We've now had a week to digest the applications for new TLDs that were announced by ICANN last week.
Esther Dyson, the founding chairman of ICANN, says there's no reason to establish new TLDs. I go further, I say there are important reasons not to.
First, certain TLDs are relatively harmless. Google buying .google is an example. Not so sure about Amazon buying .amazon, because it also is the name of a rainforest in South America, and .apple could be a problem for growers and lovers of the fruit. But let's put those aside. If it's a company's trademark, fine -- let them buy the corresponding TLD. No harm done.
But what happens if someone buys your trademark? Don't worry ICANN says, we have that covered, with a process that allows trademark holders to challenge squatter registrations.
But what if the name was created by an open source community, without the financial resources to mount a challenge? I have some standing there, because I played a role in establishing blogs. How does Google get the right to capture all the goodwill generated in the word blog? They are not the exclusive owner of it, as they are with the name Google. However they claim the right to become that owner, by paying $185K to ICANN. Nowhere in their proposal is an offer to pay money to the people who created the idea that they would take over. And what if the creators aren't willing to sell it to them?
Now you see the problem. And it extends to words and concepts that weren't created by anyone living today. Sex, love, laughter, babies, books, songs, cars, poetry, etc. These things shouldn't be TLDs, they're too important, too basic to life. Not the kinds of things any company, for crying out loud, should be able to claim to own.
Further, this is clearly going to cause more problems like the terrible gridlock that's forming over software patents. Companies fighting over our future, with the rest of us left as bystanders, pawns. We could see the patent mess coming years before it did, but weren't able to head it off. This time we can and must.
This may have been an interesting experiment in the abstract, worth doing so we could find out what the problems are. We owe our thanks to the potential registrants for showing us so clearly. Now the answer should be an emphatic No. The TLDs we have are fine. There is no shortage of names that this is needed to address. Let's work on solving problems, not creating new ones.