In the New York Times City Room blog, Jennifer 8. Lee tells us about a group that’s trying to get the city to sign up for the “.nyc” top-level domain. That’d let us have domains like mta.nyc for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (its existing domain is mta.info, which blocks other cities with MTAs from using that; it also answers to mta.nyc.ny.us, using a subdomain of the state’s second-level domain). It would also, its proponents suggest, open up things like mayor.nyc for the mayor’s office, and traffic.nyc for the traffic department.
Tom Lowenhaupt, who heads the campaign, says, “The role of .nyc is to reconnect the city.” City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who’s planning to introduce legislation in favour of snagging the TLD, has this to say:
A .nyc address gives New York City a recognizable brand name on the World Wide Web. It lets New Yorkers and anyone else search for and find New York City businesses and nonprofit organizations, and helps us further enhance our economic development. It also shows that New York City is truly a digital community on par with the other tech centers across the globe.And from Antony Van Couvering, chief executive of names@work, we hear this:
I think it’s a great identity for New York on the Internet; I think it’s going to bring a lot of yet unknown economic benefits to New York. I think New York wants to be in the first round. I think it would be a disaster if Berlin got one and Paris got one, and New York was scratching its head and saying that we’d better get one, too.
As it happens, I opined about expanding TLDs some while ago (nearly a year ago, now, as it turns out), and my comments were not generally favourable. Setting aside Mr Van Couvering’s hyperbole — “a disaster”, indeed — there seems little harm in using .nyc for official sites such as the mayor’s office and the MTA. But...
For general use, giving the city that “recognizable brand name” will turn out to be much more of a problem and much less of a benefit than one might think. I recently wrote about a restaurant called Pera, with the domain peranyc.com, which could certainly enjoy being able to get pera.nyc — but won’t it still have to keep its old domain? And won’t that mean extra costs to register both? What about major businesses that have branches in New York? Will we see hilton.nyc, starbucks.nyc, and macys.nyc, to go along with their .com addresses? And will those companies soon have to get .miami and .chicago and .dallas domains too? Where will it end?
I see the whole idea of city-based TLDs as a lot of trouble waiting to happen. Ms Lee’s article talks of Berlin and Paris, but suppose Berlin, CT and Paris, NY get them first. Troublemakers in Vienna, VA and Cairo, NY and Moscow, ID and Rome, GA can one-up the major cities, perhaps starting international incidents and whole new waves of holding Internet domain names for ransom.
And even locally, in this town of strongly defined neighborhoods will .nyc be enough? Won’t folks want .brooklyn and .queens too? And then .parkslope, .howardbeach, .dumbo, .harlem, .morningsideheights, and .uppereastside? Chaos is just around the bend, surely. The only way to find anything in such a mess will be through Google or some other search engine, so what benefit will we have gotten from any attempt at a “recognizable brand name”?
No, far, far from “reconnect[ing] the city”, an open .nyc TLD would just result in confusion, bickering, and silliness, disconnecting more than it reconnects.
It’s a bad, bad, bad idea.
 Yes, her middle name is “8.”