Top-level domains expanding on February 4 - Good luck getting a domain like .coffee or .ninja

01/22/2014 - 00:00

The web is about to have its big bang. About 1,000 new generic top-level domain names, or gTLDs (the last bit of an internet address, such as the com in will come into existence this year. On Feb. 4, anybody will be able to create and start running a website on the first of the new domains. The number of alphabets in which you can create a web address will go from one—Latin—to at least a dozen including Chinese and Arabic. Hundreds of millions of dollars will be made.And our conception of the web will change entirely.

You may not have heard about this. That’s unsurprising. The infrastructure of the internet is rarely a sexy subject, except when it breaks spectacularly. New standards are constantly being adopted in the background. Who can keep track?

The coming deluge of new domains is different. It is highly visible, and will affect everybody who uses the web. What’s less certain is whether it is strictly necessary. Proponents argue that it will benefit people and businesses (small ones especially) by giving them more addresses to choose from. Critics call it a massive land grab by both entrepreneurs and some of the world’s most powerful internet companies.