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August 6, 2013

Move aside .com: Other domains are joining the Internet

(Continued)

At the time, according to Partridge, the team wasn't even sure how much use these domain names would get because, he says, "it wasn't clear that people were ever going to be on the Internet."

The first dot-com was registered on March 15, 1985, to a computer manufacturer in Cambridge, Mass. Symbolic Inc. became Symbolics.com.

Twenty-eight years later, Google has applied for dozens of the new top-level domain names — Amazon, too. The $185,000 fee is prohibitively costly for most small-business owners, exceptions such as Adrienne McAdory not withstanding.

Almost as soon as the decision was announced, doubters began to question how this was all going to work. Things like trademark issues: Who can truly own the Bible, for example? (The American Bible Society can — they're priority No. 1,114 in ICANN's randomly drawn list of submissions. In the application for .bible, the stated intention is to "Provide world-wide access to all qualified parties interested in disseminating or seeking information . . . about Bible issues.")

Others worry that the new Web will simply require too much of our brains: If we sometimes screw up whether a site is a .com or a .org, will we truly be able to remember whether it's a .book or a .church or a .music or a .party?

"The changes are going to add specificity and introduce a new search logic," says Jennie-Marie Larsen, who started a consulting firm just to help businesses figure out what to do with their new domains. And, she hopes, it will tie existing communities closer together: A few years from now, all equestrian fans of the world might unite under .horse, which has been purchased by Top Level Domain Holdings, a business created for the new market. From the application: "The purpose of the .HORSE . . . is to offer horse owners, service providers, horse industry employees and volunteers the opportunity to clearly define their presence on the Internet and to help potential customers gain access to content about horses."

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