In my last post, part one of my little experiment, I talked about how the next evolutionary leap in social networks has to be an open peer to peer network. Obviously this implies that the people somehow own the endpoints of this social network. The equivalent of giving people complete and unfettered control over their MySpace or LinkedIn account, email address, and/or blog.
On the Internet, the starting place,be-all and end-all of finding something online is the URI. You use it for email, you use it to access the social networking sites, you use it to tell people where to find your blog, and a lot of people use it for instant messaging. It’s the entry point for everything; entire companies are built around this fact. In fact, I wrote about this in my last post where I equated owning your own domain name to owning the title to your car.
So, you ask, what would the average person DO with their own domain name? Well, with the right interface, they could easily point it to whatever they think of as their “online identity” (see my last post for more on that as well). Whether they consider their online identity to be a MySpace account, a blog, an email address, a LinkedIn account, or something much cooler than that, it can now be associated with them, and any investment of time they put into promoting their online identity will be theirs forever. Everyone owns the title to their car.
But, how will people get their own domains?
Right now, to get your own domain, you have to use a registrar such as GoDaddy.com or DirectNIC. There, it costs you $7.99 a year or more for a domain name. That’s the only way that I’m aware of to legally acquire a domain name at this point in time.
Obviously, it’s not feasible to expect the general public to pay $7.99 a year for something as abstract as a domain name. The only way to really make this happen, I realized, is to give them away. However, it’s not realistic to think that there’s any possible way to buy everyone on earth a domain name. The registration fees alone would just be massive. However, you can give away sub-domain names, for absolutely nothing.
Well, I did some looking, and I can’t find anyone that’s ever tried to give away sub-domains before. So it’s kind of striking out into new territory here, but here’s my plan so far:
- I bought up a few domains names including atmy.name, myidentity.name, and a few others I don’t like quite as much as those. I plan to form a nonprofit organization to hold ownership of these domains and transfer ownership of them to this organization.
- The organization will run a site at www.atmy.name which will resemble the mockup shown here:
- As you can tell from the screenshot, the site will allow people to search for unclaimed subdomains such as jasonkolb.atmy.name, and claim legal ownership of them. A digital land-grab, in a way. It will be supported by donations and possibly advertising or sponsorships on the home page. It will also facilitate donating new domains to the nonprofit.
So, this is the first step in my little project. I have to get the atmy.name site working. I’m in the process of checking with a few lawyers to see what specifically is entailed in legally giving someone a sub-domain, but I can’t imagine that it’s much different from what’s involved in giving someone ownership of a top-level domain. Of course, if anyone else would like to tackle this please, by all means, help yourself.
Giving everyone a URI essentially puts everyone on the same grid. We gain the ability to address everyone in the same way and expect something back. However, when it gets really cool is when you start layering some structure on top of that capability–all kinds of new possibilities emerge. But, that’s a topic for next time.
Here’s a link to Reinventing the Internet, part three: Unlocking the potential of the URI