Wendy Seltzer has a great essay up today about the process by which ICANN is allocating new top-level domains (TLDs, like .com, .net, .org, and so forth). Wendy is the copyfighting civil liberties cyberlawyer who founded Chilling Effects
and previously worked with me at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She's served on the ICANN board for years -- this is the US-chartered corporation that oversees the domain name system, the only really centrally governed piece of the entire Internet.
ICANN has been thrashing for years over the creation of more TLDs, like ".sex" -- the idea is to recapture the edenic glory days when all .COMs were companies, all
.ORGs .EDUs were educational institutions and all .WS sites were in Western Samoa. A .sex TLD would be overseen so that only porn sites got .sex domains, and so that porn sites would be forced out of the .com/net/org spaces. This merely requires that some perfectly infallible institution be set up to rake in gigantic profits from the sex industry while accurately dividing all material on the web into "porn" and "not-porn." Simple.
Another faction has bigger ideas: they want to blow the lid off of DNS, to allow for the creation of an infinite number of TLDs. Wendy is in this faction and in "Aging the Internet Prematurely," she sets out a stirring call-to-arms for the TLD multiverse.
To trust the market, ICANN must be willing to let new TLDs fail. Instead of insisting that every new business have a 100-year plan, we should prepare the businesses and their stakeholders for contingency. Ensuring the "stable and secure operation of the Internet's unique identifier systems" should mean developing predictable responses to failure, not demanding impracticable guarantees of perpetual success. Escrow, clear consumer information, streamlined processes, and flexible responses to the expected unanticipated, can all protect the end-users better than the dubious foresight of ICANN's central regulators. These same regulators, bear in mind, didn't foresee that a five-day add-grace period would swell the ranks of domains with "tasters" gaming the loophole with ad-based parking pages.
The Cobham catalog, exposed by The Intercept, features countless pages of surveillance gadgets sold to U.S. police to spy on American citizens: tiny black boxes with a big interest in you. In the creepily bland feature lists and nerdy product names is a whisper of a dark future; perhaps darker than anyone can imagine.
This image depicts the most commonly-found stylesheet colors on the web’s top sites—Paul Hebert did an amazing amount of analysis and this is just one of the intriguing visualizations he came up with. Most of these are obvious staples, especially HTML red and blue, though it’s interesting how far the blue “cluster” is from the […]
With the cacophony of an election year ablaze with unparalleled drama being fought on the front lines of Twitter, we find ourselves slowing down and staring at it like a bad accident. The need for escapist relief is perhaps more dire than usual right now. This fall, if it’s drama you crave, but the Hillary […]
Geek Fuel is a subscription delivery service that caters to those of us that love comics, gaming, and general geek culture. Every month, Geek Fuel will assemble a box of goodies with a value of $50 or over. The specific items are a mystery, but you’ll always get an exclusive t-shirt not found anywhere else, a full […]
If you like to DIY and you like helicopters, you’re going to really love the Flexbot Hexacopter Kit. This copter blows traditional models out of the water: it includes everything you need to actually build your own hexacopter, and then pilot it like a pro, too.The construction is complicated enough to give you a challenge, […]
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