P2P Foundation's blog

Researching, documenting and promoting peer to peer practices



    More in Diigo »


    Free Software, Free Society



Featured Book

“Stop, Thief!” – Peter Linebaugh's New Collection of Essays

Open Calls

Mailing List



  • Recent Comments:

    • Elias Crim: Brilliant, timely and much needed. I do hope this letter will draw a good deal of attention!

    • Keith: Re-posted and shared https://medium.com/p/ca78e03a9 664

    • John Medaille: This is no more than a call to the Church to return to the role it had before the State displaced the Church in the regulation of...

    • Eimhin: “…projecting on to the English riots of 2011 a political motivation that simply wasn’t there.” I want to comment on this...

    • Ellie Kesselman: I retract every bad thought I’ve had about the P2P Foundation, most recently about some of the more Blue Sky aspects of...

Managing City Domain Names as Neighborhood Commons

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
28th April 2011

There are an estimated 248 to 305 distinct neighborhoods in New York City. Imagine if neighborhoods could form their own governance systems for acting as stewards of “harlem.nyc” or “westvillage.nyc.” The city could stipulate that any neighborhood steward of a dotNeighborhood domain name would have to provide, at a minimum, a website with a neighborhood map, a listing of schools and government offices with links, a local business directory, a history of the neighborhood, hospitals, 24-hour pharmacies and other such information. Connecting.NYC website believes that “the .nyc TLD brings the potential for a ‘civic media’ that will allow residents to identify problems and opportunities while providing the tools to create stronger neighborhoods and a more livable city.”

Excerpted from a detailed report by David Bollier:

“There is a little-known struggle going on right now over how a new series of “top level domains” on the Internet shall be used by cities of the world. Top level domains, or TLDs, are the suffixes at the end of Web addresses, such as .com, .org and .net. The international body that oversees TLDs is expected to announce a new series of TLDs in 2012 that would give cities their own TLDs. So, for example, New York City would have a .nyc top level domain and Paris would have .paris. The new TLDs could make it easier for people in the same metropolitan areas to find each other and interconnect on the Internet and in physical spaces.

While the TLDs may be “just code” – a set of Internet protocols authorized by ICANN, the Internet Corporation for the Assigning of Names and Numbers – they will function much as parks, roadways and public squares in cities, that is, as spaces for getting around, meeting people, communicating things, and enjoying oneself. The significant question is, Who shall have the authority to manage the city-based TLDs, and under what terms? Very few people understand that the anticipated city-TLDs represent a world-changing urban infrastructure that could well be squandered through short-sighted privatization.

At this point, we don’t know exactly when ICANN will authorize the use of city-TLDs. But we do know that city governments are showing little inclination to treat the TLDs as a critical piece of common infrastructure that should be managed for the greatest public good. It seems likely, at this point, that city governments will blindly delegate this authority to domain-registry companies, who will proceed to make a fortune selling prime domain names such as www.restaurants.nyc and www.queens.nyc.

This would be a colossal tragedy. The ways that TLDs are structured and managed could profoundly shape the social, economic and civic life of cities around the world. Amazingly, most city governments and architecture and urban design schools are oblivious to the potential opportunities and impact of a well-managed TLD system.

I was alerted to these issues last weekend when I met Thomas Lowenhaupt, director of Connecting.NYC Inc. at a conference, Beyond Books, in Cambridge. Connecting.NYC Inc. is a project dedicated to “Imagining New York’s Home on the Internet.” Lowenhaupt and his band of partners are trying to persuade ICANN and New York City’s government to establish a commons-based governance regime for the .nyc TLD, and to treat its as an invaluable asset that should belong to the people, and not screwed up through government ignorance or privatization.

Lowenhaupt is urging that the city’s TLD be structured to enhance people’s ability to locate businesses and civic resources. They should be managed by neighborhoods as stewards of an invaluable public resource – the ability to communicate, organize and govern ourselves at the local level.”

More info via Lowenhaupt’s project wiki here.


Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>