March 6th, 2009
This is James Seng.
First, I would like to thank the staff who have work very hard for the revised gTLD RFP. The quality of the RFP clearly show the effort the staff have put into the document, despite facing very challenging and sometimes conflicting comments from the community.
It is important for me to pay tribute to the staff because what I am going to say may sound ungrateful, and I am certainly not.
When I started using the Internet in the early 90s, it was an Angelo-centric Internet. We dream about an Internet that is truly international where English is not a prerequisite. There is a slogan then from ISOC – “Internet for everyone, everywhere”, remember?
In 1999, I demonstrated IDN at APRICOT/ICANN. I went on to chair the IETF IDN WG in 2000 defining the standard for IDN as we know now. I have conducted numerous workshops here at ICANN, also at ITU and other international forum on IDN.
I have dedicated nearly a decade of my life on IDN. I have no regrets and gladly doing it all over again.
So I am really proud that I finally get to see my dream, a 10 dream, of a fully-internationalized domain name coming true.
Yet, as we embark on the next great step forward, of IDN TLD, I am also disappointed that despite all these years, ICANN remains as Angelo-centric as ever.
Why do I say that? Two examples.
In the latest revision of the RFP, there is a legacy 3 character limitation on GTLD. The arcane rule has extended from 3 ASCII character to 3 Unicode character, assuming an Angelo-centric view of “character” apply to the rest of the world. A “Unicode character” in CJK is not a “character” but a “word”.
Imaging having a rule that say “Your English TLD has to be at least 3 words long”. That what ICANN is telling the CJK community.
Second example, despite our work on JET Guidelines, the RFP is silent on IDN variants. I shall not go into the technicality of variants but imaging ICANN saying “.shop” in small letter goes to A but “.shop” in upper case to goes to B. The confusion it will cause to the CJK community is unimaginable.
I spent a lot of time with the ICANN staff this week on these issues. I am happy to say that the staff, Tina, Kurt and Patrick, are extremely understanding to our problem.
I thank them very much for their time and effort.
I am not here to whine but to bring proposals. I won’t go into detail right now but I hope it will be accepted.
Let me end with a story: At the Joint SO/AC meeting this week, the moderator posted a question to the audience, “In the RFP, do you agree that IDN TLD has the most well-defined need?”. It is the only question that has 100% green flags. So if there is such thing as a “priority” in this RFP, then the priority MUST be IDN TLDs.
In 2008, the largest growth of domain names, excluding .com comes from Asia.
If ICANN is sincere about making GTLD successful, I beg you, please do not fumble in Asia.