Business-like, isn't he?


 

 



New Web domains offer second chance for sites by ALAN ZISMAN (c) 2001

First published in Business in Vancouver, Issue #623 October 2- 8, 2001: The High-tech Office column
 

To get to Business in Vancouver's Web site you probably type www.biv.com or www.businessinvancouver.com, but there are, in reality, no such places on the Internet.

Instead, your computer gets in touch with a domain name server to discover that both of these are really human-friendly nicknames for the BIV Web site's real Internet Protocol address: 207.230.226.208.

(You can type that 12-digit number into your browser and get to the BIV's site a few micro-seconds faster.)

Popular wisdom has it that there's a shortage of domain names, at least for the over-subscribed .com domain. In fact, there isn't really a shortage of domain names, but the .com domain is running low on available short, easily recognizable English words that can be registered for new Web sites. If you want to register, say, www.qxr1485ymx.com, you won't have any problems. More common words, however, are probably already taken.

You can quickly check whether a word, name or phrase is available by using what's called a WhoIs service, available online at most domain registrars, such as Vancouver-based Domain People (www.domainpeople.com).

While many common words are already registered, if you're prepared to settle for a longer address many phrases remain available. For instance, www.plumber.com is long gone, but www.jacktheplumber.com was available when I checked.

ICANN (www.icann.net), the mysterious committee that operates behind the scenes to manage the Internet, is aware of the growing shortage of short, snappy .com domain names. As a result, they've created seven new so-called top-level domains (TLDs), making Internet addresses ending with new sets of letters instead of the familiar .com, .net, .org and .ca.

Most of these new TLDs are restricted: you've got to be part of the museum community to register a name ending in the new .museum. Individuals can use .name for personal pages, co-ops get to use .coop and air transport organizations will have .aero while only certified professionals can use .pro addresses.

The .info TLD is unrestricted, open to all comers. And .biz is proposed as a new TLD for businesses worldwide.

Addresses ending with these new TLDs are just starting to come on-stream. Domain registration services have been working with wannabe registrants in a multistep process. For .biz, for example, potential registrants had until this past August 6 to file an intellectual property claim on a name. With this, you had a chance to stake a claim to your trademarks. Following that, registrants could pre-register their desires until September 25, but with no guarantee that they would get their pre-registered domain. On October 1, live registration began. Assuming no intellectual property claims on a name, pre-registrants get priority. If there are multiple pre-registrants for the same name, one will be randomly selected. Hopefully this process will eliminate many of the disputes that we've seen in the past.

This does leave holders of existing .com names in a bit of a quandary, however. If you have been doing business using, say, www.jacktheplumber.com, should you also register www.jacktheplumber.biz? If someone else does, are you risking confusing (and possibly losing) your customers?

And, of course, if all the current holders of .com domain names simply go out and get the same .biz names, then even the additional TLDs won't add many new free addresses.

As for me, I registered www.zisman.ca, on the Canadian top level domain. www.zisman.com is registered by Lotus vice-president Michael Zisman (no relation), who also grabbed www.zisman.org, while www.zisman.net is used by a Dallas law firm, also no relation. I just discovered that www.zisman.info and www.zisman.biz are still up for grabs, but I think I'll leave them for anyone else who has a use for them.


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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan