There’s a new addition to the roster of domain name suffixes coming: .tel And it’s unique among extensions in at least a couple of ways. First, its distribution is in wholly private and commercial hands — you’ll pay to play — and second, it won’t locate a place on the web. Evidently, dot tel will lead to a collection of your resources located right on the domain name server, and what it serves up will depend on how you come to it and where you come from. The idea is to make the DNS emit information that is responsive to your particular context; and the typical example is the delivery of business contact information: if you enter the dot tel address from a mobile phone, you’ll get a local phone number; from a brower, a local address, etc. The beauty is that all the user needs to recall is one simple word or phrase and it will always deliver up accurate contact information.
The story in the Guardian sums up the dot tel difference by pointing out that the URL doesn’t take you to the web but rather to the internet.
Domain names go on sale in two waves: from now until February 2 is the “sunrise” period, where trademark owners can apply to obtain their mark as a domain; thereafter is the so-called “landrush” period, where it’s first come, first served.
In a post earlier this week, I asked “What’s New” in IT apps and got a lot of really thoughtful replies. But this development, which I only learned about recently, has within it the seeds of the next really important development in IT: rather than working through the medium of websites, requests on the internet will return context-sensitive data in forms that are perfectly responsive to the requesting medium. It’s not exactly the death of the web, but its repositioning to a place less central in the scheme of things — at least for run-of-the-mill data. Its as if we’re at the stage where we’re learning that to perform certain important acts the signal doesn’t have to go all the way to the brain and back but can operate by way of the much faster reflexes that only touch the spinal cord.
At any rate, if I ran a big law firm with offices in Here, There and Everywhere, I’d be snapping up one of these dot tel domains right pronto and having my IT folks figure it all out to make sure we were somewhere near the front of this thing.