The new domains - and the delicate bouquet of compromise

Network World's Mark Gibbs swills the IAHC's new contribution to the Internet Domain Name System around his educated palate - and spits it out.

Here at the Gibbs Institute of Viniculture, Nomenclature and Verbal Prestidigitation, we have been doing a bit of wine tasting. Actually, we tend to do rather a lot of drinking while we taste, but tasting sounds so much more classy.

It was while we were sampling a number of fine old wines that we got to considering that vintage Internet system, the Domain Naming System (DNS).

The simplicity of DNS has served us well but is obviously lacking when it comes to representing the full scope of the organizations and individuals on the Internet. So the International Ad Hoc Committee (IAHC) has just released its proposal to rectify the situation.

As is common with all highly politicized organizations, the IAHC has created a camel from an elephant. And its proposals will probably be accepted.

The outcome of the IAHC's ruminations, verbal arm wrestling and lobbying by special interest groups is the Net should get seven new "generic Top Level Domains" (gTLD) and as many as 28 new registries to complement InterNIC.

The proposed new gTLDs are .firmfor businesses (why not .biz?); .store for,er, stores (again, why not .biz, and is .firm so different from .store?); .web for "entities emphasising activities related to the World-Wide Web" (now is that ridiculous or what?); .arts for "entities emphasising cultural and entertainment activities"(gee, we really need that fine distinction - why don't they specify a .crafts, as well?); .rec for "entities emphasising recreation/entertainment activities" (would Columbia/TriStar be .arts, .firm or .rec?); .info for "entities providing information services" (would Yahoo fall under .info or .web?); and .nom for "those wishing individual or personal nomenclature" (there's going to be an unholy scramble for Smith, Singh and Mohammed).

These new gTLDs are meant to augment the existing ones, but their ambiguous nature is bound to cause problems. The IAHC's camel, er, proposal, is one that the Gibbs Institute suspects very few people (most likely including IAHC members) will ultimately be satisfied with.

It is up to individuals and companies ("entities" in IAHC-speak) that want a domain to select which one they wish to be in, but the proposed scheme looks way too artificial - even for the Internet. Mark our words, chaos will ensue.

So over our glasses of Chateau Gibbs '96 (a trifle impertinent but obviously wanting to please), we came up with our proposal, which we think reflects more accurately the nature and needs of individuals and organizations on the 'Net.

1) .dweeb - This gTLD is for all those entities whose lives are totally technically oriented. If you wear a pocket protector, you belong in this domain.

2) .spam - If you are one of those naughty entities who insists on sending out huge volumes of unsolicited email, this domain is for you. There should also be some kind of international treaty that legally consigns all spammers to this gTLD once their activities are discovered. And just think how easy it will be to filter them out.

3) .lame - For those who just can't help themselves and don't want to, let them wear their predilection proudly. If you have apersonal home page complete with street address, telephone number and pictures of your kids, this one's for you.

4) .scam - This is obviously easily confused with .spam, but if the IAHC doesn't care about confusion, why on earth should we?

5) .porno - This is the truly great omission by the IAHC. The number of porno sites on the 'Net is astounding, and I suspect the revenue generated is far greater than most observers think. So it makes a lot of sense to get these sites well defined. And searching for them will be so much easier.

6) .compromise - For organizations such as the IAHC. So here at the Institute, we're going to open the Chateau Legless '89.

Here's to the IAHC: Nice try, chaps.

What gTLDs would you like to see? Compromises to our committee by email at nwcolumn@gibbs

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