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  • Saturday, 5 November 2011

    Want an individual, non-commercial, ZA domain? Fokof.

    Forgive me for occasionally using my research blog as a blue-sky thinking space, whilst venting the frustrations of a South African wanting a better consumer experience; whether it's about television, buying music or the Apple third-world product experiences at first world prices (see iTunes Store, my exhibit "F"). Not only is writing these concerns a bit better than keeping such thoughts in my head to stress on, but I really do not have a better alternative; do forums exist in which customers can criticize companies for services they "should be" (not "are") delivering? Thought not! So, I feel justified in roping my research blog in as a stand-in soapbox...

    My current concern is justifying the choice of the .co.za domain name for one's research blog in the absence of better, local alternatives for South African consumers. I have recently assisted Associate Professor Laura Czerniewicz (@Czernie) with hosting and publishing her Wordpress blog; the site is hosted by the environmentally- friendly GetGreen (who were very helpful with facilitating a speedy domain purchase, hosting and linkage).

    The choices they could offer for a personal domain are shown on this screen grab:


    Like all local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) I have used (or use), this list's options offer no second and first level domain combination appropriate for an individual researcher stressing the local context of her research:

    .co.za = commercial, but local.
    .com = commercial, american or international.
    .net = commercial, international, generally used as an alternative to .com.
    .org = non-profit organization, international.
    .biz = commercial, international.
    .info = informative internet resources, international.
    .mobi = used for mobile devices, international.
    .cointernational, country code top level domain used by Columbia.
    .co.uk = commercial, United Kingdom businesses.
    .deinternational, country code top level domain used by the Federal Republic of Germany.
    .esinternational, country code top level domain used by Spain.
    .usinternational, country code top level domain used by the United States of America.
    .cainternational, country code top level domain used by Canada
    .com.auinternational, commercial domain used by Australia
    .net.auinternational, commercial domain used by Australia 
    .euinternational, country code top level domain used by the European Union
    .ininternational, country code top level domain used by India
    .asiainternational, domain sponsored by the DotAsia Organization 
    .me = country level domain used by Montenegro, with a few exceptions

    As you can see, Laura chose the "lesser of two weevils" by selecting a co.za address to show local context, whilst also unavoidably signifying her blog as a "co.mmercial" (as I have also done, but via Gridhost). 

    This is a systemic problem that is not the ISPs' fault; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.za shows that there are simply no domain addresses available for individuals to buy: for example, the academic second level domains (ac.za and school.za) are strictly for organizations (universities and schools, respectively), rather than individual staff...

    It is frustrating that South African customers do not have any second domain choice (i.e. like name.za {an extension of .name domain}) to reflect their non-commercial, local context. Frankly, in a Web2.0 context where it has become very easy to publish online, this seems like a bad hangover from the predominately corporate publishing in the World Wide Web preceeding it :( ...

    If you are also concerned about this omission, kindly add your comment below. This will help me to raise awareness of this problem online (and off). "Thank you", "Nkosi", "Baie Dankie".

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