|Image my own|
I could tell you the start of a web address, and you will finish my sentence with “.com”. I attended the Social Media Summer event at Golley Slater Cardiff this week, where we were informed about the latest developments for the .wales domain name.
The internet is currently dominated by a majority of .com, .co.uk, .gov and .net. However, top level domain names (TLD) are set to change drastically. Mainstream brands and corporations are welcoming the idea, with domain extensions such as .apple, .citibank, and .gucci being examples of some of the many businesses eager to adopt the development. This will allow increased control and an increase in market reach. Meaning it’s going to be harder for you to buy a replica of this season’s must have handbag. Shed a tear into your lipstick ruined tissues, your knockoffs will soon be shunned from the online community and .com might as well translate into “out of a car boot”, or at least that’s the hope for the designer brands.
Search engines such as Google and Bing are looking to adapt the change by altering their search algorithms, in which the .com will become less valuable than the new TLD and will appear lower in search results. For high end designer brands, this is a valuable tool for brand protection, and allows them to own their own space in which all products are authentic and consumers are able to identify the websites which sell reproduced, counterfeit products.
There could be hostility towards the change, with the suspicion that the current generation will not adopt the change and that .com and .co.uk maintains a higher level of credibility with consumers and audiences. However, the geographical domain names such as .wales and .cymru are likely to be heavily adopted by the public sector, and when purchasing the domain names it will be an option for the registrant to purchase a bundle which includes the .cymru domain. Large business and brands are also likely to adopt the change in order to protect their brands. For those who possess a high level of Welsh patriotism and pride, this is a welcome change, and separates Wales into its own sphere on the internet. Scotland are also adopting the change with a .scot domain name. However, Wales is the only country which appears fully in the domain name. There is also scepticism that the move will only prove popular in nationalist areas such as North and Mid Wales, where patriotism is encouraged and the Welsh language is far more prominent than in other parts of the country.
It could be argued that this could direct a shift in thinking in the younger citizens who may show less interest in their Welsh nationality, especially with less of the population having any ability to speak the Welsh language and this will encourage the communal thought of Wales during everyday online behaviours. In the 2011 census it was concluded that 2.2 million of Welsh residents (73%) had little or no skills of the welsh language. However, the Welsh language is the only de jure language in any region of United Kingdom. This means it is entitled to status as it’s own language (as opposed to something like 2 year year toddler speech, which I am now fluent in, just so you’re aware).
Many Welsh residents embrace the idea of it’s separation from any other part of the UK, and this is an opportunity to celebrate Welsh brands, culture, products and people. A more human perspective of looking at the change is approaching the idea to see how it will benefit the Welsh people, as it will be a congregation of Welsh consumers and communities. With an economy which includes TV production for the BBC, and a growth in Welsh exports, this is the next step forward in promoting Wales as a valuable country on a multi national scale and boosting the Welsh economy. Welsh exports saw a £53 million increase in exports to EU countries in Q1 of 2012, and a £575 million (8%) increase in exports to non EU countries within the same quarter. With a grand total of a £628 million increase, the move looks set to encourage another increase in Welsh exports and provide a potentially global expansion for business and Welsh brands.
Nominet – the online registrar behind the move, received backing and encouragement from The Welsh Assembly Government, however, any profit made goes directly into The Nominet Trust. The trust invests in social and digital improvements and attempts to bring solutions to social challenges. Welsh consumers and businesses have the comfort that their money goes back to them in some way, and not to an authority where they may not necessarily see where their money goes – Seriously now, where do my parking fines go? This is a legitimate question – Cardiff Council, hit me up in my inbox.
The change looks set to take place in March 2014.
Wales gave us Welsh rarebit, my favourite imaginary grandfather Tom Jones, and Derek the Weatherman. Now it’s giving us our own piece of the internet. It’s almost better than the word cwtch – which leaves us with this – .Cymru am byth.