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Waiting for the .Green Light: After Spending 5 Years Preparing to Run a New gTLD the DotGreen Community's Fate Rests in ICANN's Hands

By Ron Jackson 

Within the next year or two hundreds of new domain extensions are expected to go live as part of ICANN's new gTLD program (for newcomers to the domain space, TLD stands for Top Level Domain -  the word or letters to the right of the dot in a domain address -  for example .com or .net. gTLDs are Global TLDs that are open to registrants worldwide. Another TLD category, ccTLDs, are country code domains that are administered as individual nations see fit (some are open for global use while others are reserved for the individual country's citizens). Examples of ccTLDs are Great Britain's .uk, Germany's .de and America's .us).

While a few new gTLDs have been launched over the past decade, such as .info and .biz, the Internet has never seen a mass release of hundreds of new extensions at once. That is going to create a significant challenge for operators of new gTLD

Image from Bigstock

registries - how are they going to break through the clutter and achieve the public awareness they will need to sell enough domain registrations to become a going concern (and recoup the hundreds of thousands of dollars it will cost to launch each new gTLD). 

Annalisa Roger
DotGreen Community Founder & CEO 

It will take a lot of marketing money and a lot of legwork to get over that hurdle. It is a task that will take most new TLDs years to accomplish (if it is accomplished at all). That is something that one prescient applicant who hopes to administer the .green registry - Founder & CEO Annalisa Roger and her team at the DotGreen Community Inc. has always understood - probably more so than anyone else in the new gTLD race. That's why they have already been spreading the .green gospel and building public awareness for the extension for over five years now. Talk about getting a head start

Even so, with three other applicants also chasing .green, the race is still far from over, but what DotGreen Community has done to date serves as a textbook example of how to build public recognition and support for a new gTLD to give it the best possible chance for success. Many of you have already met Ms. Roger at one function or another over the years and if you haven't met her yet, odds are you soon will. She has circled the globe several times over to get her message across. We spoke with her at length to find out what prompted her to begin this journey in 2007 and what she has done to get out the word on .green. We also wanted to know how she plans to tackle the challenges that lie ahead in her efforts to win the .green extension and bring her long term vision to life.  

As to what got her started down this road, she may not have had a choice as the web is in her DNA. Annalisa's dad, Peter de Blanc, was an Internet pioneer, getting involved with the web in the mid 1980s and going on  to serve as the administrator of the Virgin Island's .VI ccTLD until he passed away in 2002. Peter, an electrical engineer, was also a talented inventor who designed electronic circuits for professional audio and lighting control applications and owned his own music recording studio, DB Labs in Marin County, California in the 1970s. The custom sound mixing consoles he designed and built were used by many of the most famous recording studios and artists of the day.

In the mid 1980’s Peter got involved with the nascent Internet while he was working as a Communications and micro computer specialist for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in the Eastern Caribbean (UNIDO  is the only arm of the UN that specifically assists the private sector involved computer training, network designs and consultations). Peter pioneered Internet availability in the Virgin Islands by creating the VIP Free Net which brought text based free public access for all in the Virgin Islands.  Annalisa recalls, 

"An historic moment was celebrated in September of 1994 when all who were there in the room sent an email to the President of the U.S. telling him the U.S. Virgin Islands was now online!"

Annalisa added, "At the INET 95 Conference in Honolulu Peter presented a paper called Networking the Carribean via the VIP FreeNet. At a time when a copy of the Sunday New York Times cost $12.00 in the Virgin Islands, he saw the importance of a level playing field with regards to access to information with the rest of the world rapidly engaging in the new communications system.  He started the first ISP and the first website for the region, and he provided the public library and schools with computers and started teaching everyone from kids to business professionals how to use them and the wonders of email."

"Peter was also involved in and dedicated to ICANN since the year it was first organized and was a pioneer in structuring policies and the role of the country code Top Level Domains, (ccTLDs). In August of 1995 Peter’s project was delegated the .VI country code domain name and he also served as chairman of the ccTLD Administrative Committee (AdCom)," Annalisa said.

Peter de Blanc

Annalisa recounted how her father's involvement with ICANN helped set her .green dream in motion. "I had attended ICANN's Wellington, New Zealand meeting in 2006 during a family reunion trip with .VI country code manager, Dotty Sparks deBlanc," Annalisa said. "At the meeting I met many of my father’s colleagues and listened to public discussions of new gTLDs from earlier rounds."

Lady Green in New Zealand
The photo of model Amanda Bransgrove shot by Michael 
Almeida
that inspired Annalisa Roger's vision for .green.
(thanks to Amanda & Michael for use of this stunning photo)

"Later, when I was back home in Northern California, I was helping a friend build a website for his photography business.  I sifted through his beautiful nature and fashion photos to choose what would “go online” and I came across a particular image that depicted an elegantly dressed woman sitting in the center of a lush green New Zealand fern tree. In this image, I saw a sophisticated civilization elevated on the throne of Nature and I literally screamed as .green entered my mind!  It was a sudden vision – and extraordinary experience for me and those in the room.  It totally sounds crazy, but that’s how it happened!" Annalisa declared.

Annalisa's vision quickly gained support from several quarters. "My father passed and left many friends within ICANN’s country code and greater Internet community," Annalisa noted. "This is a very collaborative group and so many have played a role in welcoming me at ICANN meetings and encouraging me to learn as much as I could about the business and the industry, which I have done for five years."

Even so, for Annalisa and the DotGreen Community to come as far as it has, it took one more ingredient to really put 

her plan into orbit. "Passion is key," Annalisa exclaimed. "When people are truly passionate about what they are doing, others recognize it and want to get involved. The enthusiasm behind DotGreen comes from the heart and a place of authenticity and care that so many people have about the future of our planet and its inhabitants. The DotGreen Project is inclusive and has benefited from a committed network of grassroots members, academic leaders, non-profit supporters, business sponsors, green angel investors, all passionate supporters."

"The universality of sustainability inspires unlikely cross sector partnerships and grows support for our vision of the .green namespace; the green community has enabled and propelled us to build momentum for five years including the development of the triple bottom line operational structure, The Non-profit Public Charity, the DotGreen Community, Inc., and more  that will insure .green is successful in its mission," Annalisa said, adding, "The history of the organization is telling of our current initiatives and green mindset. The energy and passion of a heartfelt volunteer effort remains in our actions, and DotGreen operations are largely influenced by our non-profit roots. We continue to interact with the green movement, and aspire to support organizations in that space and provide a platform to encourage green growth across all regions of the world."  

The DotGreen Community doesn't leave its mantra at ICANN's doorstep either. "We are aware of the footprint necessary to come to ICANN meetings and so we’ve used our presence in this ICANN gTLD program to bring green consciousness to ICANN delegates," Annalisa said. "Our People and Planet events take international delegates on educational green adventures and encourage participants to bring back ideas – tree planting, local eating, public transportation – to their own countries in order to better incorporate sustainability into their everyday lives.  Anyone can pursue their own path toward sustainability, and we want to encourage that in whatever way we can right now, and soon through the .green TLD."    

Despite all of the blood, sweat and tears that Annalisa and her organization have poured into their .green effort, who will end up running the TLD remains in question because three other applicants have also applied to administer .green. We asked Ms. Roger what differentiates DotGreen Community from the other applicants and how she thinks the question of who gets the TLD will ultimately be resolved. Annalisa asserted, "DotGreen is a grassroots organization and is the only one of four applicants for .green whose business model and policies are designed as a social enterprise 

Image from Bigstock

with a primary purpose and mission focused on the Green Movement. The application we’ve submitted for .green  includes a Public Charity Organization of the same name, The DotGreen Foundation, which already benefits the public, something not proposed by the other three applicants."  

Annalisa added, "DotGreen is the only .green initiative that founded the concept and shared it with the world since 2007 and has maintained a website and strong promotional presence ever since. We began as a truly green organization originating from outside the Internet industry, and we continue to operate in a way that will benefit people and planet."

"We are a single string applicant with the stated commitment to advancing the green movement, and utilizing .green to foster global sustainability.  Through a contract with Neustar, DotGreen has a robust technical application and consequently is the only applicant in the position to focus on supporting, educating, and promoting the Green Movement. The other three applications come from technical registry operators who are in the business to run the technical support of many other new TLDs for the Internet. Our intent and initiatives are transparent – perfect for the Internet – for people around the world to adopt .green, they need to know its real on all levels…that is the only way for Green to succeed in any industry."

Image from Bigstock

None the less, in cases of multiple applicants like we have with .green, ICANN plans to resolve contentions with an ICANN auction in which the highest bidder wins rights to the TLD. Ms. Roger doesn't think that is the best way to decide every case. "Maybe this strategy makes sense for some businesses and strings, as large portfolio applicants compete for land grabs in this new TLD space, but it would be a tremendous shame to allow this procedure to dictate the operator of the .green TLD, which has such great potential to serve the greater public vs. just a few," Annalisa said.

"For something as important as the green movement, representation in the online namespace must be authentic, custom and treated with consideration. We believe .green to be an important resource for people and planet and we have worked hard for the privilege to manage it. ICANN is a multi-stakeholder governing body and it does make decisions in 

the Public’s best Interest.  I believe the .green TLD is such a case that the ICANN community could rise to the occasion and through comments and participation, choose to eliminate or encourage the other three applicants to view .green as a social interest to the greater Internet world, and to remove their application and seek refunds.  After all, they are all large portfolio players with many irons in the fire, and very dependent on the ecosystem they work in and the success of the overall new gTLD program," Ms. Roger said. 

DotGreen is counting on the support for the DotGreen application in the form of comments at this critical time in the ICANN evaluation process. Comments are welcome before September 26, 2012 in order to be considered by evaluators.  The comment process is simple and is as follows:  

To submit a comment, please use the link below. You will need to 

  1. create an account, 

  2. choose DotGreen Community Inc., 

  3. choose “green” as the string, 

  4. under "Panel / Objection Ground", click on "Evaluation Panel" and "Registry Services" 

  5. then submit your comments.   

https://gtldcomment.icann.org/comments-feedback/applicationcomment/login

Ms. Roger said, "We welcome comments from people from all industries who are either engaged in sustainability efforts or want to join in the green movement. The positive feedback we’ve received from the community thus far has been an important basis for ICANN evaluators to take notice in what the Public’s best interest is."

Annalisa added, "An additional green action we encourage is for all to stay in touch with us through the DotGreen e-newsletter to find out when .green names will be selling. The success of .green will belong to those who use it, develop it, and rely on it for their green business and personal dedication to sustainability; non-profits, corporations, developers, and individuals. Anyone interested in contributing their ideas, expertise, and inspiration is invited to contact us at community@dotgreen.org."

For those who want a capsule summary of what the DotGreen Community effort is all about, here is a concise two-and-a-half-minute video that will also be of special interest:

In closing, Annalisa told us, "Given the energy and involvement of our team and the green community, it would be a shame to see another large portfolio entity take on the operation of .green as just another keyword Top-Level Domain. For us, this began as a green initiative; this is about forwarding the green movement and operating .green in the most effective way for our planet and all people.  Achieving success in the world, means healthier lifestyles for people and planet.  I know success for .green in the TLD marketplace will naturally follow if the public chooses to trust, adopt and rely on .green."

#####

(Article published August 10, 2012)


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