NEW YORK — Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the Web, is none too keen on the ICANN proposal to add ten new top-level domains to the Internet.
Berners-Lee spent quite a bit of his Wednesday morning World Wide Web Conference keynote address here attacking the proposed additions.
The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in December submitted a request for proposal for the new domain names. Trade organizations and other “sponsors” submitted all proposals by mid-March. Among the new top-level domain names (TLDs) under consideration are: .asia, .cat, .jobs, .mail, .mobi, .post, .tel, .travel and .xxx. If the domains are approved, they could become active by early 2005.
Berners-Lees keynote follows on the heels of the recent publication of his white paper criticizing the ICANN domain expansion, entitled “New Top-Level Domains Considered Harmful.” Last Friday, the W3C Technical Advisory Group resolved to support the document.
Berners-Lee — who also is the director of the W3C consortium and a senior research scientist with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—argued today that adding domain names indiscriminately is not the best way to insure the Web can scale up and out.
As evidence, he pointed to the handful of new domain names added in 2000, including .biz and .info.
These new domain names havent expanded the total pool of available domain names, as many expected, Berners-Lee said. Instead, many companies that already own .com and .net domain names have felt pressured to buy up the .biz and .info equivalents to protect their brands.
For small companies, the resulting situation is a racket, Berners-Lee said. And even larger companies, which have invested substantially in their short domain names as key branding elements, have been unhappy with the pressure, he added.
“When you print money, you devalue the money you already printed,” Berners-Lee told conference attendees.
In addition, Berners-Lee called out for criticism the newly proposed .xxx domain name for adult content.
“Weve been here before,” he said. “People have very different ideas of what is adult content.”
Instead of attempting to group all adult content under a .xxx brand, he said, metadata and filters can be used more effectively to create an adult-content repository.
Berners-Lee also questioned the grounds for a .mobi mobile domain. The .mobi has the backing of Nokia, Samsung, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and others.
Even though there is a need for more content that can be browsable from PDAs and cell phones, a separate domain isnt the way to achieve this, Berners-Lee said.