I have spent a lot of time on the road recently. My visits to 16 countries in three months were just one part of ICANN’s busy and successful international roadshows to raise awareness of new generic top-level domains.
Since the roadshows began in September as part of the broader new gTLD awareness-raising effort, ten members of the Board and more than 15 staff members have spoken at over 50 events that ICANN has either participated in or organized. The events have spanned our geographic regions, covering 38 countries, and more are scheduled before the Board-mandated communications period concludes in January.
The goal of the roadshows is to get the message out that a major change is coming to the Internet, and that includes increasing awareness of both the pros and the cons of applying for a new top-level domain. A new gTLD is an opportunity for online innovation but it has risks. Organizations that choose not to apply may need to take steps to protect their brand or name.
We see awareness rising around the world. Media coverage of new gTLDs has been impressive – thousands of articles have appeared around the world since the roadshows began in Brazil on 12 September. The blogosphere and social media platforms are full of commentary.
And in my travels I learned a lot about how this coming innovation is seen around the world. Like the ICANN community itself, views have been mixed throughout the roadshows. We have heard strongly held views on both sides. Most of the discussions were balanced and at every event that I took part in, opposing views were welcomed and often vigorously expressed.
But our goal was never to convince anyone to apply or to sell them on the value of having a new gTLD. It was to give people the facts and let them form their own views.
A great benefit of my travels was the chance to meet so many members of the ICANN community. Dozens of community experts participated actively in the events and in many countries I also met with community members at informal get-togethers.
Many community members also organized roadshow events. I would like to thank them and all our other hosts around the world for their support, engagement and generosity.