Jackson-Heights-balcanized.pngJackson Hts., New York, January 1, 2013 - What impact might our new digital infrastructure have upon our city’s neighborhoods? For the past few years we’ve cataloged some of the benefits that might arise from thoughtfully allocated and locally controlled neighborhood websites on our dotNeighborhoods wiki pages.

But over the past few months, with the city having submitted an application and begun moving toward the activation of the .nyc TLD, we’ve not received the assurances we expected about city hall’s plans for neighborhood networks, i.e., give residents the opportunity to self govern their neighborhoods as they have historically. Indeed, unofficially, we’ve been told that they will not be following our recommendations and the neighborhood domain names will be sold off with a bottom line perspective, not civic betterment.

So let’s explore the impact that action might have on my favorite neighborhood, Jackson Heights. Today there are a dozen or so sites that currently serve our neighborhood’s needs, have served them and are reorganizing, or are preparing to enter the fracas of local media.

The Many Jackson Heights’
 JacksonHeightsLife.com  JHBG.org
 JHGreen.org  jhdogs.ning.com/
 Queens7.com  JacksonHeights.NYDailyNews.com
 NYTimes.com/JacksonHeights  JacksonHeights.Patch.com
 JacksonHeights.Neighborly.com  Google.com/JacksonHeights
 JacksonHeights.EveryBlock.com  JacksonHeights.NewYork.craigslist.com
 YP.com/JacksonHeights  iwantmorefood.com/the-jackson-heights-food-group/

And under the current “unofficial” plan we could add JacksonHeights.nyc to that list, along with sites such as WesternJacksonHeights.nyc, NorthJacksonHeights.nyc, The BetterJacksonHeights.nyc, TouristJacksonHeights.nyc, MyJacksonHeights.nyc, DiversityPlaza.nyc, HistoricJacksonHeights.nyc, etc.

How do residents locate and communicate with one another in such a digitally balkanized neighborhood? Where is the center of our neighborhood when there’s an emergency, an opportunity, or a joyous event we want to share? How do we network over dozens of sites?

It’s long been my view that a central point of contact was critical to the existence of an inclusive and livable neighborhood. Especially in an ethnically and culturally diverse place like Jackson Heights, its vital that we avoid cubbyholes that fester about problems that “they” are causing. We need a central local, a town hall, a public square, a forum, a bulletin board where information is posted and important ideas exchanged.

This is not to imply that all these current sites should not continue as the .nyc TLD comes to life. Indeed, there’s no way to prevent a plethora of sites. And perhaps most importantly, it’s vital that we have a multiplicity of sites to serve our needs. One solution might be a simple blogroll on an “official” JacksonHeights.nyc.

So let me start 2013 with a plea to our officials in city hall: We’re reaching out to the 38 other global cities that have applied for their TLDs to determine how they are using their historic neighborhood names. We suspect our research will steer the city toward empowering our historic neighborhoods, making them a key building block of our new digital civic infrastructure. City hall should wait for our research results before adopting an allocation policy for our dotNeighborhoods.

barcoded-NYC.0.JPGJackson Hts., New York, November 16, 2012 - On April 19, 2001 Queens Community Board 3, a local planning agency of the City of New York, passed an Internet Empowerment Resolution calling for the acquisition and development of the .nyc TLD as a public interest resource (it’s like .com, .org, .edu and .gov but just for New York City).

Last night, 11 years later, on the eve of that resolution’s fruition, and with 38 other global cities following the city’s lead - .paris, .london, .tokyo, .barcelona, etc., the board passed another resolution supportive of the original saying in essence: “Hey, we started this thing. Don’t forget us.”

The new resolution calls for City Hall to activate and fund a promised .nyc Community Advisory Board and assure that good domain names - those that are short, descriptive and memorable - are provided to the “city’s neighborhoods, community organizations, not-for-profit institutions, and local small businesses.” It also called for the city to coordinate the development of the.nyc TLD with the 38 other global cities, and it requested that a process be developed for recycling domain names that would assure their availability for future generations. The resolution:


A Resolution in Support of the .nyc Top Level Domain

- by Queens Community Board 3, the City of New York, November 15, 2012 -

Whereas, on April 19, 2001 Queens Community Board 3 passed an Internet Empowerment Resolution calling for the acquisition and development of the .nyc Top Level Domain (TLD) as a public interest resource, and

Whereas, the City of New York submitted an application to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for the .nyc TLD on June 12, 2012, and

Whereas, the City of New York plans to create a Community Advisory Board to “encourage meaningful input into the development of the .nyc strategy” and

Whereas, 38 other cities have followed New York City’s initiative and applied for their TLDs,

Queens Community Board 3 hereby endorses the following resolution:

We congratulate Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council for filing an application for the .nyc TLD.

To contribute to its success, Community Board 3 recommends:

  • that the .nyc TLD’s Community Advisory Board take a careful view of this most important resource, and that it be provided with adequate resources to assure its effective operation.
  • that Community Boards, civic organizations, not-for-profit entities, and local small businesses be represented on the Community Advisory Board.
  • that domain names that support civic life should be thoughtfully reserved for use by the city’s neighborhoods, community organizations, not-for-profit institutions, and local small businesses.
  • that civic not-for-profit organizations, and small businesses be provided with adequate notification of domain name selection periods, and the opportunity to select a good domain name.
  • that the city carefully coordinate the development of its Top Level Domain with the other cities that have applied for their TLDs, seeking opportunities for standardization and the sharing of good TLD governance practices.
  • that a plan be formulated to assure that the .nyc TLD is a sustainable resource: that domain names are recycled so they are available to New Yorkers today and tomorrow.

dotNYC-broken-logo.jpg Jackson Heights, New York, June 13, 2011 - At least one ICANN-accredited registrar, United Domains, is offering what it calls “Free nTLD pre-registration” with .nyc domain names included in the offer. So if you go to that offer page and indicate a desired .nyc domain name - news.nyc, sports.nyc, weather.nyc, etc. - you’ll be able to reserve that name within the United Domain’s database, and when .nyc names become available through a completed ICANN application process, the considerable resources of United will assist you in acquiring the entered name. Several thousand names have already been “reserved.” United estimates the availability of “some” top-level domains by October 2012.

While United Domains pre-registration service is free and non-binding, the North American Regional At Large Organization, part of the ICANN governance ecology, is concerned that “the offer of such a service could create artificial demand…” Today it posted a comment for review on its wiki expressing concerns with the process. We concur with those concerns and today added our two cents on that ICANN site as follows:

In the instance of New York City, I can imagine pre-registrations becoming a matter of civic disruption. For example, imagine small businesses predicating their business plans on the availability of .nyc domain names as implied in these pre-registration offers. I start gearing up to offer weather.nyc. And my sister-in-law hears of this new opportunity and “reserves” crochet.nyc. And Andy at Pizza Boy hears us jabbering and says he has a new chain of local pizza shops planned and this would fit in perfectly with his city-wide delivery plan. And on and on into the thousands.

Next the city starts to take a serious look at the social, economic, cultural, and civic impact of .nyc and realizes that such a review will take some time. With cities acting in glacial time rather than Internet time, this could lead to many thousands of disappointed “pre-registrants.”

Now imagine a candidate for mayor, let’s say Anthony Weiner - an advanced Internet user - sees this disgruntled group of pre-registrants as a political resource that can become a plank in his campaign, “Elect me mayor and on the first day in office I’ll sign off on .nyc - NO DELAY!”

With the ICANN having offered zero, zip, nada, guidance for cities looking into this once-in-an-Internet opportunity, I can see this as the winning proposition. “There’s no evidence to show that city TLDs are other than revenue generating.” “Our small businesses need it NOW.” “Jobs, jobs, jobs.” “Other cities are going to get a jump on us.” Etc.

More thoughtful candidates will be left to argue for the benefits of infrastructure. ~ Mayor Weiner.

Thomas Lowenhaupt, Founding Director

Connecting.nyc Inc.

Having presented the broad advantages that can arise from a thoughtfully developed .nyc TLD for over 10 years, we are all too aware of the difficulty of selling .nyc as the city’s new digital infrastructure. (See our 159 wiki chapters.) And with ICANN preparing to approve the Application Guidebook for new TLDs at its Singapore meeting on June 20, immediate action is required.

Unless the city or ICANN act quickly to create a period of reflection and a planning process for .nyc (find our recommendations here), this one opportunity to weave this wonder of modernity to strengthen our 400 year old city will be lost. Our opportunity to create an intuitive city with a sustainable .nyc TLD will be lost. And what could be a force for thought, deliberation and uniting, and for establishing New York as a trustworthy center for digital commerce, as imagined in Queens Community Board 3’s April 2001 Internet Empowerment Resolution, will become a shattered dream.

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.^

sustainable-dot-nyc-with-daisys.JPG­­ New York, June 27, 2010 - When the .nyc TLD arrives it will provide a seemingly endless set of domain names to draw upon. But while virtually unlimited in number, we’re mostly interested in good domain names - those that are short, descriptive, and me­morable - and those that serve the residents and their city. And the supply of these can diminish very rapidly if consumption oriented domain name distribution policies are adopted.

New York is a young city, founded 400 years ago. We need to take a “city view” of the .nyc TLD, planning for how it will serve the needs of residents 10, 20, and 100 years from now.  ­How do we plan and create policies that will assure that the .nyc TLD serves us for the life of the TLD? Doing so takes us into the realm of sustainability.

The desirability and necessity of creating sustainable cities and a sustainable planet are acknowledged by everyone these days. While we’ve given some thought to the role of a .city TLD in sustaining a city, we now need to think about how we might create a sustainable city TLD. The .com TLD, stretched to the breaking point, provides excellent examples of  “recycling” that enables limited name reuse via pricing (non-renewals), wait lists, auctions, and of course, the magic of the market.  But are these mechanisms adequate for a city view?

Join us as we begin a conversation about developing policies to assure .nyc effectively serves our city for the life of the DNS. (Image courtesy of Patti Lowenhaupt.)

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

­­My-Issue-Communities-Map.JPGNovember 25, 2008, New York - We received a positive response to our grant application to the Knight Foundation as follows:

“We have completed our review of your application to the Knight News Challenge for Issue-Communities. Congratulations! You have been selected to complete a full proposal.”

Over 2,000 submissions were sent to Knight for part of their hefty News Challenge Grant fund. Of those, 275 remain in contention. In previous years Knight issued about 10 grants, so our chances remain slim, particularly as many of the other submissions are quite good.

We’ve created  a wiki page describing the Issue-Communities concept. If you have any thoughts, send them our way. Knight will not be making a decision on this until the summer, giving others the chance to develop the Issue-Communities independently - with our best wishes - or to join us in making it happen.

Regrettably, there won’t be a public comment opportunity at the Knight website for the second round applications where we had hoped for additional comments on the concept. But our enhanced application (better organized, more details, and with answers to several additional questions) is available on our wiki - see our Issue-Communities page. Let us know what you think.

(Revised December 20, 2008.) (Commons photo courtesy of Geoffrey Rockwell.)  

Learn more about The Campaign for .nyc on our wiki pages.

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