As soon as 2012, the way we navigate the Web could be an entirely different beast. Top-level domains like .com and .net — which, according to the Washington Post, comprise about “half of the world’s 202 million Internet addresses” — could soon be a thing of the past.
In 2008, the judicious board that makes up the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved of an expansion to allow for custom domain suffixes, including obvious destinations like .eco, .love. and .sport, among others. The desirability (i.e. money!) that comes with the ownership and regulation of more prominent suffixes — such as .xxx — almost goes without saying.
But there is a catch. In order to even be in the running for one of these online territories, the entry price sits at a hefty $185,000, supposedly to ensure that only organizations with properly equipped infrastructures will snatch up the domains. (This is on top of a $25,000 ICANN fee.) This means that ordinary folks like you and me are more than a little out of the running.
The good news is that starting tomorrow, a few industry leaders will be flocking to San Francisco to figure things out at the .nxt Conference, which likens the coming free-for-all to the 1849 gold rush. The gathering will likely lay a few ground rules for the coming shift, supposedly tackling regulations, logistical considerations and, I’m guessing, who will get the exclusive rights to .bieber.
Divvying up the domains will be more than a little messy at first, but it’ll be interesting to see how established online companies (Amazon, for example) will be affected by what’s going to be a noticeable reorganization in the way we navigate the Web.
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