Scylla-and-Charybdis.JPG New York, June 24, 2010 - Within the next few years the Internet is going to change in a fundamental way - it is going to become more intuitive.

This will happen as the ICANN, the entity that issues new Top Level Domains such as .com, .org, and .gov finalizes the application process for new TLDs. There will initially be hundreds and then thousands of New  TLDs, with names such as .bank, .sport, and .news.

So the future holds Chase and Citibank moving from Chase.com and citibank.com to Chase.bank and city.bank. ESPN will move to ESPN.sports and the Wall Street Journal will find advantage in moving to WSJ.news.

With this transition people will come to see the Internet as far more intuitive than today and will begin entering their domain name requests directly. So for example, if you’re looking for a bank you might enter index.bank or directory.bank. Or if you’re looking for news you might try categories.news. And information about baseball might be best found from baseball.sports. It’s going to be a different Internet, one where our dependence of search engines will be diminished.

In addition to the forementioned .sport, .news, and .bank, there will be city TLDs such as .paris, .berlin, .tokyo and our favorite .nyc.

Let’s imagine the .nyc Top Level Domain name is fully functional in 5 years. And people have begun to recognize the benefit of directly entering domain names rather than always relying on Google. And people learn that it’s faster and more direct to enter mayor.nyc, citycouncil.nyc, firedepartment.nyc, and police.nyc.

The .nyc TLD’s name server (a specialized computer) will connect each of these queries to the appropriate website and create an entry in a Query Log. This Query Log will contain valuable information from a marketing, governance, and civic life perspective.

Let me give an example. Imagine in 1985 we had the intuitive Internet as I’ve described above, i.e., baseball.sports, police.nyc… And imagine the residents of Greenpoint, Brooklyn started entering inquiries into their search boxes such as:

  • Holeintree.nyc
  • Spottedbeetles.nyc
  • Dyingtreesingreenpoint.nyc

What happens to these queries? If they’re for an existing website, people will be directly connected to the site. (Let’s skip for the moment the privacy issues associated with that database of successful connections - the basis for the Sylla & Charybdis graphic.)

But imagine it’s a time like 1985 when the Asian Longhorn Beetle had just arrived on our shores. And residents of Greenpoint are entering intuitive inquiries like the above seeking information about the strange developments going on with their trees. And let’s assume that none of these intuitive inquiries had existing websites. What happens to these erroneous queries?

We advocate that this information go to an Error Query Log Database, and be made available to all for inspection. This will enable some clever researcher to begin exploring these entries and initiate a proper response. In 1985 that would have been to inform the Parks Department that something odd was going on with the trees in Greenpoint, and to dispatch an inspector to investigate. In reality, it took 10 years before that happened and America now faces the prospect of 1,200,000,000 trees being lost to the Asian Longhorn Beetle. ­

So what will the Error Query Log show in the future?

We don’t have that crystal ball, but it could be the central location for sensing change in our city, a twitteresque database controlled by the city. As such, we recommended in testimony before the city council Technology Committee on June 19, 2010 considering Intro. 29, OpenData, that the Error Query Log Database be made available to researchers and programmers on a minute by minute or minimally, hourly basis.

Read our testimony and help imagine the development of this twitteresque feature. (Commons image courtesy of Wikimedia.)

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page.

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