The Digital Land Grab

My generation has been part of the greatest land grab in the history of the world. We own every habitable piece of this world. In a matter of a few decades, every fertile piece of land has been occupied by us. Newcomers, and there are millions of them every year, are forced to tend to the scraps we left them, or barter with us at ruinous cost.

Ok, enough dramatics.

I’m talking about the internet.

We own all the good domains, the best email addresses, the easiest usernames and so on. We got them at the sticker price. We’re not letting go of them.

Tried hunting for a domain? I’m sure you can get one with one of the newer also-ran TLDs. A .com or a .net? Dream on. Even the misspellings are gone!

Want an email address? Sure, you’ll get it, Jake. Here’s yours Have fun!

I wonder how we will dig ourselves out of this hole. It doesn’t look good.

In another 30 years or so, a lot of the first adopters of email or sites will likely be dead. In another 50, that’d be the case for Facebook, Github, Twitter and every other current giant.

Twitter has already started claiming back inactive accounts, with a view to re-releasing them in tranches. That’s a good thought, but it feels futile to me. There might be a million people called Vishy, but one has the .com, and one has the .net and the others just have to be without. That’s a design flaw. An inherently bad setup for the consumers.

I’m curious what the way out is. Not bothering with names, but having a searchable identity? Moving from a single level for names/addresses to a multi-level one that allows for some duplication across a level? Fractal-style sharding?

Should be fun finding out.

Image courtesy Jordon Conner at Unsplash