Jackson-Heights-balcanized.pngJackson Hts., New York, January 1, 2013 - What impact might our new digital infrastructure have upon our city’s neighborhoods? For the past few years we’ve cataloged some of the benefits that might arise from thoughtfully allocated and locally controlled neighborhood websites on our dotNeighborhoods wiki pages.

But over the past few months, with the city having submitted an application and begun moving toward the activation of the .nyc TLD, we’ve not received the assurances we expected about city hall’s plans for neighborhood networks, i.e., give residents the opportunity to self govern their neighborhoods as they have historically. Indeed, unofficially, we’ve been told that they will not be following our recommendations and the neighborhood domain names will be sold off with a bottom line perspective, not civic betterment.

So let’s explore the impact that action might have on my favorite neighborhood, Jackson Heights. Today there are a dozen or so sites that currently serve our neighborhood’s needs, have served them and are reorganizing, or are preparing to enter the fracas of local media.

The Many Jackson Heights’
 JacksonHeightsLife.com  JHBG.org
 JHGreen.org  jhdogs.ning.com/
 Queens7.com  JacksonHeights.NYDailyNews.com
 NYTimes.com/JacksonHeights  JacksonHeights.Patch.com
 JacksonHeights.Neighborly.com  Google.com/JacksonHeights
 JacksonHeights.EveryBlock.com  JacksonHeights.NewYork.craigslist.com
 YP.com/JacksonHeights  iwantmorefood.com/the-jackson-heights-food-group/

And under the current “unofficial” plan we could add JacksonHeights.nyc to that list, along with sites such as WesternJacksonHeights.nyc, NorthJacksonHeights.nyc, The BetterJacksonHeights.nyc, TouristJacksonHeights.nyc, MyJacksonHeights.nyc, DiversityPlaza.nyc, HistoricJacksonHeights.nyc, etc.

How do residents locate and communicate with one another in such a digitally balkanized neighborhood? Where is the center of our neighborhood when there’s an emergency, an opportunity, or a joyous event we want to share? How do we network over dozens of sites?

It’s long been my view that a central point of contact was critical to the existence of an inclusive and livable neighborhood. Especially in an ethnically and culturally diverse place like Jackson Heights, its vital that we avoid cubbyholes that fester about problems that “they” are causing. We need a central local, a town hall, a public square, a forum, a bulletin board where information is posted and important ideas exchanged.

This is not to imply that all these current sites should not continue as the .nyc TLD comes to life. Indeed, there’s no way to prevent a plethora of sites. And perhaps most importantly, it’s vital that we have a multiplicity of sites to serve our needs. One solution might be a simple blogroll on an “official” JacksonHeights.nyc.

So let me start 2013 with a plea to our officials in city hall: We’re reaching out to the 38 other global cities that have applied for their TLDs to determine how they are using their historic neighborhood names. We suspect our research will steer the city toward empowering our historic neighborhoods, making them a key building block of our new digital civic infrastructure. City hall should wait for our research results before adopting an allocation policy for our dotNeighborhoods.

pizza-nyc-with-hat-1.jpgJackson Hts., New York, June 27, 2012 - The formal announcement of city hall’s support for the .nyc TLD was made by City Council Speaker Chris Quinn in her 2009 State-Of-The-City address:

“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.”

With .nyc’s arrival expected in 2014, we’d like to take a look at where Tony and the city’s other pizza parlors might end up when the city’s digital grid is activated.

NYC’s Pizza Industry

For starters, let’s take a tour of the city’s pizza industry. According to a search of the Department of Health’s database, there are 1,644 restaurants with the words Pizza or Pizzeria in their name. And a sampling in our immediate vicinity found as many stores selling pizza without either “P” word in their name as with it. So, using round numbers, we estimate there are about 3,000 city establishments selling pizza. Or we can take Answers.com’s  estimate on the number of pizza parlors - kajillions!

Beyond providing a healthful, tasty, and affordable meal, these restaurants provide lots of jobs. A tiny shop in our neighborhood, Pizza Boy, employs 4. And based on our local sampling, we’ll assume that the average shop has twice that, so we have 3,000 restaurants @ 8 jobs per = 24,000 jobs.

And most important, they provide some of that uniqueness that visitors love about our city, and they provide residents with the gist for the never settled question: Who’s got the best pizza in the neighborhood?

Pizza.nyc - going once… going twice… sold to the company with the cheese filled crust.

The city’s current plan for allocating primary intuitive domain names - names such as Hotels.nyc, News.nyc, Sports.nyc, and Pizza.nyc - is via high-bid auction or a negotiated arrangement that has its guiding directive “optimizing revenues.”

Projecting from interest shown in the .pizza TLD, where 4 companies each paid an $185,000 application fee to ICANN for the opportunity to control .pizza, we anticipate a good deal of interest in pizza.nyc. And if there’s an auction for the name, we presume that Pizza Hut, or another industry giant, would outbid the likes of Tony’s Pizza (with a few thousand dollars and flyers their principle marketing tool) and purchase the right to use the pizza.nyc domain name.

Top U.S. Pizza Chains and Revenue 2011
 Pizza Hut 13,432 $11,000,000,000
 Domino’s Pizza   9,400   $6,700,000,000
 Papa John’s   3,646   $2,390,172,000
 Little Caesars Pizza   2,960   $1,345,000,000

If that’s its outcome, we fear that Tony’s Pizza and the city’s other mom and pop pizza stores will see a decline in their business, especially those located in tourist areas. Because if you’re a tourist in Times Square, and you’re getting hungry, and you type into Google or you ask Siri, “Where’s pizza?,” search engines like Google are likely to direct you Pizza Hut, not mom and pop operations. Here’s why.

  • Google’s search rules (its ‘algorithm’) say things like: “If the request is for information about a scientific issue, give preference to websites ending with the .edu TLD.” And, “If the search is for a U.S. government document, give preference to documents listed in .gov sites.” So the tourist’s cell phone will send its location, “I’m located in New York City” and the search engine will give preference to websites located within the .nyc TLD.
  • Other search rules say: “Give preference in the results listing to domain names with the key word in a prominent position.” In this instance the key word is pizza, so a good domain name like pizza.nyc will receive preference in the listing to http://www.rjcaffe.com/ and numero28.com, web addresses of fine pizza restaurants but without pizza in their domain name.
  • It’s estimated there are 400+ rules governing the decisions of Google’s search engine (see here). And firms such as Pizza Hut pay Search Engine Optimization experts $100,000+ per year to match wits with Google’s rule writers to keep their stores at the top of the search results. Our city’s mom and pop pizzerias stand little chance of being found within the increasingly advertiser controlled Internet.

Our Transparent Search page presents more on the importance of creating a level playing field for local business, including the mom and pop businesses.

What About Tony?

Speaker Quinn was rightly concerned about Tony being thrown into a global pool and requiring him “to outbid a guy in Kansas to get Tony’s Pizza dot com.” And the arrival of the .nyc TLD will presents some good news for the city’s many Tonys. According to the Health Department, there are at least 8 of them: 

TONY’S FAMOUS PIZZA 547 FULTON STREET BROOKLYN, 11201
TONY’S ORIGINAL 11 CORSON AVENUE STATEN ISLAND, 10301
TONY’S PIZZA II 1107 RUTLAND ROAD BROOKLYN, 11212
TONY’S PIZZERIA 336 KNICKERBOCKER AVE BROOKLYN, 11237
TONY’S PIZZERIA 1412 ST JOHNS PLACE BROOKLYN, 11213
TONY’S PIZZERIA & RESTAURANT 1622 RALPH AVENUE BROOKLYN, 11236
TONYS PIZZERIA AND RESTAUARANT 443 KNICKERBOCKER AVENUE BROOKLYN, 11237
TONY’S PIZZERIA & RESTAURANT 45-18 104 STREET QUEENS, 11368

 

During .nyc’s Launch, all will have an early opportunity to claim a good domain name. (A “good domain name” is short, descriptive, and memorable.)

Phase 1 of the names distribution process provides 45 days for the city’s Food Service Licensees to make a name selection. While there are sure to be some hurdles, each Tony should find a good domain name available. [Hurdles: (a) It’s a first-come, first-served registration, so if there are two identically named Tonys, the first to claim a name gets to use it. (b) Before a name is activated, the city will check the claimant’s eligibility (e.g., “Got a license?”), and (c) that the selected domain name matches the business name of record.]

I’m sure Speaker Quinn will be surprised that there’s no licensed “Tonys Pizza” in the city. So what happens to TonysPizza.nyc if an eligible entity can’t claim it during Launch’s Phase 1? It becomes available during Phase 2’s Landrush Process. During Landrush, anyone can make a claim to it on a first-come, first-served basis, and use the domain name for whatever purpose they choose - no mozzarella needed.

TonysPizza.nyc

This can all get a bit complex, so let me try to recap by providing a concrete example. (I present the following knowing Speaker Quinn has a good sense of humor.)

Let’s imagine that City Council Speaker Chris Quinn wakes up on New Year’s Day 2013 and decides that she doesn’t want to be mayor, “No more politics for me, I’m a married lady and need to earn an honest living.” She decides on a career change that will have her open a fancy Irish/Italian restaurant, Tony’s Pizza - with Guinness on tap. She knows the .nyc Launch process from sitting in on city council hearings, and rushes off to the Department of Health to secure her license to operate Tonys Pizza.

As she’s searching out a chef, designer, and that ideal location, DoITT and ICANN continue on their paths toward activating the .nyc TLD. Phase 1 of .nyc’s launch arrives in January 2014 and the now former-Speaker, Health Department license for Tonys in hand, claims the TonysPizza.nyc domain name. And she aims for TonysPizza.nyc’s opening to coincide with the .nyc TLD’s activation in January 2015.

Mid-year she hires a chef, locates a storefront in Hell’s Kitchen, and turns her attention to a digital marketing strategy. She recalls that the council’s public hearings had drawn out the city’s mom and pop shop owners who demanded that the city’s primary intuitive domain names - bars.nyc, bookstores.nyc, cleaners.nyc, drugstores.nyc, hotels.nyc, news.nyc, restaurants.nyc, pizza.nyc, etc. - provide an opportunity for their establishments to be found. She checks on the roll-out process for these names and learns that a start-up media company from the Bronx, PizzaServices.nyc, had negotiated the rights to the pizza.nyc domain name, based in part on their commitment to provide a level playing field for all the city’s pizza restaurants. She calls PizzaServices to ask where her place will be found in pizza.nyc.

Mario answers the phone and delights her by saying that, as the owner of a second level pizza domain name - TonysPizza.nyc, she’s entitled to:

  • A free listing in the alpha, neighborhoods, and map directories on the Pizza.nyc site.
  • And that she’s entitled to a free listing under restaurants in the HellsKitchen.nyc neighborhood site.

She’s starting to feel good about her time spent as a civil servant. She’s about to hang up when Mario asks if she’d like to advertize on the site. She inquires about the rates and learns that they’re within her budget. But she’s concerned about the difficulty and cost of creating the ad. “No problem,” says Mario, “My partner can create the ad for you. She’s a whiz, an ITP graduate.” adding “And if you want, she’ll do your restaurant’s entire website. At a reasonable rate.”

Mario’s got Chris’ ear at this point and adds “And the third level domain name - TonysPizza.HellsKitchen.nyc  - is available or $20 per year. “It’ll make you distinct from the other Tonys around the city.” And he finishes off with “And if you buy it, you’ll get a free listing in Pizza.HellsKitchen.nyc.”

With that, she hangs up, her head spinning at the many possibilities. But it rings again and its Mario, “And don’t forget, check with restaurants.nyc, you’re entitled to a free listing there too. Ask for Danny, he runs that commons.” After hanging up she thinks “Wow, this is going to a lot more edgy than being mayor. Maybe I can be the Princess of Pizza? Better yet, The Pizza Queen?” (Image by Patti.)

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

bloomborg-1.jpgJackson Hts., New York, March 24, 2012 - I’ve copied below a message I sent to Mayor Bloomberg earlier this evening. Its context is the sorry state of transparency and public engagement in the development of the city’s .nyc Top Level Domain. (See sidebar here.)

I’ve sent dozens of thoughtful and detailed emails and other communications to him over the years without success. Some have been delivered via scenarios worthy of a Spy vs. Spy episode, and I’ve grown increasingly frustrated trying to pierce his bubble. Not believing the mayor to be corrupt, just ignorant on this issue, penetrating that bubble has consumed an inordinate amount of my attention.

After describing the precarious situation of our city’s TLD (see sidebar here) to a group in Corona this afternoon, and detailing the secretive nature of the negotiations and documents that will guide the development of our city’s TLD, a participant commented, “It’s Capra Meets Kafka.” In desperation, with the official opportunity to participate in the process having ended,  I thought I’d try once again to pierce that bubble, hence the below Hail Mary to the mayor. Wish it luck.

[Also, a friend made the “BloomBORG” picture that I’ve been itching to use. I’ve long had a fantasy of sitting down with the mayor over a pot of Earl Grey, and the mayor, after a thoughtful discussion about the TLD’s potentials to foster our city’s greatness into the digital era, turning Picard-like to his staff and saying, “Make it so.” And thereby beginning a fruitful process for developing our city’s TLD.]

Here’s the receipt from the city for my Hail Mary to the mayor. I’ve highlighted my short message at the bottom.

The City of New York

The information you have provided is as follows:
Form: Customer Comment
Topic: CASE
Name:  THOMAS LOWENHAUPT
City, State Zip: JACKSON HTS, NY 11372
Country: United States
Company: Connecting.nyc Inc
Message: After a meeting this afternoon at which I described the
situation with regard to DoITT’s proposed contract with NeuStar
one of the participants said “they should make a movie and call
it Capra Meets Kafka.”

Please, don’t let them make the movie.

I await a response. (And don’t miss the details of the “public hearing.”)

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

Filed March 24th, 2012 under games, DoITT

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

Jackson Hts., New York, March 23, 2012 - Below are the rough notes from my visit to DoITT’s office yesterday, March 22, 2012. Apologies for the lack of detail, but I was not provided with a copy of the document and was forbidden by city officials from using any recording devices, e.g., taking a picture of the pages with my cell phone. See details on this here.

The city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) held a “public hearing” on the proposed contract today. See my written statement here.

[Note: The city’s “transparency period” ended on March 23 and City Hall’s door has slammed shut without any meaningful public engagement on the TLD development process. And the city’s application for the .nyc TLD will be submitted on April 12 without having received any meaningful public review. This sad situation is reflected in an imagined response of ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom upon learning of the lack of public review.]

Editors Note: This report was originally made by CnI’s director, Thomas Lowenhaupt, based on  a brief viewing of city documents. With the arrival of a copy of some of the documents, we’ve provided this link to a more complete report on the .nyc TLD documents.

(Image of  ICANN’s CEO Rod Beckstrom reacting to practices that enabled cities to enter the complex realm of the TLD sans guidance.)

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

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.

March-7-2012-City-Hall-Bill-signing-open-data.jpg

Jackson Hts., New York, March 9, 2012 - I was at City Hall on Wednesday for Mayor Bloomberg’s signing of the Open Data Law. Having testified to the city council on a draft of the measure in 2010, I affirmed my support for the legislation. After concluding my remarks I passed on a copy of our award winning The Flushing Community poster to the mayor, saying I hoped it would help the city prepare for its next digital task - planning for the arrival of the .nyc TLD.

After the signing, a prominent expert and practitioner of all things digital, Beth Noveck, a professor at New York Law School and former Deputy Chief Technology Officer for the Obama Administration, said “You’re next.” and I was doubly cheered.

But then a conversation with Carole Post, commissioner of the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunication (DoITT), darkened my day. With Connecting.nyc Inc. the first and primary advocate for the TLD’s acquisition, I’d hoped that our December 22 recommendation, that New York wait for ICANN’s second filing round, had provided the city with a basis and latitude for postponing the filing. (That statement’s essence said “no research, no outreach, no real deadline - let’s wait”.) But the Commissioner stated that they were on a path to submit an application to ICANN by the April 12 deadline.

I then asked the commissioner about the missing research and public engagement and she said “We’ll do that afterward.” I tried again, reiterating that there’s no rush, our TLD has been, in essence (see comment below), reserved for when we’re ready, and that ICANN has announced that it’s preparing to reopen the filing window. “We’re on a path to file by April.” she again stated. I tried a third time, stating that the filing required serious commitments on the part of the city, but she was sticking to her path.

I left city hall disappointed but thinking, “Afterward might not be that bad, at least they’re going to do it.” But I returned home to think about the situation, ponder her statements, and to look over the level of commitment required in the New TLD Guidebook. Beginning on page 99 it spells out 50 questions, many concluding with “A complete answer is expected to be no more than 10 pages.” And as one might imagine, there are many potential devils in the details that must be spelled out: Who qualifies to apply for a domain name, who gets what name, how is it decided, for how much, for how long, are there restrictions on name use, how are the needs of local businesses addressed, what about civic organizations, neighborhoods, schools, churches, how are our cultural resources preserved, what is the sustainability plan…

I was left wondering how they were completing the application without public outreach or expert assistance. Maybe they were going to fill it in after filing as the Commissioner indicated? But the Guidebook seemed clear that changes were the exception not the rule, and that ICANN would base its decision on the April submission.

Today I decided to prod DoITT and asked “What about the neighborhood names - JacksonHeights.nyc, Harlem.nyc, ParkSlope.nyc, etc. - what are the plans for their allocation.” I await an answer. 

So here I am, one month shy of an 11 year effort to bring this important resource to the city, and I find myself arguing against doing so. A sad situation indeed. (Commons Photo of Thomas Lowenhaupt at City Hall - courtesy of CnI Library.) 

Tom Lowenhaupt

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

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Jackson Hts., New York, December 22, 2011 - With 21 days remaining before the ICANN’s filing window opens for new TLDs, authoritative city government sources report the following: the new deputy mayor with responsibility for the TLD’s oversight (Robert K. Steel) is being briefed about the opportunity; “everyone in the loop” is being consulted; the city has not decided what to do with the three proposals it received in December 2009 (we presume these are by Verisign, CORE, and a now merged Minds & Machines and NuStar application); the lead agency has yet to be determined; and the role of the public in the decision making process is unclear.

With mere days remaining for the application’s submission, we can’t fathom completing the comprehensive, ground-setting TLD design, planning, and development process, including public education and engagement, which we’ve advocated. With faith that the Bloomberg Administration can come up with a suitable zeitgeist vision waning, earlier this year we petitioned the city council to, minimally, set aside the neighborhood names as local civic and economic development resources.

But without a long-term vision and a strong commitment to using the TLD as digital infrastructure, we fear that our city’s TLD, and the neighborhood names, will be lost among the hundreds of helter-skelter TLDs ICANN is expected to authorize over the next few years. In the new TLD environment, a standard model city-TLD might be suitable for selling tourist tchotchkes, but without adequate planning, it will not serve as the infrastructure we need to enhance our digital future. 

Having worked and waited over 10 years for this opportunity to arise, we find ourselves compelled and saddened to make the following recommendation: Let’s begin now to undertake a comprehensive review of all that a TLD can do for our city. Let’s observe cities receiving TLDs in this first round and learn from their experience. And let’s prepare for ICANN’s next filing opportunity for city-TLDs, expected in perhaps three years - barely enough time to prepare a thoughtful and comprehensive plan.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

isoc-ny-logo.jpg New York, December 6, 2011 - How does a city use a Top Level Domain? That question remains largely unanswered as the April 12 deadline for filing applications for new Top Level Domains, or TLDs, approaches. While ICANN, the global entity with responsibility for issuing TLDs, has initiated a new TLD program, it has not consulted with cities or provided any guidelines on their use. Beyond the (not inconsiderable) contributions of Connecting.nyc Inc., no academic study, funded research, or formal explorations of any sort on the effective and efficient use of city-TLDs have been undertaken.

New York’s Internet Society has stepped forward to help fill the expertise and planning gap by creating the Occupy NY wiki. Working in much the same manner as the popular Wikipedia, the Occupy Wiki presents a venue where the public can present their ideas, ask questions, communicate, and explore how this new digital infrastructure, might help address the multitude of social, political, and economic challenges that face our city on a daily basis. How it can help our small businesses and create a more livable city.

In creating the Occupy NY Wiki, New York’s Internet Society, (ISOC-NY), a chapter of the global Internet Society, has initiated an important step in the traditional bottom-up decision-making process upon which the Internet was built. In offering this resource, ISOC-NY hopes the contributions of New York’s residents and organizations will assist with the submission of an application to the ICANN for a city-TLD in early 2012.

We wonder though how the city can possibly discern the effective use of a TLD in the few days remaining before ICANN’s filing deadline. Having advocated for .nyc’s acquisition for over a decade, some might be shocked when we say: We think it prudent that New York’s Internet community begin now preparing for the next filing opportunity, with ISOC-NY’s Occupy Wiki an appropriate first step. Our broader plans for research and public engagement indicate further steps.

Properly preparing for a city-TLD’s arrival is equivalent to preparing a street grid, zoning plan, or subway line - something that takes years, not days. Our friend Constantine Roussos has invested 5 years and millions of dollars planning the .music TLD, one far less complex and with far less impact than a TLD for the world’s premier city.

But we applaud this initiative and responsible action by ISOC-NY on behalf of its home city. We encourage ISOC-NY to continue to advocate for research into the effective use of this critical Internet resource. Long term, city-TLDs offer a significant business opportunity for the city. With the United Nations in our back yard, as we learn then transfer our experiences globally, they promise to become an important new source of employment, providing good jobs for ISOC members and residents with expertise in a variety of fields.

Finally, we encourage our wiki team to visit the Occupy NY Wiki and do elves-work helping new users. (The isoc-ny logo is courtesy of the Internet Society-NY.)

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

June-20-2011-New-TLD-Timetable.jpgJackson Hts., New York, June 20, 2011 - Meeting in Singapore, the Board of Directors of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, today approved a plan to usher in one of the biggest changes ever to the Internet’s Domain Name System. The Board vote was 13 approving, 1 opposed, and 2 abstaining.

Beginning as early as January 2012, an Application Guidebook will be released to enable entities to apply for city and other new Top Level Domains.

Today’s action is the latest milestone on the path toward issuing new TLDs that began during the Clinton Administration with the creation of ICANN in 1998. Ten years later, in June 2008, ICANN approved a New TLD policy that set the groundwork for today’s approval.

Following yesterday’s timeline, domain names using the .nyc TLD could be issued as soon as the first half of 2013. While there’s always the potential for additional delays, see for example our NTIA: Responsibility and Respect for Stakeholders post, this action will assuredly move the city toward more detailed thinking about the role of a TLD, a process that we expect will include public participation. (See our process recommendations.) We’ll post on the process and timeline for preparing and submitting the .nyc application to ICANN soon.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

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