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Online Extras: News to Note

August 6, 2013

Move aside .com: Other domains are joining the Internet

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One has to scroll down to prioritization No. 1,317 before one even gets to .horse. Many of the new domain names are not even in the Latin characters that make up the Internet today. This expansion represents the first time that characters of other languages will get a chance at domain names: The No. 1 prioritization has been drawn by the Vatican, or rather, by the Pontifical Council for Social Communication. It applied for a domain in Chinese characters that, when translated, mean "Catholic."

Republicans have acquired .gop — but Democrats haven't acquired .dem (it's yet unclaimed), which Larsen finds fascinating. "It was very clear with the 2008 and 2012 elections that the Obama campaign wiped the floor with them, because of his use of social media," she says. The new development "means the Democrats are out of the game; there's no chance to catch up."

This illustrates the land-grab aspect of the Internet, but it also hints at both the bigness and the smallness of online existence: an Internet so big that it takes nearly 2,000 domain names to contain it all, but one small enough that if a Chinese man visiting the Vatican fell in love with a representative from the American Bible Society while pursuing their dressage obsessions on .horse, they could announce their nuptials with a personal site on .wed.

Symbolic, the company that registered the very first .com, doesn't exist anymore. The Web site, Symbolics.com, does.

The site is now owned by a man in Texas named Aron Meystedt. His company, XF Investments, buys and sells a lot of Web addresses; acquiring Symbolics.com four years ago represented a coup — a "legitimacy piece," as he calls it — one that he'd been eyeballing for years before the opportunity arose. (No, he won't say how much it cost — there's a non-disclosure agreement in place, he says.)

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