First Published August 1995. Computer World Canada:
What do mcdonalds, wieners, kingsway, badbreath, velveeta, dandruff, bologna, aol, underarms, frozendinners and pimples have in common? Surprisingly enough (to some anyway), they are all domain names registered on the Internet. Yes, Kraft Foods and Proctor and Gamble are just the latest in the mad scramble (that's a good word) to get domains with this, the registering party, have exclusive rights (some would spell that rites) to use badbreath.com bar none, within the entire known universe of the Net (exclusiverights.com?)
What appears to have sparked this feeding frenzy, is the sudden realisation of just exactly what "http://www.saladressing.com" actually means. More to the point of course, there is the realisation that this can, and no doubt within a finite time, will mean $$$$ (bigbucks.com?) For a company with a few million dollars profit per year, registering a domain on the net is even better than a good joke. (isthatalitcost.edu?).
Until a few months ago, all anyone with a Mega Mainframe, a $150.00 PC, or in reality nothing at all, could simply request any (indeed every) domain name of their choice. If no one else had got their act together, then essentially, free of charge, EXCLUSIVE AND CONTINUOS world wide rights (give or take a suegrabbitandrunne.org), then belonged to this party. The corporate world only began to sit up and take notice after Wired magazine registered mcdonalds.com (quarterpounder.com?) just to show them what they were missing. By this time of course all those dweebies who have been quite happily running the net for years without count, had registered........ well positively all sorts of things. At a recent UNIX gurus meeting I attended (luckily, you do not have to be a guru to attend), everyone was in fits as some of the more outrageous domain names were recounted. This situation could not of course, last forever.
Historically, the net was put together by the United States armed forces to enable communications to continue even if there were a direct nuclear hit on a main routing facility (holycatastrophy.gov?). The technology employed not only met this goal, but has since further evolved through many innovations into a global enterprise far outstripping any original concept (anarchy.net?). As recently as three years ago, the "Net" was still basically a nerdy ideal dedicated to research, educational and non profit establishments. As commercial feelers extended into the CyberWorld, more commercial ideas would (ipsofacto.com?) have to make their ugly entrances.
For many years, this pure anarchy was loosely tied down by InterNIC (cyberboss.org?), an underfunded establishment somewhere in Virginia, by 20 people who registered these domains for "universal" use. These overworked devotees, checked for current use of domain names (essentially a cyber licence number with directions to locate the owner). The U.S. government sponsored these Netophiles to monitor the use and disuse of these names on a first come, first served basis. After a few messy legal battles, finally, to the horror of some of the long time aficionados of the Net,Ê some form of structure (org.org?) has recently been applied to the longstanding state of affairs (freeforall.org) in the guise of Network Solutions (capodetutucapi.net?). This Virginia based company now intends to levy a charge of US$50.00 (your milage may vary) to register headache.com. They also require you to certify that you have a legal right to the proposed domain name. Many are not amused! :>(
According to the Economist, a magazine, one year ago, there were 22,000 commercial (.com) domains, a few weeks ago, the count was over 100,000 with 10,000 registered in the first two weeks of August alone, and racing away (withgayabandon.com?). It estimates that there are approximately 20,000,000 such "useful" E-mail addresses; then you're out of luck (gameover.com?) .
Of course, you or your company may still be in luck (is that the right word?), however, some business still appear to be a little hesitant to register. I had been telling a friend of mine for years to register his company name as a domain; "soon, soon - I pay people to do that for me," he would say. He eventually got around to it a year ago, only to find out that it had been registered to someone in New Zealand for 8 months (itoldyouso.edu?).
If you resist the Dark Side of procrastinating, and DO SOMETHING (shouting.org?) you may obtain in perpetuity, the ability to use your epithet, your children's and grandchildren's etc., replete with the name of your company (or street etc. if you like), as you feel fit, to make the neatest, easiest, direct address not only to the world, but to all the known and as yet unknown universe where an Internet node resides, something brief and snappy, something like, well lets just say
I like it, I definitely like it! (firstname.lastname@example.org?)
Byline: Jim Smith is a bona fide data-dude and gets a great kick out of instructing computers to do exactly what he tells them to. He is also president of Kingsway Computing. Jim can be contacted at (416) 710-3290 or of course at his epithet centric, cyber equivalent email@example.com.