Masters of Their (Top-Level) Domains

in Rants

ICANN has, as you may have already read, has approved a number of top-level domains (TLDs) for Internet use, the most notable being “.xxx” for adult sites. The other, less interesting, TLDs are: .asia, .cat (for Catalan, not felines), .jobs, .mail, .mobi (mobile services), .post, .tel, and .travel. None of these, of course, has been covered with the same depth in the mainstream media.

Quite simply, they won’t work. None of them. Yes, lots of sites will register .xxx, and everyone will probably have a .mobi domain within 2 years. But they won’t be as successful as the well-known .com, .net, and .org. They aren’t as ingrained into people’s minds as the “big three” are. Look at the last group of TLDs to be approved. How many .biz domains have you seen that aren’t from spammers? What about .info? Few people recognize www.thecorporateimage.biz (the only legit .biz site I know of) as a valid URL. How many will notice www.delta.travel (for example)?

The Blocking Angle

This is the key point to this discussion. I, personally, have no problem with blocking software, as long as it can be turned off. But I can’t believe that the entire .xxx TLD will not be blocked–within hours of its official opening–by most corporate filters, small-town ISPs (especially in the South), and universities.
This is perfectly acceptable (except for the universities, maybe). But how will it be blocked? If it’s a filter that redirects “xxx” to a 404 page, then that’s a problem. What happens when someone wants to go to the home page for a certain movie starring Ice Cube? What if a science major at [insert prestigious university here] wants to look up a paper at Cornell’s preprint archive (old URL: xxx.lanl.gov, now at arxiv.org, but some PDF files have links to the old site, which would be blocked)?

Different Standards

The worst problem with .xxx is simple: nobody can agree on what to put there. Whose standards of “indecent” do we use? The (rather conservative) US definition? Or the (even more conservative) Islamic standard? Or if we use the more liberal European idea of decency, then millions of Christian conservatives in America will be offended, one of whom is the current president. This is not to even consider the fact that standards of decency can (and do) vary from town to town.

Think of the Children!

The rallying cry of Congress. Anything can get passed in the US by saying “it’s for the children”. That’s how we got the V-chip, video game ratings, and FCC fines for the Super Bowl. Shouldn’t parents be more involved in the lives of their children, and maybe, just maybe, talk to them about these things, rather than making the government babysit the entire nation?

Guidelines are okay. Movie ratings (for example) would be useful if they were applied consistantly. How about Web site ratings? PICS and RDF have been around for years, so why aren’t we using one of them, instead of segregating a large fraction of the Internet?

The Other Eight

Judging from the media coverage, you would think that .xxx was the only TLD to even be considered by ICANN. It’s not. The full list is at the top of this post, and even more information is at the ICANN site. Each of the TLDs has their own problems, but all share the same basic fact: we don’t need them!

A case can be made for both .asia and .cat, and of the proposals, these sound the most sensible. Asia has about half the world’s population, so it’s only fair that the continent gets its own TLD. Catalonia is a bit of a mystery, but it can’t have a country code, since it’s not a country. And since Tuvalu, Tonga, the Christmas Islands, and so many other Pacific island nations have sold their ccTLDs for millions of dollars, why not give a full-fledged TLD to Catalonia? For that matter, what about the Basques, Kurds, Tibet, American Indian nations, and so on? None of these are independent countries, but if speakers of Catalan can have a domain, why not speakers of Esperanto? Where does it stop?

.jobs is an enigma. I can understand the appeal of this TLD. Disregarding the “Steve.jobs” jokes, I can imagine sites like monster.com wanting a .jobs domain. And maybe every corporation will get one for the HR department. “Submit your resume at www.microsoft.jobs” might be on the horizon. And the misc.jobs.* newsgroups would have a great URL.

.mail and .post are not, as you might think, related. .mail is for email-type services, and .post is intended for postal service usage. Neither seems particularly necessary. But then, I don’t work for ICANN.

Next up, .mobi is intended for “mobile services”. I don’t think cell phones need a whole TLD, but, as usual, I can see the other side of the argument. Like I said, they didn’t ask me.

.tel has two different proposals, one for telephone numbers and one for telephone services. The “numbers” one would give us URLs like 2.1.2.1.5.5.5.0.0.8.1.tel for the US number 1-800-555-1212. The “services” proposal would, I assume, be at least easier to read. Both are intended for what seems to be similar to VoIP. Instead of a phone or fax number, you would have a URL in the .tel domain, which could then be routed to your landline phone, cell phone, fax machine, or whatever. This idea is intriguing, but I think it would be better to wait for adoption of IPv6, when we have near-infinite IP addresses, since with IPv4 there aren’t even enough for each person in the world to have 1.

Last, we have .travel. This, like .jobs, sounds much the same as the proposal that gave us .aero, .biz, and .coop. I don’t travel enough to know if a TLD dedicated solely to that industry would be useful, but I suspect it’s not.

In Closing

So we have 9 new top-level domains coming soon, including one only for adult sites (as if they needed to be easier to find). I don’t personally see any of them catching on, but if they do, I’m sure that one of them (guess which one) will rarely been seen. Whatever happens, you can rest assured that potterpcs.xxx will not be owned by me.

Braves Notes

The Braves lost, and once again it was the umpire’s fault. Bad luck comes in threes, so maybe we’re over it. The Marlins and Nationals were in extra innings as I typed this, and the rest of the division is rained out.

  1. Florida 28-23
  2. Atlanta 29-25 (0.5 GB)
  3. Washington 28-26 (1.5 GB)
  4. New York 28-26 (1.5 GB)
  5. Philadelphia 27-27 (2.5 GB)

First Post!

in Rants

This is just an introduction to let you know who I am, where I stand, and what this is all about.

About the Author

I’m Michael Potter, the same guy that runs the main potterpcs.net site and business, but this is my personal area. What I say here in no way reflects the “business” side, which is everything with the blue banner and sidebar on the main site.

I am a 21-year-old computer technician (for lack of a more descriptive term) from Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, which is just north of Chattanooga. I’m a skeptical liberterian, and whereas most of my family are conservative (almost fundamentalist) Christians, I consider myself an agnostic.

Besides the technical work I do on this site, I am a coin collector and conlanger. The first is obvious, but the second will need to be explained. “Conlanger” means that I make languages. Spoken languages. That’s obviously a very odd thing to do, but it’s an activity where I feel that I can fully use my creative energy. The Idzon page is the home for all of that. The coins I will usually talk about here.

About the Blog

I hate that word. I really do. But that’s the most-used term, so that’s what I should use. I don’t plan on covering the news of the day or anything like that. This is just a place for my opinions and thoughts, and whatever else I feel like talking about.

The name (“WordLess Rants”) is a play on words. The word is “blog”, and, like I said, I hate that word. So it won’t be used here. Therefore, we are “word”-less. And this is a place for me to rant, so we have “rants”. Simple, really. The play on words is the rhyming of the first word of the title with the software I use, WordPress. That means I have twice the meaning, with no extra effort.

In Closing

That’s it for the First Post. “First Post” is an inside joke from Slashdot, by the way.

I hope to have something new at least twice a week, but it may be more, it may be less.

Final Thoughts

The Braves lost to Washington 5-4. The Marlins lost to Pittsburgh 5-4. We’re still tied at the top!

  1. Florida 27-22
  2. Atlanta 28-23 (0 GB)
  3. Washington 27-25 (1.5 GB)
  4. New York 26-26 (2.5 GB)
  5. Philadelphia 25-27 (3.5 GB)