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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

NTIA-logo.0.JPGJackson Heights, New York, June 15, 2011 - The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) yesterday published a Further Notice of Inquiry (FNOI) concerning the process ICANN must follow in issuing new TLDs. The relevant paragraph for the .nyc TLD reads: 

Responsibility and Respect for Stakeholders — The Contractor shall, in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders for this function, develop a process for documenting the source of the policies and procedures and how it has applied the relevant policies and procedures, such as RFC 1591, to process requests associated with TLDs. In addition, the Contractor shall act in accordance with the relevant national laws of the jurisdiction which the TLD registry serves. For delegation requests for new generic TLDS (gTLDs), the Contractor shall include documentation to demonstrate how the proposed string has received consensus support from relevant stakeholders [highlights ours] and is supported by the global public interest.

The NTIA is accepting comments on the FNOI until July 29, with the full FNOI and the process and address for submitting comments available here.

Our initial thoughts are that it would be good to further define “relevant stakeholders.” And we will be submitting comments to NTIA by July 29 to add our support for the direction they are headed and to suggest some clarity.

But let’s presume for the moment that the final Statement of Work arising from this NTIA review goes through pretty mush as is. Several questions arise.

Who are the “relevant stakeholders” for the .nyc TLD? Internet users? Small businesses using websites? Small businesses planning to use websites? Residents? Residents using the Internet? Registered voters? Tourists? Former residents? Those who love and wish they lived in New York? The city’s big businesses? Businesses selling products in NYC and with a permanent presence? Big businesses selling products in NYC but without a presence? Wall Street? Civic groups? Community Boards? The city of New York? The city council? The Comptroller? The Public Advocate? The office of the mayor? The governor? The state legislature? The city university? Our private universities? Religious institutions? Charities? The homeless? School children? Future generations? And what of the region: do those living a stone’s throw across the Hudson and working in the city have a say? What about those living across the Hudson or in our reservoir supply region, not working in the city, but strongly influenced by city policies, should they have a say? What about the prospective contractors who will operate the computers that maintain the database of .nyc names, and the prospective retailers of these names? Our experience from attending hundreds or meetings and discussing .nyc with thousands of people over the past 10 years is that all of these have an interest in the development of the .nyc TLD and therefore have a stake in its development and continuation.

This raises another question: Should each group have equal weight in determining the consensus policy? Obviously resident views should have more weight than tourist or wannabe views, but coming up with a fair weighting process will be challenging. The experience of the commons community could be of great assistance here. And the multi-stakeholder model that governs the ICANN and the IGF provide other relevant experience.

Next: Who should determine the relevant .nyc TLD stakeholders and coordinate a review and consensus development? Our vote is the Internet Society, in consultation with the mayor and city council. Yesterday’s INET sponsored by the Internet Society and ISOC-NY attracted the top Federal and City government IT policy leaders, a father of the Internet, Vint Cerf, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the web, and 250 others. It was masterfully organized, lived streamed globally, and demonstrated that ISOC knows the issues and has the wherewithal to undertake such a massive review. (Disclosure: our founder is a member of the ISOC-NY’s board of directors.)

Finally, how long will this review take and how is this convening of stakeholders to be financed? Deciding on the review organization(s) and structure, identifying members, securing a budget, preliminary research, on and off line public hearings, report preparation and distribution requires about two years. But no one’s going to snatch .nyc from the New York Community, so the key is to get this right. It’s a matter of careful preparation so that when the application for .nyc reaches ICANN, it details that a thoughtful evaluation process took place, leading to a consensus by all stakeholders. The Internet Society should provide a start up budget for the local chapter. ICANN should view this as model making for city-TLDs, make a financial contribution and assign staff to coordinate with its ongoing activities. The city should make a contribution, as should a foundation with an interest in New York City, perhaps the Sloan or Rockefeller Foundations. Each of the other organized stakeholder groups should kick in something, and a Kickstart should be initiated to facilitate public participation and civic awareness.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

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

dotNYC-at-Paley-Center-Carol-Rachel-Seth-with.0.jpgThe Paley Center, New York, February 11, 2011 - Asked by Connecting.nyc Inc.’s Tom Lowenhaupt about progress on selecting the fundamental model for the development of the .nyc TLD - i.e., will the city follow a Standard TLD model like .com or .org, or one that facilitates a sustainable TLD and engages the public in local decision making processes, the Community Model - New York City’s IT Commissioner Carole Post stated that no decision has been made.

Ms. Post’s response was made at an Open Government and The Transformation of New York City’s Digital Environment panel, part of Social Media Week. The panel discussed “the City’s use of social media and technology to better serve its customers and promote economic development.” On the dais with Ms. Post were Seth W. Pinsky, New York City Economic Development Corporation President and Rachel Sterne, New York City Chief Digital Officer.

The panel provided an introduction to Rachel Sterne, the City’s first Chief Digital Officer who assumed the role just three weeks ago. She described her challenge as improving the interface between the public and city government using social media.

With the “no decision” report from Commissioner Post, Mr. Lowenhaupt suggested that Ms. Sterne take the .nyc TLD under her wings and facilitate crowdsourcing and other participative technologies in the analysis and decision making process regarding the design of the city’s new digital infrastructure. The CDO responded “absolutely hope to engage the public as much as we can.” See the Post / Sterne  Q&A video.

Background: On December 23, 2009 the city received responses to its Request for Proposals seeking a firm to assist its acquisition of the .nyc TLD. There was no public participation in scoping the RFP, and there has been no city council hearing or other public engagement in the evaluation and decision making process. (Image from the Connecting.nyc Collection.)

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

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A Superbowl Message on Governance of .nyc?

“Green Bay Packers, Inc., has been a publicly owned, nonprofit corporation since Aug. 18, 1923, when original articles of incorporation were filed with Wisconsin’s secretary of state.

A total of 4,750,937 shares is owned by 112,158 stockholders — none of whom receives any dividend on the initial investment.

The corporation is governed by a board of directors and a seven member executive committee.

One of the more  remarkable business stories in American history, the team is kept viable by its shareholders — its unselfish fans. Even more incredible, the Packers have survived during the current era, permeated by free agency and the NFL salary cap. And, thanks in large part to Brown County’s passage of the 2000 Lambeau Field referendum, the club will remain solvent and highly competitive well into the future due to its redeveloped stadium.

Fans have come to the team’s financial rescue on several occasions, including four previous stock sales: 1923, 1935, 1950 and 1997. That’s stability.

To protect against someone taking control of the team, the articles of incorporation prohibit any person from owning more than  200,000 shares.”

Hummm? Who owns the .nyc TLD?

For related info, see our Common Pool Resource page. Image and text from Green Bay website.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

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

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We’re sponsoring a general meeting about the .nyc TLD on Wednesday, October 27, 7 PM. Three items are on the agenda.

  • An intro to NYCwiki.org, our collaboration with Wikimedia NYC and the Internet Society-NY  to prepare for that glorious day when .nyc goes live and the dotNeighborhood names are activated, i.e., Astoria.nyc, BrooklynHeights.nyc, Chelsea.nyc, Douglaston.nyc… and 350 others.  Hear Richard Knipel, president of Wikimedia NYC talk about the development and progress of the wiki neighborhoods collaboration.

  • Next, Tom Lowenhaupt, Connecting.nyc Inc.’s director, will provide an update on the .nyc TLD’s status, including a report on the City-TLD Governance and Best Practices workshop he moderated in Vilnius, Lithuania on September 17th. The workshop was part of the U.N.’s 5th meeting the Internet Governance Forum and points the way toward global collaboration between dotCities.
  • Finally, Jack Eichenbaum, the new Queens Historian, will provide insight into the nature of city neighborhoods.

That’s Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 7 PM at the Neighborhood Preservation Center, 232 East 11th Street. RSVP to tom@connectingnyc.org. See the meeting report.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

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Vilnius, Lithuania, September 17, 2010 - At the 5th Internet Governance Forum in Vilnius, Lithuania, leaders from government, civil society, and business gathered to discuss the design, development, and operation of city-TLDs. Participants at the City-TLD Governance and Best Practices workshop made the following recommendations:

  • City-TLD proponents should prepare a preliminary definition of public interest TLDs, using resources such as the Paris Understanding.
  • An organization of proponents of public interest city-TLDs be formed.
  • Literature should be prepared to inform mayors of the world of the utility of city-TLDs, and that it be distributed through their best practices organizations.
  • Via petition and other mechanisms, the thoughtful and rapid approval of city-TLDs should be presented to the ICANN.
  • Such petition to the ICANN should note that the operation of city government, the quality of city life, and the sustainability of cities will be improved by the thoughtful issuance and development of city-TLDs.
  • Such petition should also note the unsuitability of the proposed filing fees, technology requirements, and registry/registrar separation for city-TLDs proposed in the Draft Application Guidebook, especially for less developed areas.
  • The petition should note that the acceptance of city-TLDs as a distinct category of TLDs, governed under the existing laws of nation-states; unencumbered by traditional concerns about trademark stress; and governed by responsible entities will free the ICANN to focus on more problematic TLD categories.
  • That nation-states be contacted through the members of the ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee (GAC) and other channels and requested to assemble a list of cities with an existing interest in TLDs.
  • That a list of cities proposing public interest TLDs be submitted to ICANN.
  • That a dedicated unit within ICANN be created to process public interest city-TLD applications.
  • That cities on such a list be processed and approved in an expedited manner.
  • That trademark issues be closely considered. 
  • That the city-TLD advocacy organization create city-to-city processes and communication channels to share best practices.

See City-TLD Governance and Best Practices - Report for the full workshop details and the follow-up page for responses under consideration. (Photo courtesy of Patti Shubitz.)

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

­­­google-in-parade.JPGNew York, December 29, 2009 - Adam Raff’s recent  New York Times Op-Ed Search, But You May Not Find paralleled an issue we have been concerned about for some time - search transparency. While Adam focused on the damage from corporate shenanigans, our concerns have centered more on the impact the Google search engine’s lack of transparency might have on civic affairs. For example, we’re likely to see Google confronting city zoning regula­tions for a variance to build inspirational office space for its expanding enterprises: How would Google rank the activities of organizations leading the opposition? Would individual opponents be able to locate the opposition? Or would the opposition be custom coded to screen land on page 13? Transparency = trust.

And imagine if Google “winner$” begin running for public office, how are we to trust its opaque search algorithm during the rough and tumble of an election campaign? Then we’d clearly see the relationship between link and ballot voting.

Transparent search - a far easier metric than Raff’s search neutrality - is vital to our city’s having level commercial and civic playing fields. We’re looking for resources that foster the creation and assessment of transparent search engines for the .nyc TLD. Follow developments on this via our Transparent Search wiki page. ­ ­(Commons photo courtesy of http://aiblsuki.blog122.fc2.com/blog-entry-95.html.)

Learn about .nyc on our wiki pages.

air-pollution.JPGNew York, December 1, 2009 - How we allocate and manage our digital infrastructure is perhaps the central question surrounding the development of the .nyc TLD. What is an effective, efficient, and equitable domain name distribution policy and how do we govern its implementation and oversight?

Our Governance Ecology page provides a number of thoughts on this and today we add two others - common pool resource and common pool regimes.   

Elinor Ostrom, an American political scientist and winner of the 2009 Noble Prize for economics, identifies eight “design principles” of stable local ­common pool resource (CPR) management. Typical common-pool resources include irrigation systems, fishing grounds, pastures, forests, water, and the atmosphere. A first reading of her work indicates many similarities between these resources and a TLD. What can we learn from these, her 8 principles?

  • Clea­rly defined boundaries (effective exclusion of external unentitled parties);
  • ­Rules regarding the appropriation and provision of common resources are adapted to local conditions;
  • Collective-choice arrangements allow most resource appropriators to participate in the decision-making process;
  • Effective monitoring by monitors who are part of or accountable to the appropriators;
  • There is a scale of graduated sanctions for resource appropriators who violate community rules;
  • Mechanisms of conflict resolution are cheap and of easy access;
  • The self-determination of the community is recognized by higher-level authorities;
  • In the case of larger common-pool resources: organization in the form of multiple layers of nested enterprises, with small local CPRs at the base level.­

­See our ­common pool resources wiki page for more on this “experience of the ages” addition to our governance considerations. (­Commons photo courtesy Sheila.)

Learn about .nyc on our wiki pages.

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