.mobi? schmobi… A sensible idea for a useless TLD

Why oh why we need another global TLD – especially one as ungainly as .mobi – goodness only knows. It’s yet another opportunity to extract cash from companies who are “protecting” their brand by registering every domain combination. Whatever. If you can’t remember the domain, have it in an email, a link, a bookmark or – heaven forfend – from Google then adding a spurious new TLD isn’t really going to help.

Much can be made of the fact that the .com/.co.uk/.org/.net of the same root name can be very different companies. So what? If they’re very different you try the options or google. Once you know/remember then there’s no further confusion. People are domain-specific and will remember the site that resonates with them.

A while ago, when I was at the BBC, the bbc.com domain was owned by Boston Business Consulting. They registered it first and – unless they were PBS-listening liberals – may not even of known of Her Brittanic Majesty’s Broadcasting Service. Anyone landing on their site would equally not have confused their home page for BBC News Online even for a second and would have moved on (probably via the helpful link on the BBC.com homepage 😉 ).

I’m not dismissing the issue, but I see it only as a problem during initial searches.

Tim Berners-Lee commented in Edinburgh this year that given his time again he’d have changed the positioning of the ‘.com’ in URLs so that you had a hierarchical ‘description’ of the domain – ie “.co.uk.business”. This would have helped distinguish between CrabHeaven in the UK and CrabHeaven in the US. Still, you wouldn’t know from the name whether it was a soft-shell eat-till-you-drop restaurant or a sanctuary for aging crustaceans.

To demand that level of knowledge (eg having a description that would qualify a domain as .shop, .consultant, .dentist, .evulevillain etc) is unrealistic.

Take “Apple” – whether the computer company (oops – digital iLife business) or the Beatle’s music business – the word has no real descriptive role. That’s branding for you. “Tequila” – the drink? the advertising agency? a hotel? a holiday company? All of them.

With the .com extension becoming effectively invisible and unhelpful in finding the company you’re after we need other mechanisms for finding the sites we’re after.

My own view is that you’ll be found by linkages, by search or by savvy, considered promotion (eg the URL in print material). Having .eu and .mobi extensions will be relevant for a small number of pan-european or mobile-related businesses, but for the rest of us it’s probably not worth the effort.

As URL promotion becomes ubiquitous people’s ability to read, register and remember domains will also improve dramatically – look at how people “understand” without effort the structure of phone numbers, post codes and car registration plates.

If you are keen on making distinctions within your domain, however, there’s a neat tip from one of the commenters on the e-MediTidbits article:

The best solution I see is the suggestion by Travis Smith of Hop Studios in his comment to one of my previous postings: m..com/.net/.org. With this convention, we all get our mobile sites — and we get to type less (assuming your site uses www. now).

And best of all: It’s free.

BBC: From Aaron Hill to Zoffany St

Lovely magazine article, setting out the fascinating history of the A-Z map.

When Phyllis Pearsall, born 100 years ago on Monday, got lost on her way to a party in 1930s London, she set about designing her own street map of the capital. The result – the A-Z – has become a byword for city atlases across the UK.

InternetRetailing appoints award-winning Editor

[Announcement] InternetRetailing appoints award-winning Editor

Really pleased to announce that we have a new, full time, excellent Editor for IR, meaning that my “Launch Editor” role can be retired in favour of ‘Editor in Chief’ (or non-exec). The best suggestion so far has been “UnEditor”. Nice.

We had a gratifyingly strong field of applicants and expect to work with many of the shortlist as contributors in the future. However Emma’s experience in retail, launch experience and writing credentials really got us excited and I can’t wait to see the results of her work in the November edition of the magazine.

Press release after the jump.

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Targeting the 18-34 year olds: pick the right bait

Heather Hopkins – Hitwise UK: What are 18 to 34 Year Olds Doing Online? Managing Content to Your Target Market

Interesting blog posting on the Hitwise weblog as Heather Hopkins mulls the proliferation of free papers targeting this age group. Turning to data (which Hitwise has a-plenty) Heather has looked at their behaviour and suggests the dainties with which one would bait the trap:

in order to attract the 18-34 year old audience, websites such as This is London and The London Paper should consider not just entertainment news and celebrity gossip, but a social aspect or links to social networks such as MySpace, content on wedding planning, reviews of videos and games, and a job board.

That rings true.

Check out the posting for the analysis and data.

BBC ‘ousts’ Rose from M&S and make Green CEO

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Having heard the interview with Stuart Rose this morning on the Today programme I nipped over to the website to ‘listen again‘ in order that I could bring the news of M&S’ internet sales to the readership of InternetRetailing.

Imagine my surprise, therefore, at my scoop! Since 0755 BST Stuart Rose has been ousted and replaced by Philip Green…

🙂

I’m assuming that this will be corrected soon, so in the meantime here’s the fuller running order so that you can enjoy the fun of stumbling across this for yourself.

Fodors: getting user-generated content very, very wrong…

Andrew Edmunds | London Restaurants | Fodor’s Online Travel Guide

Who’d have thought it? Fodor’s, voted Most Trusted Brand by the travelling American Blue-Rinse Saga set (ok – I made that up) getting UGC so, so, so wrong…

I was inviting a friend to my favourite restaurant in all of London Town and – he being new to this parts – thought I’d send him an interwebnet link, entered “andrew edmunds” into google.

The Fodors review seemed the nicest but, upon looking at the site, I find the contribution of “Fernando Hemmingway from The Land of Confused Ducks”. Promising.

I’ve grabbed the entry (in case anyone from Fodors reads this) but it’s reproduced below – with full apologies to anyone who gets sacked as this is parsed by your firewall’s content filter…

The Cream at Andrew Edmunds Isn’t the Only Thing Being Whipped!
Posted by Fernando Hemmingway from The Land of Confused Ducks on 05/22/2006
I was delighted with this restaurant, until I discovered that it was actually a gay bar. I was raped several times by various people, including the head chef. I can only pray he remembered to wash his hands before preparing my meal!

UGC is all well and good, but while the consumer (joker, mendacious troll, saboteur) may _generate_ the words, you don’t have to accept them! It’s your brand, Fodor, look after it!

Now, let’s hope that they have the confit of duck on the menu next week…

e-Consultancy post: ” Web 2.0 needs to lose the social software thing, please “

Web 2.0 needs to lose the social software thing, please | Internet Marketing News and Blog | E-consultancy.com

Interesting post on the vibrant e-consultancy.com blog by Gareth Knight. Gareth’s tired of the obsession with ‘add a blog’ or a ‘social dimension’ to software when there’s so much more to Web2.0 than that. He says:

I wonder if this is because the people who drive solutions to business problems are the managers and CEOs, whilst the people that create and implement new technologies are techies who are scratching an itch they have for something that they can’t already do. The techie is motivated by challenge, whilst the manager is motivated by ROI – simple paradox, but this I think is what is underscoring the situation at the moment.

While I share some of the frustration at oversimplification, I don’t accept the characterisation of the problem. My comment, on their site, reads:

Nice post, however I don’t think that the proposed Dilbertian opposition (ie marketing and CEO woofties versus the Grand Viseors of Truth, technochrats etc) is correct.

Rather I think we’re seeing the latest (but not the last) incarnation of a twofold fascination: 1) human beings desire to communicate with/at others; 2) human beings obsession with commenting on 1.

You could replace “social software” with “My Home Page”, website, instant messenger, texting, the first wave of business flirting (Friendster, Orkut, Ryze), self-promotion (ecademy, linkedin) and now Bebo and MySpace.

All of the systems, ironically, are proxies for human contact so – here on e-consultancy – I’m predicting that we’ll move beyond ‘proxy contact’ for Web3.0 and have truly social approaches. I’ve applied for a bizmeth patent and will be marketing this revolution under the SayingHello i’theStreet [tm] brand. You never know – could work!

In the meantime all of this pseudo-social communication/broadcast/posting activity (more heat than light, even on a good day) simply gives tired brands the veneer of communication and engagement. The real question for brands is how to distinguish substance from form and to engage in a dialogue with customers. To miss this opportunity is to demote a customer into a ‘purchaser’, with all of the consequences for business sustainability that entails.
Posted 22:10 14 Sep 2006 by Ian Jindal

Paper Airplane Designs

This is a great resource! The “Floating paper aeroplane” is my current fave since the folded-back nose adds some ‘heft’ for good, strong throwing, as well as some resilience given the inevitable crashes.

Study well, all dads who need to take their paper plane skills to the next level…

Digital Leica: the M8

I hope that this is true and – if so – that someone gives me one.

UPDATE: it is true. No-one, so far however, has given me one.