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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

King-Charles-II.jpgJackson Hts., New York, January 16, 2012 - When King Charles II and the Duke of York (later to be King James II) granted the land west of the Hudson to two loyal friends, they established the Hudson River as the boundary between New York and New Jersey. This legacy from the colonial era continues to plague our region with infrastructure, environment, and business planning taking place within myopic “state” views. The most recent instance of this, according to the New York Times, arose when New Jersey officials tried to lure the Fresh Direct from Queens to Jersey City with a $100 million package of tax breaks, land, and other subsidies.

Since 1921 the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has administered many common harbor and development interests – bridges, tunnels, rail, water, air, and teleports. But strategic planners declare that if the region is to grow and maintain its role in an increasingly globalized market, it must solve regional integration problems caused by the colonial era action.

A regional TLD provides an opportunity to begin repairing the damage of 1665. Our Regional Consolidation wiki page looks at this, as does the scenario raised in our dotNeighborhoods initiative about handling the hoboken.nyc domain name.

Around the globe, especially in Canada and Europe, cities are far ahead of the U.S. in creating regional entities. Let’s make the most of this digital opportunity. (Commons image of King Charles II, from Wikipedia.) 

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

urban-screen-in-public-area.jpg

Jackson Hts., New York, January 12, 2012 - Urbanflow, a Finish joint effort with Nordkapp, envisions an operating system for cities. The scenario explored in the 5 minute video revolves around situated urban screens and their potential uses (right). Worth a look. It concludes with “It’s going to happen somewhere, let’s make it happen here” with the “here” being Helsinki.

This is something that should be an integral part of a city-TLD’s development process. But few in the traditional registry-registrar industry that controls the ICANN environment have an inkling as to the potentials, with the possible exception of the Swiss registrar CORE. The industry’s business model, more names = more money, skews creative thinking about urban TLDs.

But with the rise of the Internet of Things and growing awareness of the value of trusted TLDs to decision-making machines like IBM’s Watson, some cities are beginning to look into the possibilities of city-TLDs as the platform. Here in New York we have the initiative of Pachube (meeting tonight!) that offers hope for the home team.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

City-Hall.JPG

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

NYCwiki.0.JPGNew York, July 16, 2011 - One year ago today a collaborative effort between Wikimedia New York, the Internet Society’s New York Chapter, and Connecting.nyc Inc. made the NYCwiki.org available for public editing.

And what a year it has been. Of the city’s 354 neighborhoods 215 have been taken their first steps toward being dotNeighborhoods. Here’s the breakdown by borough:

NYCWiki +1 Year - Progress Report
  Neighborhoods in Borough
dotNeighborhood starts
% starts
Bronx  65  46  61%
Brooklyn  84  47
 55%
Manhattan  59 33  55%
Queens  84  76  90%
Staten Island
 62  54  93%

In total, 64% of the city’s neighborhoods have moved forward with Staten Island leading the way with 93% starts. Go Si.

But there’s plenty of work remaining even on the best of the starts. So find your neighborhood and enter what you know. If you want to organize a concerted wikiazation of your ‘hood, let us know and we’ll highlight it on the NYCwiki home page. Harlem is the current Neighborhood of the Month. 

Plans for year 2 include:

  • Running training sessions for those unfamiliar with wiki editing, with the first session at the Langston Hughes Library in East Elmhurst later this summer.
  • Reaching 100% neighborhood starts.
  • Developing plans for adding higher level decision-making and collaboration layers.

With the ICANN having approved a TLD application process, by this time next year we should have a better idea on how neighborhood domain names will be governed and allocated. The better we plan it on our dotNeighborhood pages and on the NYCwiki, the more likely we’ll see our neighborhoods transformed into enriched civic treasures.

We’d like to offer our sincerest appreciation to the Internet Society-NY for their efforts, especially its V.P. Joly MacFie, whose work in installing and maintaining the MediaWiki platform has been instrumental in its superb up-time and virtually spam free operation. And to Richard Knipel of Wikimedia-NY who has helped with training and imagining other ways to add important public content to the NYCwiki. And to the hundreds who have contributed information about their neighborhoods.

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

digital-roadmap.jpgJackson Heights, New York, May 31, 2011 - Let me begin by saying that a digital road map is welcome. And, considering the 90 day deadline and staffing support, this Road Map’s author, Rachel Sterne, did an excellent job surveying the communication channels used and available to the city. (See Road Map.)

About the .nyc TLD, the Road Map says:

The City of New York is currently pursuing the introduction of the .nyc top-level domain, a global milestone that will enable innovation and digital services for residents, and economic advantages for businesses. New York City could be one of the world’s first cities to operate its own top-level domain, presenting enormous opportunities. The .nyc domain will be administered by a private vendor (emphasis ours) to be selected by doitt. The City is currently reviewing vendor candidates that responded to the City’s initial Request for Proposals (rfp), (emphasis ours) and plans to submit its application for the .nyc top-level domain when the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (icann) opens the application process. icann’s timeline is expected to be finalized after its official June 21, 2011 meeting, and the City of New York plans to apply when the application period opens. Only the vendor selected by New York City government will have the legal right to administer the .nyc domain. (See Report).

Where the Road Map says .nyc will be “administered by a private vendor” we have problems; but then it refers to “the City’s initial Request for Proposals which left us with some hope, as explained below.

The .nyc domain will be administered by a private vendor”

I can best explain the problem with this statement by relating a chat I had with a fellow city TLD advocate (let’s call him Joe) shortly after the December 2010 ICANN meeting in Cartagena, Colombia. I spotted him dining in an ornate Cuban restaurant and stopped to say hello. Joe spoke a simple sentence that exemplified the broad divide between the traditional DNS industry, which holds great sway at ICANN, and the vision we hold of .nyc as a public interest resource. Our chat focused on the meeting’s progress toward issuing the long sought Application Guidebook that would set the path for cities to apply for their TLDs, and after a bit Joe concluded with:

  • “I can’t wait until they issue the Guidebook so we can start selling names.”

Our answer to the What’s to look forward to when city TLDs arrive question is an ocean apart:

  • “When the .nyc TLD arrives we can more effectively use the Net to address the needs of our city.”

So when the Road Map says that “The .nyc domain will be administered by a private vendor,” without indicating the public interest or public input into the TLD’s design, development, and operation, we see the city taking Joe’s “name sales” approach and chucking the public interest. And with the contractor selection process a secret one, we’ve little reason for optimism about the outcome.

Our contacts with prospective contractors confirmed that they hold the standard “more-names-is-better” industry perspective. With our long involvement and advocacy for a public interest TLDs, we were contacted by a few of the prospective “private vendors” about being a community partner to their .nyc proposals. But when we indicated our commitment to the Internet Empowerment Resolution and our determination to see the public interest served, they lost interest, with one saying “We don’t see a community application being compatible with our sales plan.” 

In short, from what we’ve been able to paste together from talks with city officials and likely vendors, those under consideration are firms such as NeuStar and Verisign that have their expertise and make their money by selling domain names, not building cities.

We advocate for the creation of a policy body that oversees the TLD’s sustainable operation and development as a public interest resource. This policy entity should foster a contract with a “private vendor” to oversee the plan’s technical requirements - not to maximize name sales. (Name sales will be a part of the plan, not its driving force.)

“the city’s initial Request for Proposals”

But we were pleased to see the Road Map refer to an “initial Request for Proposal” as we’ve advocated for a more expansive view of the planning process to include what we’ve nicknamed the CARPA Study, to be followed by ULURP-like public hearings. And in February, in a conversation with the Road Map’s author Rachel Sterne, she indicated she “absolutely hope(s) to engage the public as much as we can” in the review process - see here. We’ve got our fingers crossed.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

MIT.jpgCambridge, Massachusetts, April 8, 2011 - Thomas Lowenhaupt, Connecting.nyc Inc.’s founding director, presented a paper at the April 8, 2011 UrbanTech Conference at MIT. The conference was sponsored by the Department of Urban Studies as Planning (DUSP). The paper, City Top Level Domains as Urban Infrastructure, reviewed the ways a thoughtfully developed city-TLD can be instituted as digital infrastructure. See the presentation report.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

« Previous Page

Categories