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Here’s how we enter the .future

So, after years of policy and development work, yesterday ICANN released a draft version of the Applicant Guidebook for those interested in applying for a new “generic top-level domain”.

Or, as Associated Press put it “preliminary guidelines for the introduction of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of alternatives to ‘.com’ in the first sweeping changes to the network’s 25-year-old address system.”

A huge amount of thinking and work has gone into this, as anyone who reads the six-module guidebook and the accompanying explanatory memoranda will realise. But because it is such a complex issue – opening up the Internet like never before – we need more eyes on it than the GNSO representatives and the ICANN staff that have got it to this point.

That’s why the whole thing is out to public comment. And because it is a big document, we have set up different comment areas for each module (as well as one for the guidebook as a whole in case people prefer to comment that way).

Alot of people have raised concerns about expanding the namespace over the past few years, and those comments have been listened to and taken into account. ICANN has said “wait until we produce the draft RFP, then if you still have concerns, let’s talk”.

Well, that time has come. The documents are out in English; soon they will be out in Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish and Russian. We will have a large number of sessions on them in Cairo in two weeks; we have a 45-day comment period open. We will have more sessions and more comment periods before this is finalised.

So, if you want to help guide the future evolution of the Internet, now’s the time to download a few documents, read them, give it some thought and then share with both the community and the world your thoughts on how we do this right. ICANN looks forward to hearing from you.

Please visit the specific public comment page set up for supplying your feedback at: http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtld-comments-en.htm

Update: I’ve just been told that our first correction is in. George Kirikos has noticed a discrepancy on the issue of price controls on previous new gTLDs, so we have added a clarifying note. Thanks George, please keep ‘em coming.

You can download the Guidebook and its modules (all pdf files) at the links below:

Individual modules:

Comments

    Domain Name System
    Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as""icann.org"" is not an IDN."