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Username: Global Museum
Date/Time: Sat, October 14, 2000 at 7:13 PM GMT
Browser: Microsoft Internet Explorer V5.01 using Windows 98
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Subject: Professional reaction to these domain registrations


        The following are comments made by members of the international museum profession in Global Museum's FORUM section

Here are a  selection of responses to the issues raised by Global Museum, on the subject of the DOT.MUSEUM domain name and authentication process:

1. I don't like the use of "Museum" to cover Galleries as well, so I would opt for ".gallery". In fact, why stop at ".museum", why not ".zoo", ".virtual museum", ".sculpture garden"?
2.And there are so many museums....".classical archaeology", ". fossils", ".metamuseum"?
Honestly, lets not dumb down...I have always found it very easy to find what I am after on the internet.
3. I do not like the idea of ICOM, or any other body, working out who is or is not a museum. Lets let the public decide that eh? They are not as dumb as ICOM must think...
4.At present the simple classifications of .org, .net .gov .edu etc seem enough classification. Personally, I would have done without even these, if I had been designing the web. The true beauty of the web lies in its possibilities for breaking down expectations and categories.
5. Let the following be our guide on the web (and more...)
"It is clear, then, that the idea of a fixed method, or of a fixed theory of rationality, rests on too naive a view of man and his social surroundings. To those who look at the rich material provided by history, and who are not intent on impoverishing it in order to please their lower instincts, their craving for intellectual security in the form of clarity, precision, `objectivity', 'truth', it will become clear that there is only one principle that can be defended under all circumstances and in all stages of human development. It is the principle:  anything goes.  Paul Feyerabend, "Against Method"

Alan Sisley, Director, Orange Regional Gallery, PO Box 35, Orange, NSW, 2800

To Roger Smith

I have to say I agree with you. ICOM have got to be kidding if they think they can control information on the web. That's what it is there for. To stop organisations like ICOM from having a monopoly over information.

Bernadette Jones, gammaSPACE, ( an independent gallery not a museum )

Your concern about the use of "restricted" and "limited" seems to me to be largely baseless. From the way the release is worded, it sounds like the Museum Domain Management Assn. would just take over for the .MUSEUM domain what ICANN has been doing all along for the existing .COM, .EDU, .ORG, .GOV, .MIL and .NET domains (and any others I may have forgotten). First there is
the matter of appropriate use: Only non-profits can use the .org domain (or so I understand). Someone needs to check that a group is entitled to use the .org domain. Then there is the matter of exclusive use of a name within that domain: There can be only one "" on the net for instance. Someone has to decide whether that goes to the Henry Ford Museum, the Ford Foundation (I assume there is one) or some other organization with the name "Ford" in the title who may have nothing to do with Henry or his family or business.
My biggest concern is that while increasing the number of top domains does allow more groups to use "Ford" (to continue the example) as an address, it is also less obvious which domain name you want. If "" is currently in use by the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan (I'm not sure it is, but for the sake of the example let's assume this to be the case), will they move to "" and allow the Ford Foundation to have ""? Presumably the automobile company has "", but if they diversify into internet services, they could also be "". Or what if Joe Ford starts his own ISP and uses People looking for any of the other Ford sites could end up there by accident and not know that they needed to type .com or .org
instead, and Joe Ford would not be required to maintain links to the other "Ford" sites for such lost souls. This also increases the potential for things like "" which
was (still is?) a porn site that basically counted on the fact that some people would type ".com" instead of ".org" to visit the US Presidential website. The name could as easily have been used by someone who wanted to set up a "parody" site, or even by some opposition party who wanted to use it to post more malicious attacks on the sitting president. So, in the end, does this eliminate more confusion than it (potentially) creates? I'm not sure.

Larry Burke, Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania

Quoting Roger Smith:
There are a few points in Roger's commentary on the .museum press release that I suspect may reflect some confusion about the activity behind it.

> Interestingly enough ( as an ICOM member of long standing ), I received this information on October 4th and collectively we have only until the 27th to register any support or opposition!<

The entire timetable for the submission of proposals for the creation of new top-level domains (TLDs), as well the time allowed for public comment on them, was determined by ICANN (The
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). ICOM had no ability to influence this, whatsoever, and I can assure you was profoundly unhappy about the brevity of time rendering it all but impossible to anchor with its membership any response to the call.

ICANN decided to open the call for TLD proposals on July 16th. The documentation was made available to applicants on August 15th. The call closed on October 2nd. The period of public
review referred to in the press release is also ICANN's, not ICOM's.

> Words such as restricted , limited  suggest to me a desire to CONTROL rather than promote and this is at variance with the whole ethos of the Web. In my opinion the whole
initiative also smacks of a reactive rather than proactive approach to the opportunities on the web.<

Restricted domains have been a part of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS) since its very outset. Try to register in .int, .mil, or in any of over two-hundred country code domains in areas
in which you are not a domestic business entity. The recent dotcom real estate boom has utterly deflated much of the intended value of all this. The domain used by many museums, .org, for
example, once had a clearly defined meaning and, in fact, was reserved for entities in adherence with it.

ICANN wishes to re-establish this meaning and they, not ICOM, introduced the terminology which Roger finds so unsettling, with massive community support.

> On a personal level, I have always adopted the Net as an OPEN platform for information sharing and credibility of a site is built up over a period of time, regardless of the source of physical location of the site owner.<

Credibility is the keyword here. At present, anyone can purchase a domain name containing the letter string "museum". In itself, this means absolutely nothing. I believe that Roger, himself, has
used the term "dot-com startups" in reference to the less laudable initiatives utilizing the notion of "museum" for pure commercial gain.

The purpose of .museum is to delineate some area in domain name space where the six letters do have a clearly defined meaning. Whatever value someone might ascribe to that definition, it will at least be on public record. ICOM's contribution to this effort is providing the normative statement of what a museum is. This is contained in the ICOM By Laws. It is expected that this will require modification as experience is gained in its application to domain administration but ICOM's authority will be fundamental to any such action. (A case in point is a pending revision of the definition to encompass intangible cultural heritage and, in extension, virtual museums.)

> If you are NOT a member of ICOM does your museum wish to be vetted by its Museum Domain Management Association shell?<

Qualification for registration in .museum has no connection, whatsoever, with ICOM membership. The Museum Domain Management Association is a membership organization in its own right,
specifically to allow domain name owners to have a say in the way its policy develops and is maintained. You do not need to be an MDMA member to register a domain in .museum. You do not need to be a registrant in .museum to join the MDMA (although the right to vote requires such status).

> Personally, I think that if you are a museum (actual or virtual), then you should have the opportunity to use the DOT MUSEUM top level domain? What do you think?<

Given that this is the precise purpose of the domain, I do not understand the protest. The MDMA will be announcing its Web site during the next few days and I will forward details as soon as
they are available. The full text of the .museum proposal will be found there and I hope that MUSEUM-L members will find it worth their active attention and commentary.

Cary Karp ICOM

Was just .mus considered for brevity's sake or would that be confused with something else?

David Lintz

Am I missing the point or is ICOM actually vetting the site so that only public galleries (virtually the same as ICOM definition) should be included on it? If so, this is a sensible way to go.
The Net is huge and there are an overwhelming number of sites now which include amateur, professional, commercial and public galleries - all spread rather thin. It's hard to know who to connect with, and updating information to these sites is time-consuming. I imagine ICOM's proposal is intended to provide a focus site for the public sector ("museums" in the European sense of the word - including art museums- rather than for-profit galleries and musums).
In Australia the AMOL site provides a similar function and I would have thought that rather than limit access, it improves access to the very galleries and museums that require it most - the public, non-commercial sector. At Horsham we have already had several overseas visitors who have found their way us through the AMOL site.

Merle Hathaway, Director, Horsham Regional Art Gallery

I would concur with Alan Sisley, especially since the domain name is becoming less and less the starting point for a search of sites and domain squatters seem to be tying up all sorts of logical names or redirecting ordinary sounding domains to porn sites.
I suspect the url will become hidden in the future as other means for more systematic and useful location of information become established.

Gary Vines,  Melbourne's Living Museum of the West

A museum is defined by its content, rather than its name. On the net itís the the end it is content that counts. I personally have used a Tongan top level domain for the last two years because, unlike the Australian Government, the Tongans adopted an open, enterprise based attitude to their domain name registration, requiring only that the content was not offensive to their Christian values. At least I know that you won't find a .to gambling or pornography site. I could not say the same about .com
Some people think .to is a bit banana republic but when you look at Australia's current exchange rate I could say the same about
Suffice to say that I will not be rushing out to purchase a .museum, especially if they take the old world industrial political-economic approach of restriction and control. It just won't work in the Information Age; we don't have the time for it.

Phillip Charlier

I'm with you, Merle. It seems to me that this proposal would protect the domain name "museum" against all sorts of potential misusers of it, which must be in the interests of ICOM members, and all public museums (including public art galleries)
Roger, have we missed something? I don't think this is about Big Brother "vetting" as you suggest, or about ICOM membership, but about clarifying whether a ".museum" is a public museum in the ICOM sense, or not. Surely that's in our interests, and such clarity would be in the "OPEN" interests of free users of the net, too.
Stuart Park , Chair ICOM New Zealand

Dear Roger
I was at a museums conference in Stockholm recently where the IT person from ICOM tabled this matter. The concern was that if dot museum is not officially claimed by ICOM, it  will be used by any Tom Dick or Harry, not necessarily a museum - which would be damaging to legit. museums at large.

Kenson Kwok   Asian Civilisations Museum  Singapore


On Tue, 10 Oct 2000, Maggie Harrer wrote:
> One more questions, is it possible, and/or perhaps desireable, to simply copy the web site onto the new .museum domain and thereby have it the same in both places?? It seems that web sites are most successful when you have as many avenues as possible to connect to it. If this seems too simplistic, please educate me, I'm not an expert on web sites obviously.<

You don't need to do anything as complicated as this. Very many web sites have several (or even many) different addresses, all diverting into the "home" site totally automatically. (Big sites like CNN use dozens of web addresses, all of which end up in the same place.) It's just like using
both Post Box number and a traditional building, street, and city postal address side by side for "snail mail".

I don't expect that any museum would actually give up an existing very well known address (and those that are part of e.g. a government organisation might well be required to retain their official web and e-mail address as part of that organisation's overall corporate identity). However, they could (and in my view should) want to have a second identity as a "proxy" of this along the lines of "".

Patrick Boylan

Roger Smith
Director - Global Museum

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