dotNYC-CB-3-Presentation-1-20-11-Tom-Lowenhaupt.jpgEast Elmhurst, New York, January 21, 2011 - Connecting.nyc Inc.’s director Tom Lowenhaupt last night provided a progress report to Queens Community Board 3 on its Internet Empowerment Resolution. He touched on highlights from the ten years since the Board adopted the Resolution on April 19, 2001: the early progress, the 9/11 down years, the formation of the not-for-profit he leads, ICANN’s adoption of a New TLD Policy that included cities, and city government’s partial acceptance of the board’s recommendation for .nyc’s operation as a public interest resource.

Mr. Lowenhaupt explained that his organization’s focus today is on gaining the city administration’s full support for treating the .nyc TLD as the city’s digital infrastructure, and for its development in the public interest. To highlight the benefits from this approach, his organization recently entered into a collaboration with Wikimedia-NY and the Internet Society-NY on a NYCwiki.org website that will highlight the possibilities by developing the neighborhoods name-set. “By demonstrating the benefits of this one name-set we expect the full utility of our approach will become apparent” he stated. 

The NYCwiki.org site’s goal is the creation of a neighborhood information resource through crowdsourcing, wherein residents contribute their memories and hopes for their neighborhoods to a Wikipedia-like site. Later, when the .nyc TLD becomes active, this information will be moved to its permanent website: Corona.nyc, EastElmhurst.nyc, and JacksonHeights.nyc. Calling it a “once in a lifetime opportunity,” he concluded the update stating that “together with communication, outreach, decision-making, and organization layers, these sites offer the promise of providing good local communications to our neighborhoods for the first time ever.” 

After the update Mr. Lowenhaupt introduced Richard Knipel, President of Wikimedia-NY, the local affiliate of the Wikimedia Foundation, the people that bring us Wikipedia. Richard invited experienced wiki editors to begin updating their local neighborhood sites now - see Corona, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights - and invited those desiring training to sign up for free NYCwiki.org page editing sessions to be held at the Langston Hughes Library beginning in February. To sign up for training sessions, email info@connectingnyc.org.

Pictured are Tom Lowenhaupt (standing left) and Richard Knipel, with Board Chair Grace Lawrence seated. (Photo by Eugene Atkins.)

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

JShift-Day-composit-b.jpgackson Hts., New York, January 17, 2011 - Recall February 2009 and the huge awareness campaign surrounding the transition from traditional analog TV to the new digital TV. Shift Day will celebrate the switch from the first generation .com Internet to the more local, organized, intuitive city-friendly .nyc Internet. 

In preparation for that transition process, New Yorkers will need to be informed about the utility of .nyc and the advantages that will arise from our working together to develop and protect our good name. 

With a thoughtfully introduced .nyc TLD, Shift Day will generate awareness, civic pride, and a willingness to cooperate for the common good. Help us plan it from our Shift Day wiki page. And while there, read the sidebar story from an 1889 Harper’s Weekly on squatting during the Oklahoma Gold Rush, pictured above.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

news-sports-weather-nyc-c.jpgJackson Hts., New York, January 1, 2011 - This first post of 2011 proposes a process for distributing key .nyc names such as news.nyc, weather.nyc, and sports.nyc. But for insight into the experience behind the suggested process, let me tell a story about how a neighborhood school got built.

In June 1992 I was part of a civic campaign advocating that a new school be built in our neighborhood. There was a clear path to success: our schools were massively overcrowded, a local teacher cohort had developed an innovative curriculum for a new school, and best of all, the city had created a fund for new innovative schools.

But the neighborhood was completely built, without a single vacant parcel of land. And when the teacher cohort began looking outside the neighborhood for a school venue, parents became frantic. Desperate, local parents focused on a seemingly underutilized department store in the center of the neighborhood’s commercial strip. But soon after advancing the venue we learned that the owner had refused an offer from the Board of Education.

To advance our cause, a group of parents met with the building owner to inform him of the many benefits the school would provide for both he and the neighborhood and to ask his support. We detailed the advantages of improved education, how it would increase the value of his nearby properties, and even how we’d advocate having the school named in his honor. But after listening politely Carlo became agitated, and after a deep breadth told us how the Board of Education had the temerity to offer him a measly $6 a square foot for his prime space. He was obviously insulted by the offer and stated that he would “not take a nickel less than $9.”

Thereafter we rallied the parents, pressured our elected representatives, and generally raised cane demanding that the city up its offer, condemn the property, do whatever it took to acquire the site. With the neighborhood in the dark as to the occasionally rumored “privileged negotiation,” a poisoned situation arose that had the neighborhood, in effect, working on behalf of the landlord, to the detriment of our school budget.

After a year an a half of rabble rousing the deal was sealed - for $21 a square foot! And two years later the Renaissance School opened to spectacular results. Today we have a wonderful school and a very happy landlord.

There are lessons from this experience that can be applied to the allocation of Primary Intuitive Names such as news.nyc, weather.nyc, and sports.nyc. Before detailing them, let me present a few axioms about them: 

  • Primary Intuitive Names have no obvious owner. Everyone would like to own them, but there are no actionable links for anyone. Perhaps they might be considered part of a common pool.
  • Primary Intuitive Names  are vital to the success of the .nyc TLD. They are the TLDs book covers, domain names people will visit first for a sample or preview. (Standard Portal Names and Navigation Names are also vital resources, but subjects for later posts.)
  • Primary Intuitive Names must be operational and provide a slick and effective information backbone from day one (Shift Day). If those entering a domain name such as news.nyc receive an advert or stale news, they will develop a negative view of the entire .nyc TLD.

Given these, how are we to allocate Primary Intuitive Names?

We can’t risk a simplistic high bid auction that might enable a speculator to acquire the name for resale a few years hence. Or put it into the hands of someone seeking to protect a competitive domain. And given the prospect that, thoughtfully developed, several Primary Intuitive Names can fund the entire .nyc TLD’s start-up budget and significant public education and access efforts, we must make the most of them. 

So here’s a New Year’s proposal based on that Renaissance School experience. Let’s rouse the public, pressure our elected representatives, and raise cane to demand that we1  create a competitive field that maximizes advantage from these public resources through this four step project: 

  1. Create an open and transparent process for guiding the identification and distribution of the Primary Intuitive Names.
  2. Begin an awareness campaign providing all those interested in developing these names with the opportunity to get their eggs in a row, initially via communication through relevant trade press. Consider this post an initial step.
  3. Develop minimum standards about content requirements within each Primary Intuitive Name with crowdsourced input used to reward excellence of concept.
  4. Advocate for a Shift Day that begins only when the Primary Intuitive Names are fully functional. 

How much “prosperity” might be raised from using our Renaissance experience to up the value of the Primary names? More than enough to finance the .nyc TLD’s planning and start-up, and to advance local control of this public interest resource. But its real potency lies in its ability to empower us all, providing for the all important Happy and Healthy referred to at top. But I’ve gone on too long here and will address these soon in a recommendation on ways we might use the initial and continuing .nyc TLD revenue streams. 

Learn more about the Primary Intuitive Names and our Domain Name Allocation Plan which deals with all .nyc names. (Commons photo courtesy of Stock Photo.)

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

  1. By “we” I refer to the residents and organizations of New York City.^

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