Location, location, location
THE dot com domain was 25 years old last year, with its first quarter-century celebrated online by Symbolics ( who registered the first dot com in March 1985), a 25Yearsof. com website and presences on Facebook and Twitter.
The . com domain was originally run by the US Department of Defence, then by Network Solutions and Versign in turn.
During the dot com boom, it was fashionable to include the . com in company names, with successful enterprises like Sun Microsystems even using the tagline We’re the Dot in Dot Com. How times have changed. Or have they? Like. fm, Bit. ly and Tiny. url are continuing the trend of adopting domain location surnames still. But fashions fade fast online. With memorable names suffixed by . com now hard to acquire, many companies are choosing to register their domains overseas.
But be warned, Western companies that buy domain names of other countries are vulnerable to the laws of those domain registrations.
Websites with the trendy suffix ly, owned by Libya, are now wondering if they have invested wisely by building their business around the domain suffix.
The abrupt enforced shutdown of link shortening site vb. ly by the Libyan Government is a lesson to all.
The site was declared against Sharia Law after posting a picture of Violet Blue, co-owner with Ben Metcalfe, with bare arms, drinking from a bottle of beer.
The government-owned Libya Telecom and Technology service objected, explaining that ‘‘ pornography and adult material aren’t allowed under Libyan law, therefore we removed the domain’’.
When buying a . ly domain, the owners were warned that they must comply with the country’s laws. Sites containing obscene, scandalous, indecent or contrary to Libyan law or Islamic morality words, phrases or abbreviations are not allowed.
Neither are sites linking to gambling, sexual activity or criticisms of the government; all of these can be banned or have their service suspended.
Libyan domain registration is not the only sensitive territory, either. Companies are incorporating domain suffixes into their brand, with Bit. ly, Ow. ly, Ad. ly and Good. ly raising millions of dollars in investment.
Business interests aside, the rise of global domain hosting shows how our ideas of national boundaries are changing, particularly on the World Wide Web. When domain names were new, nationally relevant suffixes such as . com. au and co. uk offered a sense of local identification.
But the internet has become more international with time and now national identifications are being bought and sold, without any relevance to the countries represented by . it ( Italy), ly ( Libya) and fm ( Micronesia).
Perhaps more than ever, domain names are all about . me ( Montenegro, for those playing at home).