The Internet is about to undergo a growth spurt. Hundreds of new Net domains will go live this year, driving an almost 50-fold increase over the long-standing 22 domains such as ".com" and ".net."
Some of the Net address endings, or new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) as they are known, have already gone live in recent days including ".guru" and ".singles." And several non-English domains including the Chinese characters for "network" just became operational, followed by another wave of generic domains -- among them ".camera" and ".gallery" -- up for grabs starting [Wednesday].
This unprecedented increase in Net domains promises a wave of opportunities for online identity building. "For the first time in a long, long time, you are going to have relevant short identities for your online presence," says Mason Cole, spokesman at Donuts, a Bellevue, Wash.-based Net registry that plans to launch more than 100 new domains this year.
"Rather than the vague '.com' or '.org' ... now a business, an individual, family or organization can attach an Internet presence to a term that is very specific," Cole says. "If you are into biking, you now have '.bike.' If you are a plumber, you now have '.plumbing.' If you are a pizza restaurant, pretty soon you are going to have '.pizza.'"
Before the year 2000, there were only eight domains used -- ".arpa," ".com," ".edu," ".gov," ".mil," ".net," ".int" and ".org." (There were also country codes such as ".us" and ".uk.") Two subsequent expansions yielded domains such as ".biz" and ".xxx" to bring the total of non-country domains to 22.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the non-profit group that manages such Net tasks, has approved more than 1,300 new domains, but will keep the additions to 1,000 or less this year. More than 120 new domains have been added to the Internet and will become available in the coming weeks.
"ICANN's function is to increase competition and creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit," says Brad White, the group's director of global media affairs.
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