Sometime soon—like maybe even by the end of this year—the dot.com empire will be a thing of the past. Not what they stand for, mind you, but the actual .com nomenclature... at least if most of us have our way. Already, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers [ICANN] has rolled out .xxx.
Up until recently, .com was the most valuable suffix on the Internet. You’ve all heard stories, I’m sure, about people buying up dozens, hundreds of random .coms with the hope of selling them for profit. And, indeed, people have been making serious money off their foresight. When I was looking to buy the domain for the last company I worked for, the guy squatting on it was asking $50,000. The saddest thing is, if we had not been so scrappy, we would have shelled out the bucks for it with the thinking that no one takes you seriously if you’re a .net or a .biz. Never mind that BoingBoing.net, Justin.tv and ad.ly have all proven that notion wrong. Big venture capital-backed start-ups actually build entire products around .coms that are available vis-à-vis those that are not.
But soon, that will all change. This site, for example, will be able to purchase mental.floss, or even mentalflo.ss. That’s the idea behind .Whatever. Conceivably, one could buy any suffix they wanted. There are issues still to be sorted out, however. Like, what’s Pepsi going to do when someone registers Pep.si or even P.epsi? It could cause brand owners monumental financial damage, to say nothing of the trademark legal nightmare waiting in the wings. But, as far as I’m concerned, it’s a step in the right direction. The .com class war has always irked me. Why should a domain be off-limits to someone just because they can’t afford to pay a squatter?
Of course, this all might be a non-issue in a few years when the entire Internet is app-based and the Web browser is dead. And that might be the best solution of all. Facebook on my iPhone, for example, is domain-free—it’s just an app and I really have to say I prefer it that way. But until the walled-gardens overtake the Interwebz, .whatever is exciting. Hey, the kids think so too, right? Look how long they’ve been chanting “whatever” to every other point someone makes!