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.nxt con tells it like it is

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A revolutionary change is coming to the Internet this year – and you probably know nothing about it.

El Reg regular Kieren McCarthy has set up a conference next week in San Francisco aimed at shaking people out of their stupor. “The biggest landrush in history is just months away but instead of people sitting on their horses raring to go, they are still in the bar, completely unaware and boring everyone with stories of Zuckerberg,” he says. Called .nxt, the conference aims to tell people about the creation of 500 new dot-coms that will go live in 2012 and radically transform the way we see and use the Internet.

“In terms of names on the Internet, we are still living in 1999. There is no earthy reason why addresses should end in the three letters ‘c’, ‘o’ and ‘m’ – except for the fact that’s how it has always been and there isn’t enough competition in the market to change it. But that is all going to change in March.”

In March, also in San Francisco, domain name system overseer ICANN is going to finalize the rules for new “generic top-level domains” or gTLDs, and open the top-level of the Internet’s naming systems to the same competition that it did in 1999 when it broke the dot-com monopoly and forced Network Solutions to sell its domains through third parties. That decision was one of the triggers of the dot-com boom when companies such as GoDaddy and Tucows made buying an Internet address as easy as clicking a mouse, while also bringing the price down from $50 to $6.

McCarthy predicts the same thing will happen with gTLDs. “When we open out this market so we can have a dot-blog, a dot-eco, a dot-nyc, a dot-news, a dot-whatever, we are going to see a massive change in what people can do online. Suddenly it’s a matter of what we as Internet users want – not what we are given. I have no doubt the next Google or Facebook will emerge through a new extension.”

So if this is such a radical change, how come we haven’t heard about it? McCarthy, who used to work for the organisation, blames ICANN. “The reason we aren’t reading huge articles in Wired of the New York Times yet is because of the convoluted process used to decide what the rules will actually be.”

Those rules have been five years in the making and were due to be approved last December but were delayed again after governments objected to some details. However, last week, the ICANN Board produced a series of formal resolutions that made it clear it was going to use its March meeting in San Francisco to draw a line under the process and approve an “Applicant Guidebook” for those that want to apply. When that happens, there will be just four months before the organization starts taking applications, and three months after that, the window will close, possibly for another five years.

“It is a tiny amount of time for people to get up to speed, get a business plan in shape, get the financing ready and apply,” McCarthy says. “By the time most people have heard of it, they’ll have just a weeks to act.”

Hence the .nxt conference, which bills itself as a business conference for those interested in “the next Internet revolution”. On the agenda are a long list of CEOs and VPs from Internet infrastructure companies, as well as ICANN representatives, domainers, marketers, and the applicants themselves.

“Everyone you will ever need to create a new piece of the Internet will be in one room at one time,” McCarthy pitches. “And you can ask them anything you like.”

One of those that will be there is someone who most profited from seeing where the domain name system was going early on: the owner of Sex.com, Gary Kremen. “Gary will be giving a fireside chat on the Wednesday about domains and Sex.com and whatever else comes into his head.”

Also there will be our very own Cade Metz who is moderating a session on how and when to apply for a new extension.

The .nxt conference will run from 8-10 February at the Hyatt Regency in downtown San Francisco. Entrance is $495 but Reg readers get a $50 discount if they use the code EL-REG when registering. Go to http://dot-nxt.com for more details, or go here to book directly. ®

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