report-card.jpgJackson Hts., New York, August 3, 2014 - Not too long ago my wife dug up a Report Card of mine from 1954. While I’ve had quite a few since - some better some worse - on this eve of the .nyc Landrush I thought it might be fun to issue another that assesses my work on the .nyc TLD.

But what to assess? I could base it on the 2001 Internet Empowerment Resolution, which set my original course on .nyc, and claim an A grade. After all, the city has acquired .nyc and will run it as a public interest resource. “Great work Tom.”

But it’s 2014, and 13 years have elapsed. Over the last decade, as the ICANN’s new TLD award processes were evolving, my research uncovered broad areas where a city-TLD could facilitate a city’s operation: portals, markets, identity, security, privacy, economic development, civic and neighborhood betterment, and more. A fair assessment should consider how well those findings were reflected in .nyc’s structure.

Had this assessment taken place in 2009 high marks might have been in order, for when the city issued its Request For Proposals it included many of our findings in the requirements.

But the ICANN’s planning dragged on, and our research continued. And I recall speaking with a city official in 2012 about recent findings. Frustrated, he chided me for continuously raising the bar: “We’ve done everything you asked for. We can’t keep changing things. Be realistic.”

[Let me pause here for a moment to point out the transition from “I” to “we” in the previous paragraph. For this was a collaborative endeavor with my work enabled by a plethora of others. First there were my fellow community board members who listened and trusted that a city-TLD was important. There was the gentleman from Germany who goaded me in 2005 to reengage after a two year hiatus; a top TLD lawyer from Florida who guided me for several years; a board of directors who steered and encouraged me; a family that put up with this massive time eater; good friends who encouraged and criticized me; individuals and organizations that backed our effort with digital and financial resources; software engineers and other experts who advised; smart people in the DNS industry who taught me the ins and outs; city officials who strove to make the effort a success; and more. So I’m changing the nature of this assessment to one that looks at the overall city-TLD development process and its outcome. As to my personal Report Card, my work was far from perfect. Had it been better, our city-TLD would likely have provided more nuanced and beneficial features and benefits. But I’d like to think that I improved somewhat from my 1954 B in Effort.]

Before getting into the assessment, one final note on the city-TLD development environment. As the details of .nyc’s roll-out become clear, it’s increasingly apparent that we’ve been operating in what the economists call an “asymmetric knowledge” situation. This occurs where there’s inadequate expertise for one side to call upon in a negotiation. With this the first time cities have had the opportunity to develop their TLDs, the metric presented for comparison by the knowledge holder, the contractor, was name sales, not an improved quality of life. As a consequence, New York and the other cities applying for their TLDs were unprepared to evaluate the spectrum of opportunities presented. For a parallel situation see The Simpsons episode Marge Vs. The Monorail.

So, how did WE do?

I’ve rated 12 policy and operational criteria below. While the policies guiding these were selected during the Bloomberg years, the grades test against the current administration’s “progressive” standards. This results in rather poor grades: 2 Bs, 2 Cs, 3 Ds, 2 Fs, and 2 Incompletes. Summarized on a 4 point system, the effort receives a disappointing 1.3 GPA. But the two Incompletes and some flexibility the city built into the system offer some hope.

That said, here’s the good and the bad. Note: Some digging into the Links might be required to uncover the basis of our suggested remedies.                                                               

Subject Grade Explanation Remedy Links
Nexus
C Inadequate pre-registration review. Post registration enforcement. Public pays for challenges. 
Expand P.O. Box description to include virtual office. Pre-registration review. More spot checks. City led challenges.
More
Market Creation Inc. No sign of development of local markets.
Many generic names reserved, so the potential exists for new local markets.  More
Landrush Auctions F No prior use preference. A regressive high-bid blind auction policy to resolve name contention. 60% of revenue flows to contractor in Virginia.
Give priority to existing name users. Run public auctions - put name contestants in touch with one another. More
Name Distribution Equity
F City rejected NYS Trademarks and d/b/a names of current business and organization owners.
Institute London’s Local Priority Preference process enabling existing businesses and organizations to get the names they now use. More
Sustainability  D- No expressed sustainability policy or programs. Third level name use in dotNeighborhoods effort is saving grace.
Few reserved names for future use. Establish programs enabling sharing and recycling of names.
More
Local Jobs D- No new registrar jobs created in city. Saving grace: you can request info on becoming registrar
Train and ease entry for local registrars. More
Consumer Friendly
C Complex and circuitous complaint process - city, ICANN, contractor, and At-Large have roles.
Centralize complaints. Assure refund for Landrush auction losers.
More
Governance D Closed city advisory board.
Create channels for public engagement.
More
Government Names
B+ The de Blasio Administration has acquired hundreds of names to foster city operations.
More transparency and public engagement in name selection would have earned an A.
More
Neighborhood Names B+ Traditional neighborhood names have been reserved for licensing to local residents. Dedicate funding for endeavor. More
Premium Names Inc. Regressive high-bid auctions for 2,000 names such as news.nyc, sports.nyc, pizza.nyc, doctors.nyc, etc.
Premium names should have public interest clause. Hold public forums to create awareness and opportunity for local collaborations. More

Looking toward our next Report Card, we expect it to evaluate the work we’re doing outside the city. We’ve start working on an ICANN project setting the criteria for future applicants for city-TLDs: How do they prove their readiness. We’ve begun advocating that city-TLD applicants preparedness be improved by increasing the current level of awareness from “Non-objection” to “Informed Consent.”  As well, we hope to require engagement of the user community, through the formation of an At-Large Structure, in creating these applications. And finally, we hope to reorganize the mass of materials we’ve assembled over the years into an accessible resource library.   

Learn about Connecting.nyc Inc.’s thoughts for the future of city-TLDs.

Filed August 3rd, 2014 under Civics, Education

Low-Hanging-Fruit.0.png

Jackson Hts., New York, December 8, 2013 - I recently met with a fellow looking to take his talents in a new direction who inquired about opportunities presented by the .nyc TLD. I blabbered for a bit and then, with the time allotted for our meeting running out, I promised to give the question some thought and do a post. Here goes. (Expect additions to this list over time.)

  • Trust For Neighborhood Names - As of last count the city has 355 neighborhoods. Someone needs to start a Trust for Neighborhood Names to oversee the allocation, development, and oversight of the neighborhood domain names, e.g., Harlem.nyc. See dotNeighborhoods for more on this.
  • Regional Consolidation - From an outpost to a village to a city to 5 boroughs, New York has been growing for over 400 years. The TLD provides the opportunity for a second regional consolidation. We need a giant to lead this effort. See here.
  • Data Query Log -  Every request to be connected to a .nyc website results in a notation in a Data Query Log, part of the Internet’s Domain Name System or DNS. These log entries provide raw data for creating a “twitteresque” pulse of the city. Someone needs to make this widely available resource. See more here.
  • Chief Trust Officer - Success with .nyc will involve creating a City of Trust, a place where people locally and globally will feel confident that the .nyc sites they are visiting are trustworthy, respectful of their privacy, and that should something go wrong, there’s recourse. The city needs to appoint a Chief Trust Officer to align the city’s government, civic sector, and residents to achieve a concerted state of awareness and responsiveness. See Chief Trust Officer.      
  • Primary Names - Sports.nyc, news.nyc, weather.nyc, tours.nyc, hotels.nyc, and a few dozen other names will provide opportunities to create significant city resources, and make a decent living in the process.
  • Local Registrars - There’s a need for local name sellers, or registrars, that help residents and organizations learn how to best use .nyc domain names. These registrars might focus on direct sale of names, or as agents that assist web developers, law and accounting firms with name sales. 
  • The Voter Project -  This involves providing every registered voter with a web page that connects them to their neighborhood and the political process. It allows them to feel the pulse of the city and to vote (express an opinion) on the issues before their legislative bodies. See voter.nyc.

All of these opportunities will not necessarily arise. But if you focus on one, develop a plan, and encourage city hall to do its part, success might follow. (P.S. Helping residents transform these possibilities into reality is a key reason for our existence, so don’t hesitate to ask for our assistance.)

This list is by no means comprehensive. Peruse our wiki and blog for others and keep watching as we detail the development of our TLD. Our thanks to Wiki Commons for the Low Hanging Fruit graphic.

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

Filed December 7th, 2013 under Neighborhoods, social network, Domain Names, Education

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.

Wikimedia-DC-July-2012a.jpg Washington D.C., July 12, 2012 - Connecting.nyc Inc. (CnI) today announced the start of a pilot project supporting the organization’s dotNeighborhoods initiative. The pilot will focus on the development of a local media center serving the Jackson Heights neighborhood of New York City. With an active, civicly engaged population, perhaps the most culturally diverse population in the city, as well as the location of the organization’s home, the neighborhood is seen as providing a rich opportunity to discover the capacity of a locally controlled and operated media center to address the needs of a typical city neighborhood.

The announcement was made on a Local Wikis panel at Wikimania 2012, the annual meeting of the Wikimedia Foundation, publisher of Wikipedia, Wiktionary and other collaborative resources. The panel, organized and moderated by the U.S. Department of State, had representatives from several innovative local wiki projects: CnI’s director, Thomas Lowenhaupt, John Cummings of the U.K.’s Monmouthpedia, Richard Knipel of Wikimedia-NY, Philip Neustrom of Local Wiki, and Frank Muraca of Fairfaxpedia.

During his presentation Mr. Lowenhaupt described the experience gained from the NYCwiki.org project, a collaboration with the New York Internet Society and Wikimedia-NY. He described how 322 of the city’s 354 neighborhoods had been activated by users entering local information, wiki style.  

Mr. Lowenhaupt’s presentation outlined a pilot project for the Jackson Heights neighborhood that would offer four resource layers:  

  • Wiki - The great lesson from NYCwiki.org, the collaboration between CnI, Wikimedia-NY, and the New York Internet Society was that the public can be a willing contributor to local media projects. The neighborhood wiki will provide residents with the opportunity to preserve a community memory of events, resources, problems, opportunities, etc., providing a history to guide discussions about the neighborhood’s future.
  • Official Information - Information about the physical and institutional neighborhood: population, government services, places, maps, education and cultural resources, etc.
  • Communications - Providing a capacity to reach out and connect with neighbors using the latest digital media. In addition to an evolving stat-of-the-art Internet presence, this is to include outreach, education on the use of the wiki, computer recycling, and the location of public access points at libraries, schools, Wi-Fi hotspots, etc.
  • Decision Making - A capacity to facilitate discussions, guide decisions and engagement with the neighborhood’s future.

The project’s initial outreach effort will take place on Sunday, July 22, 2012 at a Town Hall Meeting on 78th Street in Jackson Heights (between Northern Boulevard and 34th Avenue). Staff and volunteers from Connecting.nyc will explain the goals and purposes of the project to Town Hall participants, and request that residents begin to load information on the projects site.

Over the next several months CnI will be selecting resources, including a domain name, to facilitate a transition from the NYCwiki.org site to the JacksonHeights.nyc address, expected to be released in 2014. Information about the dotNeighborhood initiative is available on our wiki. Those interested in following or contributing to the minute by minute development of the JacksonHeights.nyc pilot should watch here.  (Image by Patti: L to R, John Cummings, Richard Knipel, Thomas Lowenhaupt, Philip Neustrom, and Frank Muraca.)

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

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.

old-bicycle.jpg Jackson Hts., New York, May 9, 2012 - Need some relaxation after Internet Week? We’ve got just what you need. So pump up your bike’s tires, grab you cell, and join us in Mapping City Neighborhoods on Saturday, May 19 between 8 AM and 4 PM - after a busy Internet Week.

To participate you need a neighborhood map, a bike, and a cell phone with the New York Times Labs’ OpenPaths app installed. With those in hand you’ll be ready to bike around the perimeter of your neighborhood and then send us the data file - while getting healthy. See the details here.

Our Mapping City Neighborhoods initiative is a key part of our effort to create media centers in New York City’s neighborhoods upon the arrival of the .nyc TLD in 2013. We’ve big dreams for the new dotNeighborhoods - Astoria.nyc, BrooklynHeights.nyc, Chelsea.nyc, DonganHills.nyc, Edgewater.nyc, Flushing.nyc, GreenwichVillage.nyc, Harlem.nyc and 346 others - and maps are a important part.

We thank Internet Week  for helping us promote the event and the OpenPaths project for helping us gather the digital data. Start here to a healthier you and city.

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.

The-New-York-Times-T.jpgJackson Hts., New York, January 1, 2012 - When I first read the New York Times’ Christmas Day editorial calling for a pilot project in place of ICANN’s current one-size-fits-all new TLD plan, I saw the perfect opportunity to present our proposal for a step-by-step introduction of TLDs: cities first, then corporations, and finally the problematic generic TLDs - .art., .sports, .news etc. Read it here.

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

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Jackson Hts., New York, August 5, 2011 - Connecting.nyc Inc. last week filed comments on a Further Notice of Inquiry issued by the NTIA on a proposed contract with IANA (Internet Assigned Numbering Authority.)  IANA is responsible for the global coordination of the DNS Root, IP addressing, and other Internet protocol resources. 

Our comments focused on the formation and demonstration of consensus associated with filing an application for a new TLD, a vital task as public engagement is central to the optimization of the TLD’s operation and  equitable distribution of the resource.

The proposed IANA contract would require that it assure that community “consensus” was behind applications for new TLDs. We supported the consensus requirement, and we offered as guidance the point-based guidelines the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) uses to assess local engagement in Choice Neighborhood applications. For example, the HUD guidelines state:

Resident and Community Engagement – 3 points. For this rating factor, you will be evaluated based on the extent to which you demonstrate that you have involved and will continue to involve neighborhood residents (including residents of the targeted public and/or assisted housing), local businesses, and community organizations in a sustained, informed and substantive way in the development and implementation of the Transformation Plan. Your application should demonstrate the impact of their involvement in shaping the vision for the neighborhood.

(1) Points will be awarded to the extent that your application:

      (a) Describes how residents of all ages as well as community-based organizations and local businesses are, and will continue to be, well informed and substantively engaged in the neighborhood transformation planning and implementation process. Explains key roles these interested parties have played in shaping the development of the Transformation Plan, and how you will ensure that local stakeholders’ concerns remain at the forefront of decision-making moving forward;

      (b) Includes a summary of representative resident and community recommendations and concerns from meetings and other forms of communication and an explanation of how this resident and community input has been addressed through the components of your proposed Transformation Plan;

      (c) Describes the capacity building, training, and other supports that have been and/or will be provided to residents and the community in order to increase informed, substantive, and sustained participation in the development and implementation of the Transformation Plan and ensure long-term accountability to the proposed vision; and

      (d) Describes your system for tracking and monitoring local stakeholder satisfaction and how this has aided and will aid you in assessing and adapting your ongoing Resident and Community Engagement strategy.

(2) You will receive up to 3 points if you demonstrate that you have a feasible, well- defined, and high-quality Resident and Community Engagement strategy, which addresses all of the above criteria.

(3) You will receive fewer points for failure to address all of the above criteria, failure to address the criteria in a sufficient manner, and for lack of specificity.

(4) You will receive zero points for failure to demonstrate that your Resident and Community Engagement strategy addresses any of the above criteria or your application does not address this factor to an extent that makes HUD’s rating of this factor possible.

As well, we pointed to other consensus assessment resources in our comments which are available here.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

Filed August 6th, 2011 under Oversight, NTIA, Civics, Education, Governance
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