Monday, June 27, 2011

DotAfrica .everything: Not a Boring story

One of my favorite East African journalists, Charles Onyango Obbo recently gave an analysis of the newgTLD process and its impact for the future of internet in a post titled "Boring story: The future is dotAfrica, dotNairobi and even dotKilimanjaro" . Charles begins his story by telling his readers that the issue of dotAfrica will bore them to death; this is the attitude that we need to dispel as we move forward towards the implementation stage.

The mainstream media covering these issues needs to be educated on the vital importance of the newTLD program that will usher in  hundreds domain name extensions into the cyberspace. So users will not just have .com .org but something more exciting like .africa .bank .shop .eco .green .This is not just a tech issue but there are trademark issues, branding issues, political and social issues involved. The recent launch of .xxx has proven that domain names are not a reserve of tech and internet geeks but an issue that affects everyone. I was very impressed by two posts by some Canadian mainstream media introducing the newTLDs to the audience, 'Exciting new businesses' could be built around new top-level domain names and What's in a name? It could be a fortune on the Internet

I hope African and global media can take cue and excite their audiences to the tremendous potential of the new gTLD program. 

ICANN has posted a request for comments on its website asking the internet community to give suggestions on how best to market the newTLDs to the global community. ICANN has also posted a nice video on YouTube titled Get Ready for the next big .THING.



I know the world's marketing and internet community will come up with thousands exciting proposals for taking the newTLDs to the masses but the media needs to be a good partner in this by giving out truthful information that informs and encourages people to embrace the new possibilities of the internet.

Simplifying the message to reach and capture the imagination of millions of internet users is a very easy first step. DotAfrica will be the .com for Africa that will enable Africans to have web addresses like www.homes.africa www.culture.africa . The newTLDs will enable the creation of web address extensions for geographic names like Nairobi. So you can have .nairobi (DotNairobi) to serve the Nairobi city and enable people to easy locate resources within Nairobi through web addresses like www.travel.nairobi . Similarly you can have .lagos .kampala .cairo .cape . You can have a .brand too!!Kenya Airways can I apply for a .KQ , KLM can apply for a .KLM(dotKLM), Nation MediaGroup can of course have its own .nmg as Charles stated to brand all its products in the NMG empire. So instead of having everything under .com, they can have www.theeastafrican.nmg www.taifa.nmg etc.

But Charles, I do not see EABL fighting for .coldtusker (dotColdtusker) :) , so there is no ugali issue on this. If EABL has a Pan African outlook, perhaps it should go for www.eabl.africa or it can create its own .brand TLD like .EABL or .Tusker but it would better off with .africa since it has so many brands under its umbrella including my favorite Pilsner, so .africa should envelop them all.

The issue of .africa and newTLDs is not therefore a boring story but one of the most exciting events in our time, both inside and outside the tech/ICANN circles. We can even add this excitement to our daily life by incorporating newTLDtalk in our daily speech. Now let me have my cold .tusker before I head .home