Yes, ICANN is accepting applications for new top-level domains. And, yes, Al Gore (and many others) are championing a new .eco TLD. But what will that actually mean? Will it be just like other TLDs that aren't .com? Subjugated to being a cheaper, less convenient (even if more precise) option like .org, .tv, or .cc? Is there any way to save the .eco domain from that fate or, worse, to have it be a cheap and quick tool for effective greenwahsing?
Al Gore's company, Dot Eco LLC, is planning on snapping up the rights to distribute .eco domain names. All they really bring to the table is a big marketing force (in the form of Gore himself) and a promise to distribute most of the profits to charity. There would be no controls on how the domain would work or who would be able to purchase them.
BigRoom, on the other hand, has some more structured ideas. They would control who could and could not get a .eco domain, much like the .edu domain only allows accredited educational institutions. Of course, this also means that they would have to come up with some kind of accreditation program...and that sounds pretty expensive to me. More likely, they would have each buyer pay for the accreditation, and that would not be cheap. So, in effect, you just create a bunch of really expensive domain names.
They're asking people to help define the .eco policy right now, thought it seems to me that there is never going to be a way to exclude Exxon Mobil while including, say Dell or Apple in an objective way.
The BigRoom people also want the .eco domain names to be one piece of a larger scheme in which companies, organizations and individuals share information about their ecological footprint. But accurately determining this information has proven over and over again to be difficult and expensive. It would be wonderful if they created this system and, in order to determine the greenness of a company, you just had to type in nike.eco, but it seems unlikely to me.
In all probability. ICANN will either just reject the .eco TLD, or it will become just one more in a slew of more-specific but less-useful options for domain purchasers. Of course, that doesn't mean I won't be out there trying to get ecogeek.eco at the first opportunity.
written by Trevor Bowden, June 17, 2009
written by Fred, July 14, 2009
written by Jacob, August 05, 2009
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