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That’s Just the Way IT is

This week I met up with a bunch of people in the “domain name” industry.

I find it odd the way it still seems like whenever most people talk about domain names (even including people who are supposedly themselves industry insiders), they act as if it might be an insignificant or negligible thing to consider. Judging by the investments of the world’s leading “online businesses”, most people are simply WRONG.

Yet I am not worried about the so-called 800-pound-gorillas. These oversized egos (in contrast to the man-of-the-street common views) actually seem to be quite underendowed when it comes to brain power, in particular when it come to the finer nuances regarding the domain name industry.

The most obvious nuance most companies overlook is that their brand names are in fact meaningless and empty. Again, this is not commonly well understood: Registering a trademark string (or something like that) means that some government grants (more or less) monopoly power over that string to the trademark registrant. In linguistics, if only one entity rules over a term that way, then it is not considered a language per se, but rather an idiolect (as if it were the case of one lonesome idiot mumbling to themselves). These relatively misguided companies often spend inordinate sums of money on stuff like SuperBowl ads in order to make their trademark strings “well known“, or at least to elicit a sort of Pavlovian response to their manipulative stimuli (see also chapter 4 “Writing (by Machines for Humans)” and also, more recently, “Propaganda Information Technology vs. Indigena Information Technology — the Basic Idea” [ ] ).

Another nuance many 800-pound-gorillas overlook is that feudalism is no longer a viable business model. The largest giants (Google and Amazon) have acquired vast fiefdoms — very large portfolios of proprietary top-level domains. They are apparently attempting to replace the widespread ethos of decentralization with a widespread balkanization into a vast array of kingdoms, in which these 800-pound-gorillas will rule as kings (in at least a few cases, they already rule as such). As long as the peasants of the WWW lack the literacy skills they need to avoid exploitation of their illiteracy by these corporate giants, these money-printing machines seem dead set on making a killing while they can.

This seems somewhat reminiscent of Papal power on the eve of the Protestant Reformation. In my humble opinion, banking on illiteracy seems like a very misguided long-range plan. But perhaps this is more of a short-term “take the money and run” game plan? Maybe by the time the plebs acquire sufficient literacy skills, the gorillas plan to be floating around somewhere in outer space?

Exploitation — that’s just the way it is? Some things will never change?

Never say never.

Saying “never” sounds like the outlook many in the aristocracy might have had on the eve of the French Revolution… if they were even at all clued in regarding what was happening all around them.

During many of my conversations with people this week, many of my talking partners made expressions I would characterize as “knowing smiles” — which is in sharp contrast to the reactions (of amazement or astonishment) I got maybe 10 or 15 years ago. I think none of them were 800-pound-gorillas. They looked more like humans, perhaps 180 pounds?


By New Media Works

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