JShift-Day-composit-b.jpgackson Hts., New York, January 17, 2011 - Recall February 2009 and the huge awareness campaign surrounding the transition from traditional analog TV to the new digital TV. Shift Day will celebrate the switch from the first generation .com Internet to the more local, organized, intuitive city-friendly .nyc Internet. 

In preparation for that transition process, New Yorkers will need to be informed about the utility of .nyc and the advantages that will arise from our working together to develop and protect our good name. 

With a thoughtfully introduced .nyc TLD, Shift Day will generate awareness, civic pride, and a willingness to cooperate for the common good. Help us plan it from our Shift Day wiki page. And while there, read the sidebar story from an 1889 Harper’s Weekly on squatting during the Oklahoma Gold Rush, pictured above.

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.^

          wikineighborhoods-logo-55.JPGNew York, June 19, 2010 - How do you make both historic and current neighborhood information available in New York City? How do you create that information? Who curates and maintains it? These are a few of the questions that will be answered by the WikiNeighborhoods project.

          WikiNeighborhoods is a collaboration between Wikimedia New York City, The Internet Society of New York, and Connecting.nyc. It is an extension of our dotNeighborhoods initiative creating content for locally run websites for each of New York City’s neighborhoods. It will test the “wiki model”, as seen in Wikipedia/Wikimedia projects and a growing number of city wiki efforts.

          WikiNeighborhoods will collaboratively document New York City’s neighborhoods and provide new avenues of civic cooperation and engagement for city residents. The project will initially develop  resources for 10 neighborhoods, 2 for each of the five boroughs. Project planning is taking place at Wikiversity with initial implementation using a .org domain, e.g., nyc-neighborhoods.org. Finally with .nyc’s activation, the dotNeighborhoods will move to their permanent sites - Astoria.nyc, BrooklynHeights.nyc, GreenwichVillage.nyc, Harlem,nyc. Jackson Heights.nyc, etc.

          Wikiversity is a Wikimedia Foundation project devoted to learning resources, learning projects, and research for use in all levels, types, and styles of education from pre-school to university, including professional training and informal learning. It invites teachers, students, and researchers to join in creating open educational resources and collaborative learning communities. 

          The Internet Society-NY is the local branch of the global Internet Society, an independent international nonprofit organization founded in 1992 to provide leadership in Internet related standards, education, and policy around the world.

          Develop a dotNeighborhood using the wiki method.

          Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page.

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          ­Top Selling .com Names
          ­­­­­­­ 1.  sex.com $14,000,000
           2.  fund.com     9,999,950
           3.  ­porn.com     9,500,000
           4.  business.com     7,500,000
           5.  diamonds.com     7,500,000
           6.  beer.com     7,000,000
           7.  AsSeenOnTV.com 
              5,100,000
           8.  Korea.com     5,000,000
           9.  casino.com     5,000,000
           10.  seo.com     5,000,000­

          ­­­­­­New York, April 19, 2010 - 9 years ago ­today Queens Community Board 3 passed the Internet Empowerment Resolution calling for the acquisition of the .nyc TLD and its development as a public interest resource. Back then, the world was aware of the value of domain names as marketing tools. Our Resolution initiated thinking about the potential of city-TLDs within the realms of community building, civic governance, and economic development.

          Today, in the commercial realm, the value of good marketing names - those that are short, descriptive, and memorable - continues to rise. There’s no S.E.C. overseeing name sales, and many question the “truthiness” of some claimed prices, but the Top 10 List at right, from shoutmeloud.com, is representative of similar domain name sale lists. The lottery-like increase in name sale prices, from an original $10 to $100 paid in the mid-1990s to millions today, have speculators drooling over city-TLDs. And I’m often asked about the prices I expect to see for .nyc names: Will there be big winners like in .com?

          When and how much?­

          Within the realm of city-TLDs we’re just on the cusp of learning their utility and value and will only know for sure when city-TLDs go live. The issuance process has moved at the speed of a pitch drop, but we’re getting close. My estimate is that ICANN finalizes the new TLD application process by year’s end, receives new TLD applications in 2011, with some city-TLDs going live in 2012.

          So what will .nyc names be worth? There’s potentially bad news for the gambling types in that our Domain Name Allocation Plan points the way to a name distribution process that might avoid a .com-like speculative boom, and put most speculative wins into education and other digital inclusion projects. And there’s growing recognition amongst city leaders of its utility.

          But there is reason to believe that some quite valuable domain names will arrive with the .nyc TLD. We stumbled upon the first of these through an odd turn of events that led us to participate in the Minds in the Gutter competition. To understand this, I need to provide some background.

          The Clean Water Act of 1972

          Every time it rains in New York City, our combined sewer system gobbles up stormwater running off hard surfaces - roadways, sidewalks, rooftops, and parking lots - and directs it into the same network of pipes that carry our raw (toilet) sewage. When it rains the processing plants quickly reach capacity and the stormwater and raw sewage flow untreated into local waterways on the order of 27 billion gallons per year. This limits how New Yorkers can safely access the waterfront, and impairs our estuary ecosystem. The Clean Water Act of 1972 solidified the nation’s commitment to clean its river, bay, and ocean waters and New York has sought to comply with the law and find solutions to its stormwater problem ever since.

          But while we’ve made progress, we’ve not been able to meet the Act’s requirements and the city faces stiff fines and the prospect of building two huge stormwater holding tanks to meet the clean water standards. Minds in the Gutter was one of many efforts seeking  civil engineering solutions to this problem. Its focus was on ways to stop stormwater from reaching the sewers via solutions like porous streets that would enable rain to become ground water.

          In my years on Community Board 3 I’d participated on its Flushing Bay Committee which sought solutions to the stormwater and other bay problems. When I saw the Minds in the Gutter announcement the gray matter bubbled and I thought - Might the .nyc TLD play a role in solving this problem? Is there a software engineering solution that might match or better traditional civil engineering solutions?

          So I tried to imagine a solution that would use the Net and civic spirit - the core of the advances we hope to achieve with a city-TLD. What we submitted was a proposal that uses crowdsourcing to connect residents, their toilets, and the weather to stop this pollution at its source. It was built around a mundane domain name that describes something universal in our city: toilets.nyc. For the proposal’s raw details see The Flushing Community wiki page. And to get a first look at the summary presentation of our software / social / community engineering plan, come to its unveiling at the Museum of the City of New York on Thursday, April 22, 6:30 PM.

          About that $2.3 billion

          If our Flushing Community proposal proves totally successful, that is, residents city-wide participate in the “Flushing Community,” and this succeeds cleansing our sewerage system enough to comply with Clean Water Act standards, constructing those two huge stormwater retention tanks would not be necessary. And thus, the toilets.nyc domain name would save the city the expense of building them - that’s a $2,300,000,000 saving. See the city’s Stormwater Management Plan here.

          The challenge is creating a city-wide Flushing Community. How do we do that?

          Shift Day

          There are many instances where city residents have joined to make significant change. In the past few decades I’ve joined and/or cheered my fellow residents in picking up after our dogs, recycling garbage, and most recently, not smoking in bars and restaurants. In the instance of the Flushing Community, the rewards are money in our pockets (that $2.3 billion) and clean swimmable waters. And the cost are negligible. If it’s beneficial and relatively easy to do, precedent says we’ll do it.

          The trick is creating awareness, simplicity of participation,  and community. (And a down side is that in this instance we won’t have an effective force of law behind the effort, as we did in the developments cited above.) We can’t do it without creating a voluntary and broad community of Flushing New Yorkers who recognize and act in the common interest.

          The beauty of toilets.nyc is that it would be part of Shift Day - that glorious day when we switch from the old .com Net to the new local .nyc Net. It will be a day when there’s universal awareness of the great change. On that day neighborhood names, small business names, subway station names, street names, government service names, and hundreds of other aspects of our existence will suddenly shift into digital accessibility via our more organized and intuitive .nyc Internet. Within that Shift, New Yorkers will be enlightened to the size and connectivity of our .nyc community (we’re only 1/10th of 1% of the world’s population and we need to work together to thrive). If the .nyc TLD is thoughtfully introduced, on Shift Day we’ll be able to generate civic pride, awareness, and a willingness to participate in a common sacrifice and common good, such as the Flushing Community.

          [Alternately, we might just buy a name like toilets.com for a few hundred K and build the Flushing Community upon it. But the cost of building civic spirit around that single effort would be substantial, and drawn out. And it would eliminate one building block of Shift Day, which will happen for better or for worse. The more and firmer the blocks the better the foundation.]

          If toilets.nyc is worth $2.3 billion, what’s the value of the .nyc TLD?

          Within the realm of Internet of Things there are a few hundred possibilities for other valuable names. However, the value is only realized when woven into the city’s social or infrastructure fabric, and no one’s yet evaluated these names.

          And the value realized from using .nyc to create a trusted economic zone, where the world feels safe doing business, is totally unknown. So too is the value of the neighborhood names, which will provide good local communication for the first time; and my favorite, voters.nyc. How do you put a dollar value on improved community and governance? I’ve not calculated that, other than to say - a whole lot. But I promise to return 9 years from now (Pitchdrop is my middle name) with a more definitive answer.

          The key point we’d like to make on this 9th anniversary of the Internet Empowerment Resolution is that toilets.nyc is just one domain name. Let’s ponder, dream, think, study, explore, and research about the entire set of domain names that will arrive with the .nyc TLD and make sure Shift Day is one we will all benefit from in a thousand ways.

          Learn more about our overall effort. Start at our Wiki Home Page.

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