By Chris Dillon, on 11 May 2012
In March 2009, Dr Anna Clark, then Director of Business Partnerships, first mentioned ICANN’s intention to internationalise the Internet with the greatest expansion of generic Top Level Domains since .com, .org, .net etc. were implemented in 1985. She had the vision to realize that UCL is in a position to play a key role in this exciting new phase, as in co-operation with its Bloomsbury neighbour, the School of Oriental & African Studies, UCL is the world’s leading centre of linguistic expertise. Over 80 languages are taught and researched here, the nearest competitor teaching less than 30. My greatest hope is that this project makes this fact more widely known and attracts similar projects accordingly.
In February 2010, working with InterConnect Communications Ltd, a company with much experience in the field of Internet governance, I lead the UCL part of a three-hour presentation to ICANN in a large pink room with chandeliers in an L.A. hotel. We got to the end of our 50 slides, unlike some of the competitors who, apparently, were shot down by questions they could not answer. We were successful in all three bids:
1. primary panel for String Similarity (is the gTLD similar to an existing or applied-for one?)
2. secondary panel for Geographic Names (is the gTLD a city or region name?)
3. secondary panel for Community Priority (does the gTLD represent a community?)
Further information: http://newgtlds.icann.org
Delays occurred as the political and legal (commercial, security etc.) implications of the change became apparent and as contracts were drawn up. Meanwhile I interviewed and trained linguists to form a team covering all major world languages.
It is wonderful that we are now ready to start work three years after I first heard of this project.