What is in a Name for a Domain?

For those unfamiliar with the word, “domain name”, in a nutshell, it’s what you type in to get to a website, such as here with hudin.com. I only own the ‘hudin’ part and can control anything after that, so if I wanted to start michael.hudin.com someday, that would be my business. The ‘.com’ part (and it’s actually .com., try it, it works) is owned and controlled by ICANN. They pretty much control everything on the net and decide what new top-level domains (the ‘com’, ‘net’, ‘org’, ‘gov’, etc.) that will be allowed to be used. This is unfortunate as the group is based, funded, and pretty much controlled by the US. So, internet growth in world is currently dictated by the US as opposed to a world consortium as it should be.
The reason that I’m bringing all of this up is because some interesting things have been happening in the world of domains these days. These aren’t earth shattering events, but at the same time, a lot can happen in a country in regards to its name.
Take for instance former Czechoslovakia. When the internet came around, it got the .cs extension, which was then given up as they split in to the Czech Republic – .cz and Slovakia – .sk. The later being still mighty close to Slovenia of .si, so I’m sure email (as is postal mail) gets sent incorrectly all the time. I even mixed the two up when I started typing this and I know better!
So, .cs actually got re-purposed in to the ill-fated union of Serbia and Montenegro. They of course have since split and have become .rs and .me respectively. Ah, but they were also still using the .yu extension from their days as Yugoslavia. So, what’s a website owner to do? Simple, either keep .yu or just register .com and not bother with any of it. In theory, they are supposed to be transitioning from .yu, but when I was in Serbia, I still saw signs for bus lines and government offices that had the .yu extension.
This is all something of a mess, except in the case of Montenegro. They’ve gotten quite a windfall with the .me domain. If they want to (and most likely they will) they can open up registration to anyone and thusly, we’ll start to see wonderful sites such as www.do.me (I feel sorry for the person that thinks that is just ‘dome’), www.blow.me, and scores of others on the net. It’s not dissimilar to countries such as Tonga with .to, Tuvalu with .tv, and most importantly Western Samoa with .ws that gives us the domain for Number One Fan. These countries make a good deal of money through the licensing of their domain and to some degree, what I feel to be their identity. But money is money and these are all small places that can use it, so more power to them in the end.
But, the question of identity on the web is an important one as well as an expensive one. Here in the US, we think of the name before the extension to be the more important bit, because who uses the .us extension? No one, that’s who. But, for other countries, that is quite important, yet cost prohibitive. I looked in to how much it cost to get a .hr extension for Croatia and it’s not cheap. Most of the registrars that I found who could do it charged $100+ a year. Just a tad more expensive than Go Daddy, huh? But, this explains why there are so many .com and otherwise sites in Croatia. They can’t justify spending that much just to have .hr for their site.
Honestly, I think that the .hr or any domain that is specific to a country should be given out on a limited basis at next to nothing to the people who are residents there. Instead of us all congealing into a huge mass of .com, .net, or .org (the big three) domains, it would be a lot more interesting, diverse and useful if we all used our country codes. To a large degree, I wish that the big three had never been brought about in the first place. It would have made much more sense for me to be www.hudin.us and my cousins to then have www.hudin.si so that you knew who you were talking to. Or more useful for things like www.tourism.us versus www.tourism.ca. Of course, www.tourism.cd would never be possible for the Democratic Republic of Congo as they have seemingly lost federal control of their own country domain through some shifty deal.
Russia has weighed in heavily on what it thinks of the whole system of control and has basically given a big fat middle finger with ‘фуцк яоу’ written on it, to the US ICANN which makes sense. They are really pushing for their own system in order to be able to use Cyrillic. It makes sense and is in line with the fact that .su (For Soviet Union) was supposed to be dropped a long time ago, but they keep selling new registrations for it, not caring what ICANN says. Of course, .ru is supposed to be their main domain name now, even though in Cyrillic, that is, .py which is actually for Paraguay. Screwy, yes. But, ultimately most people would assume that they’re not really doing it for any kind of Russian pride, but more to control the whole system within Russia. For, those in control of these name servers are those in control of the web, which is why the US will most likely have to have ICANN pried from its cold dead fingers before they’ll give it up.
One last domain that I find truly ridiculous is the new .asia that has been recently approved. So, I guess the fact that white people can’t tell where people in Asia are from wasn’t bad enough and so we need to have a domain that lumps them all in to one group on the internet, just to make that easy as well? I don’t get it, nor why they keep refusing to start up a .xxx domain, but such is the state of domains in the world as it is controlled by a corporation in the United States.
What is in a Name for a Domain?