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To go where people are, to be where people think, to present what people desire and to give people what they want to have

2016-03-22 in Uncategorized

Yesterday’s blog post was in large part prodded by one of my friends who keeps saying I should publish my writing in print – as if that were more a sign of success than if I publish my own ideas on my own properties (and this friend is also not exactly fond of the „self-publishing“ idea in general, even though in my opinion that is perhaps one of the few ways one can be truly authentic).

Today’s blog post is inspired by another one of my very inspirational friends – and there is a similarity between the two threads insofar as they both touch upon the notion of property. Today, I want to address one of this friend’s issues with my thinking about „social media“ (though in fact I normally focus on retard media – which is not exactly the same thing, though the two predicates indeed often fit the same somewhat less than noble prize-winners 😉 ).

The sans-culottes 2.0 have an affinity to aggregate on the most popular websites … like Google or Facebook (or similar brand names that happen to be in fashion at the moment). They appear to feel that there is some sort of significance to large clusters of such congregations. Few consider such herd mentality questionable, many are more prone to pronounce „YAHOO!“ at the top of their lungs’ capacity. They are #1 because the numbers say so. In my humble opinion the numbers are meaningless, because each of them is no more valuable than a single grain of sand upon thousands of miles of beaches. Their numbers and statistical prowess are far less impressive than something as simple as the salt of the Earth.

Heavyweight monstrosities such as Google or Facebook (or the more or less similar dozens of unicorns behind them) are no more significant than the dead and gone monstrosities that have come before them, only to vanish from the face of the Earth. Their existence is ephemeral, they come and go with the whims of the loud and screaming mobs who trample this way today, that way tomorrow, and then back again the next day with yet more new signs and banners they daily swear by with ever-present enormous valour.

Less than a decade ago, Digg was a force to be reckoned with on both Wall Street and Main Street, not the biggest laughing stock of yesteryear. Random strings blowing in the wind do not bring about change, they merely dissipate and whither away. Even vaporware would be an overestimation of their non-lasting worth.

The crucial question is: What distinguishes properties with lasting value from such ephemeral brand names? Years ago, the masses would scream: „A dot com“ (meaning the domain name’s „ending“ or more precisely „top-level domain“, also often referred to by the abbreviation „TLD“). Well, how much did the dot com help Digg or Myspace? Right: Not one iota.

Having a property is not good enough. To be of lasting value, you need the right property. A valuable property is etched deep in the mind of its users – it is as irreplacable as their own mother, there is a kinship as deeply rooted as the sunrise which awakens their spirit every morning, day after day, throughout their lives.

Valuable names are usually not names per se. They are the words spoken time and again at breakfast, lunch and dinner alike.

Valuable words are few and far between. They are short and simple. A „home“ will be just as valuable decades from now as it is today. A „car“ was not always a gasoline-powered vehicle, nor will it remain so until the end of time – but it will probbably remain a valuable concept in many contexts.

Written language is a technology that has developed over more than just a few years, more than just a few decades, longer even than entire centuries. It has been at the very least many millennia since writing was first developed. There are quite a few four-letter words, but not an infinite number. In contrast: Google is probably just a passing phase.

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The Big Top-Level Domain Closeout

2015-12-12 in Uncategorized

Throughout ICANN’s plan to launch hundreds and thousands of new „top level domains“ (TLDs), I have been rather skeptical of the way the Internet was privatized (I refer to these new top-level domains not as „generic“ but rather as „proprietary“ – as they are, by and large, being granted to private corporations who have little or no responsilities to the wider public). Indeed, taking a rather cynical perspective, one might be able to argue that the whole operation was intended as a sort of „last ditch“ effort to keep the administration of the Internet in the United States of America.

While that may all be good and fine, there is another factor that has so far gone overlooked (even by me! 😯 ).

Whenever a registry which was previously administered in centrally managed subdivisions (such as the .UK registry was previously subdivide in .CO.UK, .ORG.UK and .ME.UK) opens registrations in a „free for all“ manner, that closes off such managed subdivisions to further development. For example, if it were not possible to register any .UK subdomain (besides „CO“, „ORG“ and „ME“), then the .UK registry could still launch a new subdomain (e.g. „.NEW.UK“). Once this is no longer possible, the value of all previous subdivisions should logically go up significantly – as these centrally managed subdivisions thereby immediately become limited resources.

Likewise, each and every previously launched generic TLD immediately became much more valuable as soon as ICANN introduced the new „free for all“ proprietary top-level domains.

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Publishing Relaunched

2015-09-23 in Uncategorized

Recently — over the past several days to a couple of weeks — I have been chatting with some of my friends about publishing concepts like titles and the corresponding equivalents in an online setting. My hunch has been for many years that domain names are the closest equivalent to what a title was in the traditional publishing model. I still believe that by and large, but there are some nuances in an online setting that make it an entirely different “ecosystem” (I’ve always hated that word, but somehow it seems to fit quite well there).

Today I came across an article (which I have already quoted in the Activity stream). Here’s an excerpt from what I already quoted:

here are my Minds + Machines “premium” domain names at Hexonet that I will not be renewing

This article precipitated a “click” in my brain. To put this in old-fashioned terms, I feel this is a situation that is more or less equivalent to an author giving a publisher the finger. When I saw it this way, I also reflected a little more on the variable pricing schemes that have become “standard operating procedure” in this new online publishing world. I can imagine, for example, a celebrity game designer being “offered” the opportunity to publish their game on such a premium domain name (without needing to pay a premium price, but perhaps instead by signing some sort of contract with the publisher).

In my opinion, this is a momentous change in the history of the web. I feel we are now at the precipice of a whole new web — maybe a web 3.0? — in which the plethora of traditional print publishers may no longer matter much at all. In the future, the publishing landscape will be shaped by competition of web publishers… and by that I do not mean “desktop publishing” or even “blog software”. I mean, for example: “News” publishing (which I also wrote about just yesterday — a story in which “News” is the publishing house which belongs to the new online media conglomerate “Rightside”). In this case, “Apple” is the celebrity (company) that apparently signed a contract — but so far nothing has been actually delivered (as the name doesn’t resolve yet).

This new online publishing landscape is still very new. Some readers may be reminded of the term “ecunabula” (which was first used maybe about a decade or two [or three? or more?] ago, but which also seems to fit here). The legal ramifications from all of this turmoil in the publishing landscape (remember earlier this summer, when many traders on Wall Street were tricked into thinking they were reading news published by Bloomberg, but actually they were reading something else — leading to some swings in stock market valuations) are by and large unknown.

I have a hunch that quite a few of these new online media publishers will go out of business within the next few years. Some may remain, but only in a rather rickety form — and be among the less reputable cadre of the online publishing industry. Only a few will survive “thrivingly” to join the big leagues of reputable, large scale, well-known publishing houses — and it is a very safe bet that COM will be among them. It is a quite safe bet that indeed most generic top level domains will be among the most reputable of online publishing houses. Perhaps some country code top level domains will also be among this group. Whether any proprietary top level domains will be among this group, however… that remains an open question, yet to be resolved — and I personally have significant reservations on this point.

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An Optimistic Point of View on the New Generic Top Level Domains: Possibilities Pointing to a Positive Outlook for the Viability of Regional and Topical Names

2015-08-27 in Uncategorized

A while back I wrote off the new generic top level domains as little more than proprietary fiefdoms for the largest and most exploitative capitalist media conglomerates to reap inordinate profits from (and also to exploit in other ways). I did not actually detail any examples of such exploitation, and since I have very little interest in the vast majority of these new so-called “generic” top level domains, I have also not looked into them closely enough to be able to provide any hard facts in this regard. Let me instead provide a “what if” fictional story… a sort of case study of what might happen if things went terribly wrong.

Suppose, then, just for the sake of argument, that Google’s acquisition of the rights to the “APP” top level domain led the company to become evil, perhaps even sinister. Imagine they would use this top level domain to install spyware and perhaps even stuff like viruses in order to take over the phones belonging people who visited “dot APP” sites. This would probably be so egregious, that even though the NSA might be aided with such privacy violations, the government would surely clamp down and put this sort of industrial espionage out of business, right?

Well, what if the “control” Google forced upon visitors was just a little less blatant? What if, for example, people using Apple iPhones were subjected to a “security check” (but a rather simple one, so no one would have to take off their shoes)? Or what if people trying to use Microsoft Office apps were told these had “security issues” and were forced to use Google Docs apps instead? I do not doubt that at least *some* people might nod off on such strategies of attack… indeed: some might even go so far as to call people who objected to such measures “conspiracy theorists”. I can quite easily imagine a vast plethora of scenarios under which the dot APP top level domain might be something short of a perfectly level playing field.

Granted: I do not doubt that there are some people who would label such cynical realism something else — perhaps a pessimistic point of view. Why not try to be a little more optimistic? Well, this past week one of my friends posted a very interesting status update that got me thinking along these lines — it read: “Create a vision that makes you wanna jump out of the bed in the morning”.

Let me tell you: After the sort of crap that I have been through, this is not an easy task. But I was nonetheless inspired. And so I have now set out to put on some fairy-tale rose-colored glasses and see the world with a view towards a more fair (and perhaps even a pleasant) outcome.

It basically goes like this: Pretend there are people in the world who defy the typical images (of culprits and victims) of capitalistic exploitation… who do *not* seek to profit from the starry-eyed naiveté of noobs, and who do *not* follow the line so often quoted (and attributed to P. T. Barnum) — that “there is a sucker born every minute” (who is ready, willing and able to fall for almost any even just somewhat cleverly designed sales pitch). As a more balanced reflection upon experience will show, this fantasy is rather unrealistic and far-fetched — but what if believing in something like this would make our lives happier, make us more light-hearted, more open, more agreeable to pleasant surprises, more willing to jump at the chance of an opportunity to profit from the riches at the end of a rainbow when it somehow happens to present itself for just a fleeting moment?

Come and take my hand, then, and join me down the path towards the answer to this unreasonable question: “What if the proprietors of these new proprietary top level domains were actually something more than merely hungry for profitable exploitation smoke and mirror gamers, what if they were actually in it for something more than selling opium to the masses, what if the masses were not such gullible suckers?” This seems like quite a formidable wall to scale — and before you give up, let me point out that I think there is actually an easier approach. If just *some* of the masses were less gullible, if there were just a few people who knew how to separate the wheat from the chaff, then perhaps that might some day lead to a situation in which people could learn to fish.

What I mean is: Let’s say there were some people who are able to identify whether a top level domain registry was being run in a fair and reliable manner. They could identify those top level domain registries as good places to register domains, and indeed: Some of the fair and reliably run top level domain registries might even be among the new proprietary top level domains (insofar as some of the proprietors might actually do good or at least sufficiently agreeable work).

Something quite similar to this actually happened this summer when Google apparently endorsed the “dot XYZ” top level domain registry by themselves registering (note that I myself do not necessarily consider the XYZ top level domain registry worthy of my own endorsement — but I think there are many people who are probably more influenced by Google than they might be influenced by me).

I will not discuss whether Google’s apparent endorsement of the XYZ top level domain has any merit — at least not here and now. My main point is that if there were people we could trust — or even better: if we were able to make such judgements ourselves — then we would indeed be in a situation in which we could separate the wheat from the chaff. My experience over many years in this area does not give me a lot of hope, but I want to at least remain open to the possibility of being pleasantly surprised.

Note that (I feel) it is presently far too early for anyone to be able to make any such judgements. The complexity of the issues involved presently outstrips the knowledge imparted by any college degree from any university on Earth — probably many times over. A large part of the complexity involves the simple fact that these proprietary top level domain registry organizations are venturing into completely uncharted territory. For comparison: There is still today almost no clarity with respect to how legal disputes regarding domains in the oldest registries — which are already several decades old — should be resolved.

If there are nearly no guideposts at all for gauging the usefulness of these new proprietary top level domains, the non-existent levels of literacy among the masses of gullible suckers waiting to be exploited is even more dismal … probably by several orders of magnitude. Another example (to give even just a small indication of how vast the extent of illiteracy still is even to this day, despite many years of precendent-setting happening in the traditional top level domain space): Ask anyone what the top level domain “CO” refers to and/or which organization is responsible for maintaining the registry, and not even one in a thousand people will be able to give anything close to a correct answer. Likewise: Despite many years of news coverage, only an infinitesimally small number of people will be able to say which top level domain registries are governed by EU laws (e.g. with respect to right to privacy laws and/or consumer rights). Both of these questions are extremely straightforward, yet the ability to answer them is far beyond the grasp of the mass of men (and women) who merely lead lives of quiet desperation.

No one is teaching them. No such schools exist. Most of the people on the globe hardly have running water — and the countries with the *most highly* educated people seem to be exclusively governed by interests opposed to educating the masses. The only hope I have for this situation to get any better is through the actions of some non-governmental “grass roots” organisation (or group or whatever)… or perhaps (in the most extreme scenario) through the self-education of some extremely motivated self-starters.

For years, this has been the vision that has made me jump out of bed in the morning — and I do agree: It is probably very important not to lose sight of this dream.

If a basic level of literacy were more widespread, I would probably be more optimistic for the near future. As it is, I feel the road ahead will be quite rocky. My ball-park estimate goes as follows: Many thousands if not even many millions of individuals and small-business owners will register regional and topical top level domain names (two subsets of what I refer to as “proprietary” top level domains). Most of these people registering domains will be naive and therefore will not understand most of the legal, business and related other repercussions imposed by these registries. In some cases, rather shady business practices will be permitted. In other cases, innocent consumers will be duped into believing something beyond what is actually being delivered. In each case, a very complex web of stakeholders will be by and large left in the dark about which standard operating procedures are being applied — or even whether any standard operating procedures even exist at all.

There will be many failures — and some of these might even be of so-called “epic” proportions. Companies will go bust, be acquired, merged, etc. — and there will be a great deal of churn and turnover. Large numbers of people, businesses, organizations and other institutions will be ruined, burnt or in some case perhaps just somewhat adversely affected.

Yet (to reiterate) amid all of this chaos, it may very well be that a few proprietary domains will actually succeed and also actually have a positive impact on the global community. I doubt this will happen by itself, but if over the coming decades some initial steps are taken which might increase the rate of literacy a little bit, then the prospects for the future would look much better. I for one am not letting up on my engagement in this space.

The most significant positive possibilities I see for these new proprietary top level domains is the chance for more localization — whether that be a matter of geographic localization (for which I feel the prospects are relatively good), or a matter of topical localization (about which I am much more skeptical — this is an area that requires much more sophistication, and I do not feel there is anyone [or any organisation] who is qualified as “up to the task” in this field).

To give you a glimpse of what I mean, let’s take this quote by Ray King (writing on

Domains using new TLDs are naturally shorter due to much higher name availability and furthermore they are shorter because the extension is not wasted.

For many individuals, small-businesses and mom-and-pop corner stores, this is a significant advantage. Consider how much easier it would be to visit than (and then also consider that it might be much more difficult to ascertain whether Ray’s establishment would meet the criteria required to register — or perhaps rays.deli or and/or many other possible variants?).

Another interesting question was raised by Cory Doctorow in a very well-written article all the way back in 2001:

Any hierarchy of ideas necessarily implies the importance of some axes over others.

In other words: would it make sense to create a directory of pizza restaurants in New York City at or maybe at (or maybe at , or some other variant)?

In my opinion, the answers to questions such as these will depend mostly on how well different registries run their business. In my book, it seems like somewhere around 99 percent would receive the grade “FAIL”.

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Proprietary Domain Names as Brands: Branding / Promotional Strategy (Case Study)

2015-02-20 in Uncategorized

Proprietary domain names (also know as “new gtld” [ngtld — from the common abbreviation for “top level domain = “tld”]) apparently need a sophisticated branding strategy in order to establish what Howard Lefkowitz refers to as “brands” in the online marketplace:

Simply having the name, upon which Lefkowitz has built the bulk of his legacy, is not enough to launch a brand. The relationship that brands build with their audience is what will launch the business into success.

Color me “not impressed” — but the video is at least a little entertaining. 😉

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Conversion Technology

2015-01-30 in Uncategorized

How do you convert men with a wimpy, limp dicks into a full hardon hungry-for-some-vagina animals? Mother nature has already been working on that technology for many millions of years, so I need not go into any details here.

Here I want to talk about the Internet, the World-Wide Web, and machine-readable information. But first let me give you a little piece of eye candy:

eye candy

Please go ahead and “mouse-over” that image to see the link to its source (it’s at this website: A machine cannot tell that this is a picture — or rather: two pictures — of three naked boys and three (pretty much) naked men… — but I presume you (whom I also presume to be human) can. The string “sunnyskyz” also means nothing to a machine — in contrast, for example, to the phrase “bright future”. The promise of the “computationally” meaningless (and “misspelled”) string may — in contrast — be very meaningful to the foolish and gullible human seeking some satisfaction this very moment.

During the 20th Century, a lot of marketing and advertising was about getting and converting the attention of foolish and gullible humans. In the 21st Century, we now also seek to convert another animal: the machine.

Today, many machines exist — and they are used by humans quite often to help make decisions. One very well-known machine goes by the name of “Google”. The Google machine comprises many things, including what is known as “an algorithm” but also the less well-known servers that suck up huge amounts of energy to keep the complete system running like a charm. Most people see Google as an empty box that wants to be filled with words, or brand names, or at least something… but behind that box is a whole bunch of technology, some of it being software, but also a significant amount being hardware.

Information scientists sometimes refer to such machines as if they were humans — for example: ascribing them the ability to read. The stuff such machines are considered to be able to read is called “machine-readable information”. This set of information is not forever fixed in time, but I can confidently say that it will probably remain limited to what is commonly referred to as “text” for the foreseeable future. The way most machines can tell the difference between the meaningless “sunnyskyz” and the meaningful “bright future” is by having humans describe the difference to them (for example: linguists like Noam Chomsky have described “rules” for what humans consider to be meaningful expressions, and these rules are then converted into “machine-readable code” — another type of text that machines can understand).

Different machines will apply different algorithms to “figure out” different answers to the same question. And increasingly, many of the most popular machines will even each individually give different answers to the same question posed by different users (aka humans), or even by the same user at different times or in different locations. Some of these machines even work together in groups — such as “Facebook” and “Instagram” (and a bunch of other related machines, including e.g. “”).

The crux of the human-computer-interface in the online space (i.e. the parts that are “connected to the internet”) is natural language (which has been “taught” to machines via hardware and software algorithms). Humans talk to machines — they “call them up” — by calling them by their names. They usually ask different machines different questions… — and the questions they tend to ask follows a similar semantic language. They might ask “Cars” about a car, they might ask “Hotels” about a hotel, and so on. At the moment, 9 out of 10 (or even more) humans ask only one machine — or perhaps only a couple machines — almost all of their questions … much in the same way as people in ancient times would ask an oracle, or maybe a religious leader, all of their most pressing questions of the moment.

Yet there are many signs on the horizon that this level of naiveté will not last very much longer. Competition among machines is increasing and will continue to increase, and machines will develop their own specialties — much in the same ways as smiths became know as “Smith”, and millers became “Miller” — and humans will increasingly go to the specialized machine that best suits their needs at any given time, in any given location, and according to the language humans have devised their machines in.

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