• Public Spaces

last modified March 14, 2015 by tomlowenhaupt

Our traditional pre-digital city provided a number of public spaces to facilitate transportation, communication, leisure, and civic affairs. Access to these streets, parks, plazas, sidewalks, libraries, subways, buses... enables residents to participate in business and civil society and provides the basis of a livable city.  Here we discuss the role, identification, and support of public spaces on the .nyc TLD.


 Public Space Resources
  • Digital Space and Democracy
      • On May 17, 2014 Thomas Lowenhaupt presented a program for supporting digital public spaces at the Liberation Technology Conference held at New York University.
            • Issues.nyc
            • Change.nyc
            • Organize.nyc
            • Decide.nyc
            • Voters.nyc
            • Forums.nyc
          • Needed: Servers - tech support- oversight
          • Operating Funds - $1 per year per domain name.
















      When our ancestors laid out Manhattan's street grid in the Commissioners' Plan of 1811, they failed to carve out space for Central Park. Our city's need for a great public park was voiced by poet and editor William Cullen Bryant, and American's first landscape architect, Andrew Jackson Downing, who began to publicize the city's need for a public park in 1844. That effort culminated in the NYS Legislature allocating 5 million dollars to acquire the land for what is now Central Park in 1853. As per Wikipedia,

      "Before the construction of the park could start, the area had to be cleared of its inhabitants,[7] most of whom were quite poor and either free African Americans or residents of English or Irish origin. Most of them lived in small villages, such as Seneca Village, Harsenville, or the Piggery District; or in the school and convent at Mount St. Vincent's Academy. Around 1,600 residents occupying the area at the time, were evicted under the rule of eminent domain during 1857."

      In the years since, new public spaces needed to be cleared to accommodate airports, the automobile, beaches, etc. And in each case huge financial allocations, and frequently human dislocations, were required.


      Our democracy was in many respects defined by the First Amendment which provided for civic access to public spaces. What public spaces are we to set aside as we develop the .nyc TLD?

      As of March 1, 2015 the city had sold 72,103 domain names, with 21,000 names created but not allocated. The unallocated fall into three categories.
      • 800 Reserved Names – Names set aside to serve the public’s benefit. Three fourths of these names are those of neighborhoods or Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), e.g., see 125thstreet.nyc. Included also are some generic and category names, e.g., taxi.nyc, tours.nyc, and digital.nyc, about which we have more to say below.
      • 3,092 Premium Names – These names were set aside for distribution through high-bid auctions, scheduled to begin in early 2015. We’ve advocated for attaching Public Interest Commitments (PICs) to many of these names, believing social and economic equity and a stronger TLD will result. A recent  panel report detailed these recommendations.
      • 17,000 Collision Names – The “Collision” names were excluded from allocation pending a review of their impact on the operation of existing networks. Mayor.nyc and our own connecting.nyc are two of the good names stuck in this batch. The vast majority of collision names are of little consequence, but all are expected to become available in mid 2015.

      The process for selecting and allocating public space names has not been shared with the public.

      Leadership in developing digital public spaces is found in Europe where a Name Space Mandates project is being used to allocate names in Paris, Barcelona, and Madrid. We prepared an Americanized version as Cyber Land Use Plan that presents the issues and opportunities.

      Some decisions on public spaces are seemingly simple and obvious, others not so.

      • Space Types
        • Parallel name spaces
          • CentralPark.nyc is clearly a name that should be set aside. But to whom is it assigned - the Central Park Conservancy or the city's Parks Department?
          • Neighborhood names
          • The Domain Name Allocation Plan offers many suggestions
        • New spaces
          • Issue names - policing.nyc, sanitation.nyc, education.nyc, etc.
          • Organizing names such as described at Voter.nyc

      Funding The Digital Public Spaces

          • $1 per year per domain name

          Key .nyc Pages