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Jackson Hts., New York, August 23, 2013 - The Bloomberg Administration’s .NYC Advisory Board held it’s second meeting in City Hall’s Outer Ceremonial Room on August 14th. A meeting report was released today by board member Thomas Lowenhaupt - see it here.

The good news is that the Advisory Board has been expanded with 3 new members appointed to represent the city’s small businesses and Business Improvement Districts. Other good news is that an ICANN initiated a “Name Collision” study that might delay the implementation of the .nyc TLD for several months. You’re probably asking “Is a delay good news?”

With several problems remaining, it is. Consider this one. Trademark interests are pushing to the head of the line, demanding that they get first dibs on picking .nyc domain names. By some counts there are 25,000,000 trademarks globally, many of which collide with our civic interests. For example: police is a trademark for an insect repellant. Corona and Rugby are beer and clothes trademarks as well as neighborhood names. And mayor.nyc could go to the cigar manufacture holding the “mayor” trademark in the tobacco category. Some trademark proponents are even fighting a suggestion that a 100 domain names be set aside for civic purposes.

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But the most critical unresolved issue relates to establishing an effective Nexus Policy. Nexus defines who is a New Yorker and entitled to use .nyc names, and the current policy has an enforcement crack in it that might enable tens of thousands of squatters, spammers, phishers and other Internet undesirables to slip through.

founding-fathers-w-border.jpgJackson Hts., New York, June 2, 2013 - As we approach the conclusion of the long development process for the .nyc TLD, we’re faced with the typical question in allocating a scarce resource: Who gets what? At this point we’re calling it a contest between ‘We the people…’ and the Sooners and Boomers. With the ink dry on a city contract, the Sooners and Boomers are clearly ahead, with ‘We the people…’ struggling for an equitable distribution of the city’s digital land.

So who are the Sooners and Boomers? Historically the Sooners were the participants in the 1889 Oklahoma Land Run (a.k.a. Land Rush) that snuck into the “unassigned lands” before the official start of the Run. And the Boomers were those who claimed the 1862 Holmstead Act made the Oklahoma land available to the first settler, invalidating the need for an organized Run.

Take a look at the city’s official Launch Schedule for the .nyc TLD and you’ll see how the Sooners were written into a privileged position in the 2012 contract, with 10 groups are given first dibs on the .nyc domain names.

  1. Government (City, State and Federal offices providing services in the City);

  1. City-Based Non-Profits (entities that provide services within the City and that are registered with the State of New York as not-for-profit corporations);

  1. City Concessionaires (private entities using City-owned property under contract with a City agency)

  1. City Franchisees (private entities using inalienable City-owned property to provide a public service under contract with a City agency);

  1. Retail Service Licensees (private retail establishments licensed by a City agency to conduct such business);

  1. Food Service Licensees (private establishments licensed by the City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to provide food service);

  1. NYC & Co. Members (members of NYC & Company (a not-for-profit membership organization that serves as the City’s promotional arm and which operates under a concession agreement with the City));

  1. Business Improvement Districts (a/k/a BIDS) (entities formed by local property owners and tenants to promote business development and quality of life and which operate pursuant to the General Municipal Law and local laws authorizing private not-for-profit corporations to provide supplemental services to particular geographic areas of the City and which operate under contract with the City’s Department of Small Business Services for such purpose); 

  1. City Digital Startups (private entities satisfying the following criteria: (a) their primary business objective is to bring to market products or services that are built from or whose functionalities are fulfilled using digital technology; (b) they have a physical presence in the City; and (c) they have registered with NYC Digital as a New York City digital company); and

  2. City Vendors (private entities from whom the City procures goods and/or services and are registered with the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services).

We don’t disagree with all the Sooners choices. Indeed, we advocate for thoughtful and inclusive planning. But we know that the public has not yet had a say in selection process. And we question why, for example, “City Digital Startups” should have priority over businesses that have operated here for decades. 

The contemporary Boomers are another privileged class that will have priority access to premium domain names such as news.nyc, hotels.nyc, tours.nyc, sports.nyc, etc. Who the Boomers are and what domain names they’ll have access to remains cloaked in a bureaucratic haze. The selection process of the Boomer names lacks transparency and has also been diminished by a lack of public engagement.

At this point the best hope for ‘We the people…’ lies in a .NYC Advisory Board that had its first meeting in city hall last month. But the administration’s support for the Board is questionable according to one Board member. More on that soon.

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

metrics.pngJackson Hts., New York, March 16, 2013 - With the .nyc TLD on course to be activated in the next year, we are exploring ways to judge if it’s a success. The standard metric for TLDs is quite simple: number sold. Thus the more .com or .org names sold, the more revenue to the registry, and success. But with a city-TLD we need another metric.

We might adopt qualitative indicators such as “it improves access to city resources.” But if were to set goals, assess progress, and assure accountability some quantitative measures are required.

In our role as an At Large Structure we’ll soon begin working to identify these metrics as a member of an ICANN Consumer Metrics GNSO Working Group, now in formation. The Working Group is committed to creating metrics to address what some consider to be deficiencies in the initial GNSO new TLDs guidelines. While the Working Group will focus on a broad range of gTLDs, we’ll look to identify metrics that pertain especially to city-TLDs.  

The results of this ICANN effort will be of interest to the .NYC Advisory Board, a new entity created by the city administration to provide strategic guidance on the operation of the .nyc TLD. (Note: Our founding director is a member of the Board - stay tuned for details.) The exploration and outcome should also be of interest to the other 38 cities developing their TLDs. See the City-TLD Checklist wiki page for more. (Commons graphic courtesy of GrapeCity.)

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

measuring-success.jpgJackson Hts., New York, October 7, 2011 - Today, more than 1/2 the world’s population lives in urban areas. That is expected to rise to 75% by mid-century. With the ICANN having approved a new TLD process, more than 20 cities have already expressed an interest in acquiring Top Level Domains. Thirteen of those are Global Cities, the engines of growth for their countries, the gateways to the resources of their regions, and important nodes on the global economic system. More than 25% of Global Cities have expressed an interest in a TLD.

We are moving to a world where city TLDs have an impact on the future of humanity and we need measurements to discern their impact. 

Moving From Tradition to the New Reality

Entities that traditionally sell domain names as their business are currently leading cities to accept their “the-more-names-sold-the-better” business model. We see a more appropriate model for cities being indicators of social and economic benefit. These are the measurements that count for cities, not the number of domain names sold.

The following are the first success indicators we’ve identified.

  • # city’s businesses on the TLD
  • # government services available on the TLD
  • # smart portals
  • % civic organizations using the TLD
  • % improvement in digital literacy
  • % properties (block and lots) using their city domain name
  • % public transportation resources with active domain names
  • % streets with active domain names 
  • # TLD registrar jobs created in city
  • # TLD registry jobs created in city
  • Registry revenue remaining in city from domain names switched to .nyc from .com, .net, etc.

We expect there to be dozens of these indicators. Add your thoughts on what we should measure and how to do so to our Measuring Success wiki page. (Commons photo courtesy of Steven Harris.)

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

dotNYC-broken-logo.jpg Jackson Heights, New York, June 13, 2011 - At least one ICANN-accredited registrar, United Domains, is offering what it calls “Free nTLD pre-registration” with .nyc domain names included in the offer. So if you go to that offer page and indicate a desired .nyc domain name - news.nyc, sports.nyc, weather.nyc, etc. - you’ll be able to reserve that name within the United Domain’s database, and when .nyc names become available through a completed ICANN application process, the considerable resources of United will assist you in acquiring the entered name. Several thousand names have already been “reserved.” United estimates the availability of “some” top-level domains by October 2012.

While United Domains pre-registration service is free and non-binding, the North American Regional At Large Organization, part of the ICANN governance ecology, is concerned that “the offer of such a service could create artificial demand…” Today it posted a comment for review on its wiki expressing concerns with the process. We concur with those concerns and today added our two cents on that ICANN site as follows:

In the instance of New York City, I can imagine pre-registrations becoming a matter of civic disruption. For example, imagine small businesses predicating their business plans on the availability of .nyc domain names as implied in these pre-registration offers. I start gearing up to offer weather.nyc. And my sister-in-law hears of this new opportunity and “reserves” crochet.nyc. And Andy at Pizza Boy hears us jabbering and says he has a new chain of local pizza shops planned and this would fit in perfectly with his city-wide delivery plan. And on and on into the thousands.

Next the city starts to take a serious look at the social, economic, cultural, and civic impact of .nyc and realizes that such a review will take some time. With cities acting in glacial time rather than Internet time, this could lead to many thousands of disappointed “pre-registrants.”

Now imagine a candidate for mayor, let’s say Anthony Weiner - an advanced Internet user - sees this disgruntled group of pre-registrants as a political resource that can become a plank in his campaign, “Elect me mayor and on the first day in office I’ll sign off on .nyc - NO DELAY!”

With the ICANN having offered zero, zip, nada, guidance for cities looking into this once-in-an-Internet opportunity, I can see this as the winning proposition. “There’s no evidence to show that city TLDs are other than revenue generating.” “Our small businesses need it NOW.” “Jobs, jobs, jobs.” “Other cities are going to get a jump on us.” Etc.

More thoughtful candidates will be left to argue for the benefits of infrastructure. ~ Mayor Weiner.

Thomas Lowenhaupt, Founding Director

Connecting.nyc Inc.

Having presented the broad advantages that can arise from a thoughtfully developed .nyc TLD for over 10 years, we are all too aware of the difficulty of selling .nyc as the city’s new digital infrastructure. (See our 159 wiki chapters.) And with ICANN preparing to approve the Application Guidebook for new TLDs at its Singapore meeting on June 20, immediate action is required.

Unless the city or ICANN act quickly to create a period of reflection and a planning process for .nyc (find our recommendations here), this one opportunity to weave this wonder of modernity to strengthen our 400 year old city will be lost. Our opportunity to create an intuitive city with a sustainable .nyc TLD will be lost. And what could be a force for thought, deliberation and uniting, and for establishing New York as a trustworthy center for digital commerce, as imagined in Queens Community Board 3’s April 2001 Internet Empowerment Resolution, will become a shattered dream.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

news-sports-weather-nyc-c.jpgJackson Hts., New York, January 1, 2011 - This first post of 2011 proposes a process for distributing key .nyc names such as news.nyc, weather.nyc, and sports.nyc. But for insight into the experience behind the suggested process, let me tell a story about how a neighborhood school got built.

In June 1992 I was part of a civic campaign advocating that a new school be built in our neighborhood. There was a clear path to success: our schools were massively overcrowded, a local teacher cohort had developed an innovative curriculum for a new school, and best of all, the city had created a fund for new innovative schools.

But the neighborhood was completely built, without a single vacant parcel of land. And when the teacher cohort began looking outside the neighborhood for a school venue, parents became frantic. Desperate, local parents focused on a seemingly underutilized department store in the center of the neighborhood’s commercial strip. But soon after advancing the venue we learned that the owner had refused an offer from the Board of Education.

To advance our cause, a group of parents met with the building owner to inform him of the many benefits the school would provide for both he and the neighborhood and to ask his support. We detailed the advantages of improved education, how it would increase the value of his nearby properties, and even how we’d advocate having the school named in his honor. But after listening politely Carlo became agitated, and after a deep breadth told us how the Board of Education had the temerity to offer him a measly $6 a square foot for his prime space. He was obviously insulted by the offer and stated that he would “not take a nickel less than $9.”

Thereafter we rallied the parents, pressured our elected representatives, and generally raised cane demanding that the city up its offer, condemn the property, do whatever it took to acquire the site. With the neighborhood in the dark as to the occasionally rumored “privileged negotiation,” a poisoned situation arose that had the neighborhood, in effect, working on behalf of the landlord, to the detriment of our school budget.

After a year an a half of rabble rousing the deal was sealed - for $21 a square foot! And two years later the Renaissance School opened to spectacular results. Today we have a wonderful school and a very happy landlord.

There are lessons from this experience that can be applied to the allocation of Primary Intuitive Names such as news.nyc, weather.nyc, and sports.nyc. Before detailing them, let me present a few axioms about them: 

  • Primary Intuitive Names have no obvious owner. Everyone would like to own them, but there are no actionable links for anyone. Perhaps they might be considered part of a common pool.
  • Primary Intuitive Names  are vital to the success of the .nyc TLD. They are the TLDs book covers, domain names people will visit first for a sample or preview. (Standard Portal Names and Navigation Names are also vital resources, but subjects for later posts.)
  • Primary Intuitive Names must be operational and provide a slick and effective information backbone from day one (Shift Day). If those entering a domain name such as news.nyc receive an advert or stale news, they will develop a negative view of the entire .nyc TLD.

Given these, how are we to allocate Primary Intuitive Names?

We can’t risk a simplistic high bid auction that might enable a speculator to acquire the name for resale a few years hence. Or put it into the hands of someone seeking to protect a competitive domain. And given the prospect that, thoughtfully developed, several Primary Intuitive Names can fund the entire .nyc TLD’s start-up budget and significant public education and access efforts, we must make the most of them. 

    So here’s a New Year’s proposal based on that Renaissance School experience. Let’s rouse the public, pressure our elected representatives, and raise cane to demand that we1  create a competitive field that maximizes advantage from these public resources through this four step project: 

      1. Create an open and transparent process for guiding the identification and distribution of the Primary Intuitive Names.
      2. Begin an awareness campaign providing all those interested in developing these names with the opportunity to get their eggs in a row, initially via communication through relevant trade press. Consider this post an initial step.
      3. Develop minimum standards about content requirements within each Primary Intuitive Name with crowdsourced input used to reward excellence of concept.
      4. Advocate for a Shift Day that begins only when the Primary Intuitive Names are fully functional. 

          How much “prosperity” might be raised from using our Renaissance experience to up the value of the Primary names? More than enough to finance the .nyc TLD’s planning and start-up, and to advance local control of this public interest resource. But its real potency lies in its ability to empower us all, providing for the all important Happy and Healthy referred to at top. But I’ve gone on too long here and will address these soon in a recommendation on ways we might use the initial and continuing .nyc TLD revenue streams. 

          Learn more about the Primary Intuitive Names and our Domain Name Allocation Plan which deals with all .nyc names. (Commons photo courtesy of Stock Photo.)

          Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

          1. By “we” I refer to the residents and organizations of New York City.^

          ­RFI.JPGNew York City, April 27, 2009 - The city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) in preparation for the acquisition of the .nyc TLD (like .com and .org but just for New York City). We applaud this outreach effort and request that all members of Connecting.nyc’s community join us in assembling a comprehensive body of information to assist the city with this important policy development effort.

          Over the next weeks we will gather and organize information that might aide the city’s decision making process. (Due date May 27th.) With our public interest perspective, decade-long involvement with .nyc, and the collaboration of our community, we expect that our submission will assist the city in better understanding the multitude of ways .nyc can help create a more prosperous and livable city.

          We will augment our submission by including information presented on a collaborative wiki we’ve created, see RFI Workspace. The Workspace links to the abundance of information on Connecting.nyc Inc.’s wiki, and enables our community to help create an imaginative and innovative assemblage of ideas for the city’s consideration. We are particularly interested in ways the TLD might facilitate security and privacy. As well, we’d like to hear how .nyc can help connect New York City’s civic, social, and business communities using networking tools.

          Going forward, we expect DoITT to review the various RFI submissions and, in collaboration with city agencies, business & civic organizations, and residents, to develop a road map leading to .nyc’s acquisition, development, operation, and oversight. (Image elements courtesy Google Maps.)

          Learn more about our RFI Collaboration

          Link to Connecting.nyc Inc.’s wiki pages.

          ­­­­­

          ­­New York, ­­­­­City-Hall.JPGFebruary 12, 2009 - City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced today that New York City will seek the acquisition of the .nyc TLD.

          Speaker Quinn said:

          While we look to cut spending, we’ll keep our eyes open for any new sources of revenue. Here’s one that’s been right in front of us for years. Web sites end with dot com, dot org, dot this and dot that.

          Thanks to the leadership of Council Member Gale Brewer and Deputy Mayor Bob Leiber, New York City will soon have its own place on the web – with dot NYC.

          ­

          Mark Twain famously advised “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.” Well now we can make more New York addresses – just on the internet! A local business won’t have to outbid a guy in Kansas to get Tony’s Pizza dot com. They’ll be able to get Tony’s Pizza dot NYC, a name associated with the greatest city – and home of the greatest pizza – in the world.

          Most importantly, we expect to generate millions of dollars a year through the sale of web addresses ending in dot NYC.  ­(See the full speech here.) ­

          While we’re delighted that the city has come aboard, t­he Speaker’s first and last sentences are somewhat troubling and we are watching out that Manhattan is not again sold for a few beads. Easy to imagine in these troubled economic times.­

          Our latest initiative on a civic opportunity e­nabled by a thoughtfully developed .nyc is entitled Traditional Neighborhood Names. Take a look.

          We look forward to continuing our work with the city council and administration to assure that the .nyc TLD is developed in the public interest, availing ourselves of short term opportunities while providing for the long term needs of our city.

          For those new to the issue, we suggest reading Toward City-TLDs in the Public Interest for some overview. And if you have thoughts or questions, enter them here or through our wiki.   

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

          ­­­­

          rugby-vs-rugby.JPG

          (Map from Google. Commons photos courtesy of   hr.icio )

          October 10, 2008, New York - As part of our Civic Names Set-Aside effort we came across a potential conflict between the civic and culture sectors. The civic sector is represented by the Rugby neighborhood in Brooklyn’s Community District 17 - the area between Linden, Utica, Ditmas, and Nostrand Avenues. And with cultural sector by the sport of rugby.

          How do we decide who gets the rugby.nyc domain name, the neighborhood or sport? Is it a scrum that decides, or can we develop sensible guidelines?

          This is not an unanticipated development, and we’ve been working with ICANN and other city TLD developers to create guidelines to help make important decisions of this type.  Our Domain Name Allocation Plan presents our thoughts and progress on questions of this sort. And our Resident Advisory Network provides an opportunity to get involved with questions of this type. See the discussion on Rugby vs. Rugby. (Updated 10/10/2008)

          Learn about and contribute to The Campaign for .nyc on our wiki pages.

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