Of Master Plans & GreeneStreet.nyc

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Jackson Hts., New York, November 23, 2014 – While the language spoken was economics and the focus on ways to plan for further urbanization, last week’s Cities and Development: Urban Determinants of Success conference at New York University provided a salient message for cities planning their TLDs: create a master plan but use a marketing oriented development process.

The conferences’ premise was that urbanization willCommissioners Plan of 1811 continue as our planet’s population increases from 7 to 10 billion, requiring the building of cities for 5 billion additional residents. Paul Romer started things off with The Power of the Grid, a talk that put New York’s Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 at the center of our city’s successful development. Noting the grid’s development utility, its ease for packaging land parcels, and its reservation of 30% of the land for public use (mostly streets and sidewalks), Professor Romer urged that similar grids be central to planning for the 5 billion new residents that will move to cities over the next century.

In making this pitch Romer emphasized the utility the 1811 Plan’s public space, providing the opportunity for 200 years worth of city enhancements: water, gas, electric, and communication utilities below the streets. And transportation below (subways) and on the streets.

As Romer spoke I wondered how well we’d done planning our city’s TLD. Have we provided the capacity to build and evolve over the coming decades? If the Neustar contract is our TLD’s equivalent to the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811, what is the quality of our planning effort? The elements that come to mind are the reserved names – the 800 neighborhood, BID, function, and institution names; the blocked/nuisance names; and the 2,000 premium names set for high-bid auction next year. Have we matched the thoroughness and thoughtfulness of the 1811 city builders? Are there changes we might still make, e.g., would capacity improve if we attached public interest commitments to the premium names?

Romer concluded his presentation noting that in these globalized times the efficiency of a city’s operations was key to corporate decisions on locating their resources. If our digital plan is measured in this regard how will our city fare? Will the hundreds of cities soon to acquire their TLDs learn from our experiences and best us?

Moving from telescope to microscope, next up were Bill Easterly and Laura Freschi who gave a 400 year history of one city block – Greene Street between Prince and Houston. The ups and downs of the block were presented in fine detail, from the days of its first European owners – when it was farmland owned and cultivated by slaves – to today’s sheik stores and multi-million dollar residences. The message was that the details of ownership and use are best taken care of by the market.


Most interesting from a city-TLD perspective was the presentation’s concluding slide showing that the good professors had acquired development rights for the GreeneStreet.nyc domain name – see graphic. After the presentation I introduced myself to Bill Easterly and, noting my interest in city-TLDs, asked what the future held for greenestreet.nyc. A jovial fellow, he indicated their intent to use it to present and further their research on Greene Street, and that it was intended for public use.

Later I wondered about governance and access rights by residents of the other 10 blocks of Greene Street, and if perhaps our city would have been better served if our street names had public interest commitments attached.


Report: November 10 .NYC Advisory Board Meeting

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City-HallJackson Hts., New York, November 15, 2014 – The mayor’s .NYC Community Advisory Board met in city hall’s Brooklyn Room on Monday November 10, 2014. The meeting’s highlights included a discussion of metrics that might be used to determine if the TLD has had a positive impact on city life, a report on the Landrush and Landrush auctions, and a preview of future plans.

The metrics discussion was sparked by Jeff Merritt and facilitated by a paper presenting 20 indicators that might be used.

  • city businesses using the TLD
  • government services using the TLD
  • smart portals aiding access to city resources
  • jobs created developing and operating smart portals
  • civic organizations using the TLD
  • improvements to digital literacy
  • schools with digital safety courses
  • properties using their city domain name
  • transportation stations/terminals using their city domain name
  • streets using portal names
  • buses using their city domain name
  • taxis using their city domain names
  • nexus policy audits
  • nexus name adjudications
  • neighborhoods with business/civic portals
  • TLD registry jobs created in city
  • TLD registrar jobs created in city
  • names with active websites
  • sites using DNSSEC
  • parked domains
  • Revenue remaining in city from domain names switched to the .nyc registry from from other TLDs
  • Advertising revenue generated by .nyc sites
  • A Google doc will be published with the board members (and presumably the public) invited to contribute additional indicators and their thoughts on what makes for a successful city-TLD.

    Also of interest was a report on the Landrush auctions, which ended October 3. The preliminary results were presented as follows:

    • A total of 10,506 domain names were requested. (Landrush provided early access to the pool of .nyc names at a premium price.)
    • 9,412 had only one applicant and became eligible for activation at the auction’s conclusion.
    • 1,094 had two or more applicants and required an auction to determine the developer.
    • 933 names were auctioned in 3 phases: those with A-K, L-R, and S-Z names. (160 original applicants did not sign up for the auction. These and 9 or 10 other names – that experienced assorted mishaps – were provided with a “second chance” in a Phase 4 auction. A report on the Phase 4 auction was not available at meeting time.)
    • In the Landrush auction’s first 3 phases 425 names had only one bidder and were awarded for $10 – the minimum bid, 93 were auctioned for between $11-$99, 268 for $100-$999, 145 for $1,000 to $9,999, and 10 went for more than $10,000: Marijuana.nyc, Townhouse.nyc, Karvmaga.nyc, CosmeticDentistry.nyc, Dentalimplants.nyc, PhysicalTherepy.nyc, Orthodontist.nyc, Selling.nyc, CarService.nyc, and bitcoin.nyc.

    The full report on the meeting is available on our wiki here.


    MentalHealth.nyc – $10 wins auction!

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    Jackson Hts., New York, October 31, 2014 – After all the hullabaloo – creating Resolution Hall, the One Today campaign, etc. – the Landrush auction for MentalHealth.nyc ended today with a $10 winning bid. It was a surprising delight. And the name will now be used as a public interest resource. We’ll keep you posted.

    But we  need to make an adjustment to our $1,000 goal for the One Today campaign. We’ve already raised more than the $10 needed to win the auction, and the campaign is set to end November 27. What to do? The One Today rules don’t allow any changes. We can either end the campaign, or we can let it proceed and donate any excess funds to QCNI, the not-for-profit that will be developing the MentalHealth.nyc site. That seems like a reasonable course, and if no one persuades us otherwise, is the  path we’ll follow. (For the curious, we received $12 as of November 7.)


    MentalHealth.nyc On Chopping Block

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    Mental health beheading Jackson Hts., New York, October 21, 2014 – A small Queens mental health facility with which I’m associated today took a step toward rescuing the MentalHealth.nyc domain name from an unknown future. The organization had submitted an application for the name during .nyc’s Landrush and shortly thereafter received an email stating that more than one application for the name had been received; and that a high-bid auction would be held to decide which applicant would be awarded the development rights.

    Today I watched as an account with the auctioneer, SnapName.com, was opened and we discussed how much we should be prepared to bid. Every minute there, focusing on an auction rather than our patients, seemed corrupt or dirty in some way.

    Afterward I thought about ways we might garner the funds win the auction. I first checked out Medstartr.com, but found there was insufficient time. However, we had the opportunity to create a One Today project: Go there and give a buck.

    NOTE: The auction began Tuesday the 28th and ends at 3:15 PM on Halloween. There’s no trick, just give a treat.

    Also, Resolution Hall is still open but spooooooookerly empty.


    Resolution Hall Faltering – Needs A Goose

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    mentalhealth.nycJackson Hts., New York, October 20, 2014 – The MentalHealth.nyc domain name was not reserved as a public interest resource in the review processes leading up to the activation of the .nyc TLD. As a result it was offered for sale during the Landrush period and two or more entities filed an application to use the domain name. A high-bid auction will begin on October 28 and select between the bidders. Development rights go to the winner. This will be a closed auction with the number and identity of the bidders remaining secret – unknown to the potential developers.

    While other important public interest names were reserved, e.g., health.nyc, the city’s review process did not identify this name as worthy of special treatment. (See city’s reserved domain name list.) Wary of MentalHealth.nyc being squandered on a non public health use, (it has been suggested that the name could be fruitfully used to market a comedy club, a magic elixir of some sort…) Connecting.nyc Inc. mimicked the ICANN model for resolving name disputes and created a virtual meeting space, Resolution Hall. There the bidders might locate one another and discuss collaborations or in other ways amicably resolve development rights.

    We’re now days away from the October 28 start of the auction and Resolution Hall is inactive. And the likelihood is that a high-bid auction will assign the development rights for MentalHealth.nyc. Worse, with 1,000 other domain names having received multiple bidders during Landrush, we wonder how many other public interest names might have slipped through the review process. Crazy.

    With Resolution Hall faltering we again urge city hall take the following steps with regard to the 1,000 Landrush domain names set to go to auction beginning October 23:

    • Promptly publish the list of Landrush names that are set to go to auction.
    • Invite and enable city departments, the city council, the .NYC Community Advisory Board, and the public, to identify domain names that should be set aside as public interest resources.
    • Remove the identified public interest names from the October 23 and subsequent Landrush auctions.
    • Establish a process (perhaps Resolution Hall-like space) that facilitates their being developed in the public interest.

    With regard to MentalHealth.nyc: as an officer of a not-for-profit mental health facility that submitted an application for that domain name, I offer the following as a possible solution, (perhaps a prototype for other names):

    • Send an email to all the applicants for MentalHealth.nyc asking them to declare their intent to use the name as a public interest resource.
    • Put those entities with a declared public interest use in touch with one another to discuss possible collaborations.
    • If no compromise is reached by the various public interest applicants, a high-bid auction might be one method of resolving disagreement.
    • Organizations without a public interest goal for the names should be instructed to seek an alternative name.

    The auctions begin on October 23 so action by city hall is needed immediately.

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