recommended reading

The Biggest Land Rush in the History of the Internet Starts on February 4

Vlasov Volodymyr/Shutterstock.com

The Web is about to have its big bang. About 1,000 new generic top-level domain names, or gTLDs (the last bit of an internet address, such as the com in qz.com or Nextov.com) will come into existence this year. On Feb. 4, anybody will be able to create and start running a website on the first of the new domains. The number of alphabets in which you can create a web address will go from one—Latin—to at least a dozen including Chinese and Arabic. Hundreds of millions of dollars will be made. And our conception of the web will change entirely.

You may not have heard about this. That’s unsurprising. The infrastructure of the internet is rarely a sexy subject, except when it breaks spectacularly. New standards are constantly being adopted in the background. Who can keep track?

The coming deluge of new domains is different. It is highly visible, and will affect everybody who uses the web. What’s less certain is whether it is strictly necessary. Proponents argue that it will benefit people and businesses (small ones especially) by giving them more addresses to choose from. Critics call it a massive land grab by both entrepreneurs and some of the world’s most powerful internet companies.

First, a little background

Domain names, properly known as Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) and more commonly known as web addresses, are overseen by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). They follow a hierarchy, much like physical addresses. If the web were a country, then a generic top-level domain like .com might be the state or province, and a second-level domain, like google.com, would be a city. Neighborhoods within the city can be found in either a suffix (google.com/images) or a prefix (images.google.com).

Until 2013, there were only 22 functioning gTLDs. The most familiar predated the creation of ICANN: .com, .net, .org, .edu, .gov, and .mil. Another seven came into existence in 2000, and a further eight in 2004. Most of the new domains in these two waves never really took off. You will sometimes spot .biz or .info in the wild, but more niche ones such as .mobi (aimed at mobile sites) and .xxx (for porn) got little attention from the markets they were aimed at.

In addition, countries get their own top-level domains, called ccTLDs. Familiar examples include .de (Germany), .ca (Canada) or .co (Colombia, now used mostly for other purposes). These form another huge chunk of the internet.

Read the full story at Quartz.

(Image via Vlasov Volodymyr/Shutterstock.com)

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.