations to the community and its constituent parts/groups. • Accountability mechanisms of the applicant to the community.

(c) Provide a description of the community-based purpose of the applied-for gTLD.  [ Dear ICANN, we’ve not spoken to the community yet. We’ll get back to you on this. Sincerely, The City of New York. ]

Descriptions should include: • Intended registrants in the TLD. [ Residents, small businesses, anybody with the cash? ] • Intended end-users of the TLD. • Related activities the applicant has carried out or intends to carry out in service of this purpose. [ With the “intends” there the city can provide an extended answer to this question, I suppose. ] • Explanation of how the purpose is of a lasting nature. [ Will the city “recycle” names and make good names available for generations to come? See our page on a sustainable TLD for some insight on this one. ]

(d) Explain the relationship between the applied for gTLD string and the community identified in #20(a). [ If it’s .nyc, will there be a New York State sponsored TLD servicing the likes of NiagraFalls.newyork? Casinos.newyork? ]

Explanations should clearly state: • relationship to the established name, if any, of the community. • relationship to the identification of community members. • any connotations the string may have beyond the community.

(e) Provide a complete description of the applicant’s intended registration policies in support of the community-based purpose of the applied-for gTLD. Policies and enforcement mechanisms are expected to constitute a coherent set. [ Based on the Mission/Purpose ]

Descriptions should include proposed policies, if any, on the following: • Eligibility: who is eligible to register a second-level name in the gTLD, and how will eligibility be determined. [ See our Nexus page for background. ] • Name selection: what types of second-level names may be registered in the gTLD. • Content/Use: what restrictions, if any, the registry operator will impose on how a registrant may use its registered name. [ Can a .nyc domain name serve as the basis of a non-New York business? If a business, must it follow New York’s Consumer laws? ] • Enforcement: what investigation practices and mechanisms exist to enforce the policies above, what resources are allocated for enforcement, and what appeal mechanisms are available to registrants. [ Will the city’s existing agencies be tied into the operation of the .nyc TLD? ]

Learn more about The Campaign for .nyc on our wiki pages.

god-from-sistine-chappel.0.jpgJackson Hts., New York, February 12, 2012 - We  first took note of the commons in 2007 when star intern Matt Cooperrider suggested that we include “the commons” in our musings about New York’s TLD. While our early explorations were less than bold, our engagement was emboldened in 2009 when Elinor Ostrom won the Nobel Prize in Economics for her work on managing common pool resources. (See the Common Pool Resource chapter on our wiki.)

And when commons expert David Bollier suggested during an October 2011 interview that city-TLDs could be the newest commons, serving as “open greenfields for new local governance structures,” our interest spiked and we sought ways to engage a broader public in our evaluation.

That opportunity will arise this coming week at Making Worlds: A Forum on the Commons, a 3 day event that begins Thursday in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. We’re proud to report we had a role in organizing this opportunity for all to learn about the commons and the possible role a thoughtfully developed commons might play in creating a more livable, just, and sustainable world.

While we expect the entire Forum to be illuminating, we’re especially looking forward to Saturday’s 5-7 PM workshop Nurturing the Commons, New and Old. The workshop will look at ways a city-TLD can facilitate “new local governance structures” and how the management and governance lessons provided by the likes of Elinor Ostrom can assist in their realization. (See Making Worlds program.)

Making Worlds is a working conference with food provided to all participants courtesy of Occupy Wall Street. Join us in a most exciting event. (Photo courtesy of Michelangelo and Wikimedia Commons.) 

[See Connecting.nyc Inc.’s director Thomas Lowenhaupt’s presentation on SlideShare. And read David Bollier’s report on the event.]

Learn more about The Campaign for .nyc on our wiki pages.

wink-with-scarf-and-Ed-Westley.jpg

Jackson Hts., New York, January 23, 2012 - Wink the Penguin is back. After mysteriously vanishing in January 2009, Wink is back atop the boulder on which he stood for 14 years at the intersection of 75th Street and 37th Road, in the Jackson Hts. neighborhood of New York City - home of our corporate HQ.

A global search and retrieve effort by local residents, civic groups, and the Linux community is credited with the return. However, the entire episode remains a mystery: the perpetrators of the chicknapping, his location during the interregnum, and the time and means of his re-installation remain unknowns.

Locally, the search included officials at the Police, Parks, and Transportation Departments, and then Council Member Helen Sears. (See search results.) Others with local and global connections were brought in to help secure Wink’s return. The Jackson Heights Beautification Group (JHBG), the premier local civic organization, when appraised of the apparent chicknapping, plastered the neighborhood with fliers requesting help.

Additionally we reached out to the Linux community, developers of the Linux operating system, with Tux Linux-Tux-small.JPG the  penguin its mascot, asking that they monitor online channels to help resolve Wink’s whereabouts. The basis for Wink’s return remains a mystery - local posters, global internet, or perhaps Wink just wanted to explore the city - but when Wink returned in February 2010, we and the entire Jackson Hts. neighborhood rejoiced and offered thanks to all who helped enable his return.

Recently, in the bitter cold of a snowy January day, a local resident adorned the neighborhood’s beloved Wink in a custom knitted red and white hat and scarf. The photo at right shows Ed Westly, president of the JHGB, with Wink safely back atop his boulder and in his new garb. (Commons photo courtesy the CnI Library. More on Wink.) 

Learn more about The Campaign for .nyc on our wiki pages.

Commons-first-meeting-in-Atrium-OWS.jpgThe Atrium, 60 Wall Street, New York City, November 28, 2011 - At the first face to face meeting of Occupy Wall Street’s Campaign for the Commons working group, several suggestions were made. Noting that much of the activity of OWS was supportive of various commons - open source, Internet, civic engagement, and the use of public spaces - there was a suggestion that a broader understanding of the role the commons play in our society would benefit all, and that a teach-in might be an appropriate next step

Additionally, I brought up the prospect that “commonly” organized city-TLDs might serve as a goal of Occupy movements world-wide. 

Another meeting was scheduled for Monday, December 5, 2011, 5:30- 7:30 at the Atrium. See the detailed notice here.

About that “commons” sign in the photo, above: Our first attempt to hold a Commons meeting in the Atrium was met with locked doors, perhaps for fear that the November 17 Day of Action might mar the Public-Private facility. When we returned on the 28th, we were met with new rules posted on the wall, one of which was “no signs.” How were people to find us in the massive Atrium? Luckily I’d just started a new “Commons Man” line of clothing :). The first iteration of the clothing line is shown with the Commons logo on the back of my jacket. Hung on the chair, people found our table. (Commons photo courtesy of the Connecting.nyc Inc. library.)

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

Filed December 3rd, 2011 under Common Pool Resource­­­­, City-TLDs

November 13, 2011 - With the world more topsy-turvy than usual, one must wonder about the proper oversight and standards that should guide a  city-TLD. Recently we were struck by the Occupy Wall Street movement and the growing recognition of the role the commons play in our everyday lives. Today we heard this ballad by a young Hawaiian, Mankana - http://bit.ly/we-are-the-many - and wondered about the world we’re in and the one in which our children and theirs will live.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

David-Bollier-at-Hangout-10-20-11.jpgJackson Hts., New York, October 20, 2011 - It’s been suggested that city-TLDs, such as .nyc, .london, .mumbai, and .paris, are “open greenfields for new local governance structures.” And that they would most effectively serve the public interest if developed as digital commons. 

To explore the idea we invited David Bollier (http://bollier.org/) an important voice for the commons to our October 20 Tea & TLDs roundtable to help imagine a governance structure that best assures a city-TLD’s long term vitality. 

Summary Report

After the market and government, the commons are a third sector of social and economic production. Traditional accounting systems fail to report its historic and continuing contributions to society and its unpinning the market sector. Elinor Ostrom’s winning the 2009 Noble Prize in Economics - for her work detailing how self organizing communities can avoid the Tragedy of the Commons and sustainably manage collective resources - brought new interest to the commons.

David indicated that a commons is a sustainable regime for both natural resources (oceans, forests…) and also, perhaps more so, for digital resources, which are not finite. (Wikipedia, Creative Commons, and open source are examples of digital commons.)

Thomas Lowenhaupt reviewed possible governance mechanisms for a city-TLD: government, the multi-stakeholder model used by ICANN, the IETF, and IGF (civic society, government, and industry), the public access cable model, and that of public broadcast media, and asked David if a city-TLD might be governed as a common pool resource: either parts of it - such as the neighborhood or category portals, or in its entirety.

Bollier responded:

  • city-TLDs provided a rich opportunity for creating a new type of governance,
  • the big issue of our times is a collision between bottom up, transparent, merit driven, and participatory network culture and 20th century institutions that tend to be bureaucratic, hierarchical, and too often co-opted and corrupted,
  • in today’s society, government holds too narrow a view of value, with markets being viewed as the only value producers. This leads government to give public assets to the large players, ignoring the value of a more diverse market,
  • non-market interests have a role in bettering society, but that value is not properly accounted for in our market centered economic model,
  • to the extent that we can create a governance structure that represents and reflects a broader array of players and is bottom-up driven, like much of the Net, and more flexible than sometimes stodgy or inflexible government structures, there’s the potential of gain for all,
  • a common pool regiment, traditional non-profit, city government and other options should be looked at.

David suggested that the Open Wall Street movement might offer an opportunity to explore governance options and to bring the opportunities city-TLDs present to cities globally.

Policy issues and experiences with open data were also discussed with Robert Pollard suggesting the importance of bringing open data to a more fruitful location. David mention the policy of Lentz, Austria as a possible guide. 

A wiki page with the complete meeting materials - summary, minutes, and video - is available here

For more on this topic see our Common Pool Resource wiki page and David Bollier’s posting on the meeting.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

dotnyc-logo-3-11-07.jpgJackson Hts., New York, August 22, 2011 - We preach and practice open and transparent. From our earliest days in 2005 the vast majority of our activities have been accessible on our wiki and blog. Today 66 people have editing rights on our wiki. Edit access is easy to come by: click the Join CoActivate button on the top right, and upon responding to an email, you’ll have edit capabilities. (We originally didn’t have email verification, but spammers drove us to lower our openness a notch.) The reversible nature of the wiki technology facilitates openness as real damage from errors or mischief is near impossible. (Please don’t take this as a challenge to  prove me wrong.)

The wiki has become huge over those years with our newest page, iCity, our 184th. Some are quite short, perhaps a 1/2 page of text, with the largest requiring 25 single spaced typed pages.

Following all this can be challenging. The blog notifies about big changes - we’ve made 197 posts - but if you want to follow the nitty-gritty about recently created and updated pages, click the green Contents tab up top for a list of all the pages. The “Last Modified” tab will show what’s been changed in time order. (It’s a bit klutzy and we’re hoping for a one click “Recent Changes” button from our most gracious host, CoActivate.) And to see the page changes, click the History button on top right.

So what’s new? Here are the 11 most recently edited pages: one is a new page, and the others have a mix of minor to major changes:

We’ve listed 11 instead of the typical 10 to draw your attention to our Governance Ecology pages. We’re going to be making some major changes to them over the next few weeks and we’d like more people to join us. They’ll provide the basis for our recommendations for governance of the TLD - perhaps the most critical issue. We’re going to include the latest wrinkles from ICANN on qualifications for a city-TLD as well as a look at the expected “consensus” demonstration criteria expected of IANA.

The .nyc TLD’s future is up to you. Join our resident led endeavor, and contribute your ideas to this most important civic enterprise.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

farm-roof-film.jpgBrooklyn Grange, Long Island City, August 7, 2011 - I’m writing this from a most pleasant film event at a farm in Long Island City. Those outside the city (and most in it as well) will do a blink/flinch at the thought of farms in New York City, but rooftop farms are the latest-greatest. Brooklyn Grange runs the one I’m at, sitting with my feet carefully avoiding trampling the lettuce surrounding them, waiting for the films to start. (Check with Rooftop Films about tonight’s and other films they sponsor.)

Waiting for the films to start my mind wondered to the domain name farms.nyc. Does it have a value? If so to whom? How is it allocated? etc.

It’s not a new topic, actually pretty central to the entire development of our TLD (see our DNAP), but I figured a post about farms.nyc would be an interesting way to raise these questions anew. As well, we’re making farms.nyc the start off point for Thursday’s Tea and TLDs conference call. To participate, see the invite on Meetup, or just go to our Google+ Hangout on Thursday morning between 10 and 11.

Hope to see you Thursday.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

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