Having a memorable domain name is one of the recommended requirements of a decent website but you might have noticed that almost every domain name you can think of has already been taken. The problem is that there was a finite number of .com’s .co.uk’s etc. which is why ICANN decided to release a host of new “top level domain” names including .web .blog .london .finance .academy .shop .restaurant and about 1400 others. That means you can probably find a decent name that’s related to your business (DavesItalian.restaurant, bedford.academy, etc) because your no longer restricted to having a website or email address that ends in .com .net .co.uk or other country codes. You can register most of the new names at regular places like GoDaddy, 1and1, FastHosts, 123-reg, Heart Internet etc.
To be fair, there’s likely to be a few people who get confused at first, but that should pass pretty quickly. To help avoid confusion, ICANN – the organisation who control the top level domains – asked us for some creative consultancy, communicating the issues & explaining the impact that the new TLDs will have on developers and the public.
All we had to do was explain how domain names work which, if you know anything about domain names, you’ll already understand is all to do with Domain Name Servers and how you have to create a zone file to map the A Records, CNames and MX records so that the TCP/IP packets are correctly routed to and from various IP addresses and that’s why it’s essential that the TLDs match….. Got it? No? Hmmm, maybe there’s a better way to describe it.
We needed something a little more creative, and a much simpler explanation so we took inspiration from a (probably untrue) story we once heard about John Logie Baird, the inventor of television.
The story goes something like this: John Logie Baird was demonstrating his new invention, the television, when he was approached by an old lady who asked how he had managed to get all the little people inside the box. He explained, patiently and in detail, exactly how the television worked; he explained about the cathode ray tube and magnets which bend the electron beams to draw the images, carried in the VHF radio signal, onto the screen. The old lady nodded & listened intently to everything he said until he was satisfied that she had fully understood and he said “Now madam, I hope I have cleared any confusion for you”. “Oh yes, that was an excellent explanation,” she replied, leaning closer and whispering “But we both know you really do it with little people”.
So that’s what we did. Well, we created a robot called DeNiS (DNS) but it’s all basically anthropomorphism. DeNiS works inside the internet and it’s his job to deliver your packets through a series of pipes. We created a series of animations featuring DeNiS, along with other material, to help communicate simple problems that might occur, for example, code that verifies email addresses may not be designed to handle addresses with longer words after the dot or perhaps someone doesn’t get the TLD part of the address correct… in both cases poor DeNiS doesn’t know what to do with it and could send it the wrong way or simply lose it. A series of animations for online, international broadcast & presentations were created in English, and then translated into multiple languages for global distribution. The character featured online, in broadcast public service announcements, in handouts and printed literature.