The emergence of several “green” top level domains (TLDs), including DotGreen (.green) and Dot Eco (.eco), have created quite a stir among many sustainability proponents. (Check out the comments on a previous .eco Triple Pundit article , a Living Green article, and another Triple Pundit piece to see some of their opinions.) It doesn’t appear, though, that this skepticism is shared by several groups that matter most. The BBC reports that at least two environmental groups – including the original .eco creators (backed, incidentally, by former U.S. vice president Al Gore) and a Canadian group called Big Room, are vying for control of the .eco domain. Are these companies on the cutting edge, or are they toying with a can of worms?
On the Cutting Edge?
To reiterate the above mentioned article, the potential benefits of green domain names are that they could create a sense of “community” among participating sites, give these sites online credibility, and possibly even increase the groups’ chances for obtaining funding. The group that controls the .eco TLD would assume the position of distributing funds participating companies obtained through their .eco websites – a position of philanthropy- and green-economy-promoting, the groups claim.
Or Toying with Worms?
Alas, like any prize, the .eco TLD idea has its underbelly. Most people interested in sustainability want to see the movement woven into the fabric of people’s everyday lives – not sequestered to a region of the web unlikely to be accessed by anyone besides green enthusiasts. Moreover, when the question of profit comes into play, my hackles hop to attention. Will the sustainability movement really benefit from green TLDs, or is this just another underhanded grab for cash?
Moreover, what, exactly, differentiates the two organizations enough to legitimize their TLD-control battle? Didn’t both the .eco founders and Big Room tell the BBC that they plan to contribute a chunk of their profits gained from controlling .eco to the development of sustainability projects worldwide?
Yes, but the respective groups’ requirement for inclusion in the domain would likely differ, albeit slightly. For example, while both groups would require that any .eco organization prove its (low) carbon footprint, under .eco’s founders’ control, the protocol may not be as strict. In the words of .eco’s co-founder Minor Childers, .eco websites “should give the opportunity for the 13-year-old environmentalist [as well as established businesses] to have a website.” In fact, the only reason the .eco domain is possible is that Icann, the regulatory body that oversees domain names, relaxed its rules on TDDs last year. (The .eco founders and Big Room will apply to Icann to control the domain by its launch in 2010.) Now, companies can turn brands into web addresses, individuals can turn their names into domain names, and environmental groups can…
What do you think the outcome will be?