ICANN Approves Jobs, Travel Domains

In a move that is seen hastening the alignment of the Internet into deep vertical segments based on relatively narrow content parameters, the Web’s governing body has cleared the way for two new top-level domains exclusively for jobs and travel information.

The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) gave final approval to the .jobs and .travel top level domains at a public meeting in Argentina.

New Registrars

ICANN said Employ Media will operate the jobs-related domain, while Tralliance Corp. was given control of the travel niche. Both companies are expected to open registries soon, and the domains are expected to be online within several months.

Analysts see the domains providing a possible mechanism for deep wells of specific information to be created, possibly in a way that lessens the reliance among Web users for search tools or certain kinds of Web information aggregators, such as job posting sites.

For instance, typing in a specific URL in the .travel domain could return airfares or other offers for a given destination. Or a user interested in knowing if a company had any job openings could type that company’s name into a browser with the .jobs suffix, which could take him directly to a list of openings at that company.

Still, most analysts see muted impact from the new domains for some time to come. If they catch on, however, ICANN is likely to clear the way for many more such domains that could further change the Web landscape.

Profitable Positions

Both of the companies tapped to operate the domains — potentially lucrative positions depending upon the level of interest from would-be domain owners — said they would work to ensure that only legitimate content owners are given access to the new domains in order to avoid diluting its value to end users.

Tralliance said it would work with The Travel Partnership Corporation (TTPC), a group of some 100 trade associations, to ensure that only travel companies who already have a Web presence are admitted to the new domain.

Employ Media, meanwhile, said it will team with the U.S. Society for Human Resource Management and said its sites would be targeted at companies that want a set-aside place to store their job listings as a way of augmenting their existing Web sites.

Allocating Domains

However, some were already beginning to question whether the domain registrars could effectively keep out less-than-desirable domain owners, such as those attempting to jump another domain name by, for instance, securing the .jobs site when the .com is already taken. Such domain squatting became commonplace in the early days of the .com domain, with some companies forced to spend thousands of dollars to get hold of sites bearing their brand or corporate identity.

That has already been a problem with the .pro domain, ICANN board member Joi Ito said. “Pro was supposed to be a top level domain dedicated to creating a credentialed area for verified professionals and profession-related domain names,” he wrote on his blog about the ICANN meeting. “People have been registering obviously unrelated domains and going as far as selling them on eBay. This clearly violates the spirit of the agreement, but it is still unclear whether anyone is technically violating the [actual] agreement.”

Ito said ICANN was facing some criticism for opening new top level domains while such problems continued on existing ones, but that the group is working on ways to tighten controls across all domains.

The new domains could soon be joined by several more. The agency said it is currently in technical and commercial negotiations on at least three more: .cat, for the Catalan language, not the feline pet — .post for postal services and .mobi, a potential domain where mobile-device friendly content could be consolidated.

More Domain Suffixes

Still being evaluated are five more possible sponsored domains, including .asia, .mail, .xxx, and two separate proposals to develop .tel.

Not everyone is convinced a barrage of new domains will change the Web or even provide much benefit. In particular, the .mobi domain seems to miss the point of better integrating mobile usage into what is already being done on the Web, Gartner research Vice President Phil Redman told the E-Commerce Times.

A mobile domain would encourage the segregation of content in a way that might lead to a cache of second-class content, stripped down and streamlined for mobile use, rather than pushing technology toward better mobile access solutions.

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