One size fits all

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The World Wide Web just got the cyber equivalent of a pair of spandex shorts.

The independent board that oversees the Internet's addressing system, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, known as ICANN, decided last week to add seven new domain names.

The reason for the new names is obvious - the infinite world of cyberspace was proving to be not so infinite. It is getting congested. The new names will allow computer servers and routers to deliver terabytes (trillions) of data more efficiently. Otherwise, our modems would start to look like a Boston street at 5 p.m. weekdays.

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The new names were selected from applications submitted by businesses and other groups seeking to manage the new suffixes.

ICANN was created in 1998 by the US Commerce Department to open up the monopoly on registering domain names. ICANN makes sure that each domain name is unique, guaranteeing that each registration company hands out only one address per name.

The new names will coexist with the all pervasive suffix .com (some 20 million addresses use it) as well as .org, .net, and .edu.

The board selected .info and .biz as alter-egos to .com for business use. Also added were .name for personal Web sites (Bencivenga.name sounds sufficiently cyber to me). Museums got their own .museum, so did professionals, .pro, and the airline industry (Was it due to overbooked flights, crowded seating, increases in delayed and cancelled flights and unused frequent flier miles?) also got a domain, .aero. If I see a pilot with a Palm pilot in the cockpit, I'll start taking the train. The final selection of new names was .coop for business cooperatives.

The names will start appearing on your Internet browser spring 2001 at the earliest.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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