As of Thursday, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the primary governance organization for World Wide Web IP address infrastructure, opened the application process to register any number of additional generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs).  The top-level portion of the domain name corresponds to the .com, .net, etc., portion of a site’s address.  Under the imminent process, one could attempt to substitute almost anything (think “.financial” or “.grocerystore”) for “.com.”  But is this a prospect people are excited about?

The diffusion created by the indiscriminate registration and usage of numerous gTLDs would remove significant commonality and shared understanding that we as Internet users have come to rely upon.  If the taxonomy of finding things on the Web on a nearly intuitive basis (by associating a given entity or site with a certain gTLD) is altered in a meaningful way now (after many years of people becoming accustomed to current Internet architecture), it would probably be more a detriment to individuals and businesses connecting with one another than an Internet growth generator.

If you, as an individual or entity, however, decide you want to apply for a new gTLD, you have until March 29, 2012 to formally reserve that ability.  You then have to complete a cumbersome application by April 12, 2012 (expect it to require enough effort that you might want to get started on it tomorrow).  As of yet, ICANN has not announced any other subsequent registration periods.  Not sure they will be necessary unless somehow the idea of rapidly expanding the number of gTLDs gains momentum in a way that we have not seen in the days since last summer when the initiative was approved.

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