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The New Hierarchy, April 19, 1998 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox

 

the soapbox @ benturner.com
archived soapbox: April 19, 1998
"The New Hierarchy" [permalink]
    keywords: internet, TLD, design
    soapbox #: 132
    written: April 19, 1998
    words: 1797

"The New Hierarchy", an Essay

How long have they been working on revising the top-level hierarchy for domain names on the Internet, anyway?

Isn't the President consulting on which top-level groupings to add? Why the slowdown? Why the deliberation? Why no results?

Using the World Wide Web has gotten to be ridiculous very quickly since it first hit it big. Not only were there the big fiascos when wiseguys registered corporate domain names while Internic still charged nothing for them, which meant companies had to bribe people in order to get their hbo.com and diarrhea.com Web addresses, but there were other complications. So many companies suffer from an inability to use the varied vocabulary of the English language, which means there are two dozen companies named Infinity Corporation or whatever. And all these companies are vying for the same domain name. So there can be an infinity.com, infinity.org, infin.com, and so on and so forth.

whitehouse.com does not take you to the U.S.A.'s White House site. But there's an image of a sexy girl draped all over an American flag. And how many times have you tried to read The Onion, and end up at that bland BBS site, onion.com? And aren't you pissed off that your name is Ben Turner and I already own your domain name?

The Web is straying from what made it so easy to understand: its system of organization is outdated and needs to be corrected soon. The answer? Add new top-level domains.

So below I've listed some recommended TLDs and their uses for inclusion on the World Wide Web -- if the name isn't good, I hope you at least think the idea deserves more consideration.


  NSA.gov.us
First of all, more and more people from countries outside the US are logging in and using the Web. However, foreign sites have TLDs usually corresponding to which country they're from, like .ca for Canada and .au for Australia. In keeping with the spirit of the Web, and avoiding that Webbish attitude (of which I am guilty myself) of assuming everyone online is American, I think all sites based in the US should have a .us TLD to denote the site's location. Other countries should follow this as well, using a hierarchical level both for the categorization of the site (corporation, organization, etc.) followed by the two character country code. Differentiating between where sites are hosted will mean that an international corporation like Sony can have a sony.com.us main site and a sony.com.de mirror site in Denmark.

Perhaps there should be a world code like .wo to denote certain things which are not based in one country, but instead don't have a specific home, like products. Who's to say the Philips ISIS cellphone is only an American product? (okay, it only has American wireless carriers, but you get the point) Sites in the .WO code should only be allowed through close inspection, as you know all the bigwigs like Microsoft and CNN will want to have a .WO site.

  SpumCo.com.us
.COM is, of course, an old TLD, but its meaning needs to be reemphasized, as right now, .COM only stands as a general category for anything which doesn't fit into .EDU, .MIL, .ORG, and .GOV. Hell, benturner.com is an excellent example. I certainly couldn't register for anything else, .ORG being the closest, so I chose .COM. This is hardly a rarity. Anyway, .COM needs to be for companies ONLY. Define it how you will, I don't care. Bring in the analysts and other equally interesting people to do that work. But .COM is far too unwieldy and could be broken up into many smaller parts.

  .mil.jp, .gov.se, .org.ru
Keep these TLDs the same. I think they work fine how they are. As for .ORG, take out the personal collaborative pages.

  RedLightsDistrict.xxx.us
The Web's needed this one for a very long time. Instead of using programs like Net Nanny to filter out porn sites, the commercial porn sites could voluntarily put themselves under the .xxx TLD so that they would be much easier to filter. Porn sites would most likely be quite open to this, since they're more interested in staying open at all than losing underage viewers. Surely, not everyone will go over to this .xxx TLD, particularly individuals who want to put porn up on the 'Net, but commercial porn sites should be expected to follow this standard, and if possible, should not be okay'd to sign up for any other TLD.

  BenTurner.nom.us
I haven't figured this one out yet. How do you take the hundreds of Victor Ben Turners out there and give them all unique, yet simple domains? It's not possible, without using some sort of AOL-like number system (BenTurner50103). I think personal sites, under the .NOM or nomenclature TLD, should work under the same premise there is now. Either you have your own directory on an ISP (digiweb.com/~infinity/), or you have to take what's left in the .NOM TLD. If "BenTurner.nom.us" is taken, maybe "BenTurner.nom.uk" or "BTurner.nom.us" can be used. But the number of similar names will definitely screw with the mechanics of this system. Who decides who gets names first? First come, first serve? That's how it is right now. I get mail from lots of Ben Turners who thought they'd look for personal sites named after the author, and I feel bad about having this domain name when the others can't. I don't really deserve it more than they do, except that I registered the name first, and I, to my knowledge, have the most established and well-done web site out of the Ben Turners, but still. I'd feel better having a domain name unique to myself. Collaborative sites like The Fray might also go under this TLD, since they are non-profit and personal, but .ORG would work well too.

  ApocalypseNow.eve.us
I think there should be a TLD for purely promotional, ephemeral sites that are relevant only for specific periods of time. Movies and concerts fit in perfectly. Every movie that comes out now has a web site, like The Fan or Starship Troopers. But once the movies get out of the theatres, the sites are pretty much useless. Putting them under .EVE, for event, will help distinguish them from other sites. Sports events like Wimbledon won't go under this category, since they are run yearly.

  FrenchOpen.spo.fr
Hell yes. Sports teams, sports news, sports events...all of that should go under a sports, or .SPO TLD. Sports is a massive part of our society, and it will only help organize the Web further.

  Forsaken.gam.wo
Did you know the final version of Forsaken is out? It's a 3dfx souped-up Descent and it kicks major ass. I've never seen rooms that look so realistic -- it makes Quake 2 look bad. The dynamic lighting is tastefully done and is subtle. The projectiles and missiles look amazing. Extremely well done. But anyway, a lot of computer games and video games have their own sites, or at least, they should, if they're not hosted at the distributing company's site. The gaming industry is gigantic, especially on the Web, and it really does need its own TLD.

  Mudding.hob.wo
I didn't know what to throw general sites in as. Hobby (.HOB)? Sites with information on peoples' hobbies or interests in gothic culture, pottery, or whatever need some general category to be placed in, since they obviously won't fit in elsewhere. Ideas?

  UselessISP.net.us
What the Hell is .NET for, anyway? How come some corporations have .NET domains? Shouldn't .NET only be for Internet Service Providers and major routers or something? Something strictly Internet-related?


I suppose I could go on and on categorizing different areas of the Web into separate TLDs, but I'll end it here. You could go on to classify reference sites like Webster's and Bartlett's as .REF, music-related bands and lyrics/tabs/etc. sites as .MUS, and so on.

The point is that we lose nothing by adding more TLDs to categorize the Web. Sure, you'll have to familiarize yourself with all the new TLDs, but that won't take long. Knowing the difference between .EDU, .MIL, .COM, et cetera didn't take long, did it? But we can benefit from categorizing in the same way that GeoCities does -- you know what sort of neighborhood you're in, based on the TLD. GeoCities is set up so that different neighborhoods like Athens and CapitolHill correspond with education and politics, respectively. I think that was a great idea. The metaphors shouldn't carry on to the Web, but the idea behind a stronger sense of taxonomy would help everyone out. It would be easier to filter certain sites, especially the .XXX TLD, and instead of searching ALL pages on the Web, you could instruct Alta Vista or whatever to only search in a TLD that pertains to what you're looking for. The possibilities are endless.

Another thing: in order for all of this to work effectively, Internic and other countries' domain name controllers need to take some responsibility. They need to make sure that every site is where it should be and doesn't stray into other categories. The important thing is that a site must have something to do with the TLD it is under. Companies and people won't do this on their own -- they'll want to get domain names for several categories that are related, in order to control more of what's happening. This can't be allowed.

The Web is awesome. It's immediately at my use, whenever I need it, and I can do everything from looking for music videos banned in the States (hey, it's illegal, but it's still pretty cool that you can go online, search for a video, and pull down a RealVideo version of it to see what the rest of the modern world is tapping into) to looking up answers to trivial questions to getting the latest verified news in a sports tournament or whatever. It's about time we started to streamline this thing to make it even easier to use, and more organized to use.

Now, all this took me no more than a few hours to write. Why has it taken a couple years or so for that big panel in the sky to figure out what to add? Jesus, guys, help us out. We're dying here. Give us some order to a Web that's far outgrown its limits.


 
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