Net Culture

A Metafilter for London and the UK?

Reasons for Matt Haughey to assemble / or [Regional Metafilters?]

  1. British webloggers are the single largest group of English language webloggers outside the US.
  2. British webloggers are unable to participate in the large blocks of American-specific content that Metafilter currently provides (the election has brought that into focus).
  3. Without wanting to sound all corporate, Matt has developed an effective brand and an easy to use, functional site that does exactly what it says on the tin.
  4. There has been discussion about setting up a similar kind of site in the UK – but my feelings are that in this circumstance if we went with we would be helping an individual extend a useful site – a site that might in time develop worldwide – while simultaneously having functionality, look and feel and an ethos that we respect. And any possible improvements to the concept and function could be implemented simultaneously over all the sites. It’s like with – the community helps the project because we find it interesting and we know the person involved. Any one of us might come up with a great idea like Metafilter, and it would be nice to think that if that happened, our colleagues and friends from other weblogs would help us develop it to its full potential.

Are you with me?

Net Culture

In which ICANN consider new TLDs…

So ICANN are considering new top-level domains for the web – to which we can only breathe a sigh of relief and pray to god that the new ones will be both functional and worthy of getting excited over. People are straying too far into country domains to find the URL of their dreams because the current hierarchy is collapsing under the weight of demand.

The most worrying aspect of the new domains is intellectual property rights and “passing off”. If you have a name trademarked over several countries (and you don’t even have to be a particularly large company to do this), you can legitimately sue someone who is using your trademark in their domain name as long as they are encroaching on your subject of business. For a company like Yahoo! of course, there is very little that ISN’T their business already. Hence lots of people could be sued.

This is all sounds fine and dandy, but often it isn’t. Just because someone else doesn’t have the right to do what you are doing with the name doesn’t mean 1) that they can’t buy the domain name anyway or 2) that they won’t buy it and then decide to break the law (on the assumption that you just won’t take them to court). Which means that an increase in available domain names may very just mean an increase in the outlay of medium and large sized companies who wish to protect their brand.

,p>Clearly, the most sensible step is to clearly use the TLD to define strict areas of interest – strict in that they are clear and easily definable (like .arts or .xxx) rather than that they are enforced strictly. Enforcement should be irrelevant if the names are clear enough. The alternative – a proliferation of vague domain names such as .web (for which the apparent TLD analogue .net already exists) and .firm (TLD simply means that Yahoo! have to buy them. Large blocks of domain names will then disappear from public consumption. It is unlikely, for example, that Yahoo! could or would want to make a case for preserving its copyright on

Of course the corollary of this is that a decent block of these domains have to be produced at the same time. If this is an incremental process, then new domains will be bought incrementally by the companies concerned which is to be avoided. Some of the proposed TLDs are: .arts .kids .xxx and I think perhaps that additional ones might cover the types of website presented as well as the subject matter at hand – perhaps some form of searchengine or directory TLD might be a useful one, or .zine or even .log (.blog?)

Humour Net Culture Social Software

On a web-based intermediary for hit-men…

Katy and I have just had a great idea for a new money-making venture targetting a completely underexploited section of the e-marketplace – professional hitmen and the criminally violent. The idea is just like that in Strangers on a Train, where two people arrange to kill each other’s worst enemy. Since there is no connection between them and the person they kill, there can be no apparent motive (and the person who might have a motive can have a solid alibi). Hence, they are much less likely to get caught.

This site would act as a medium of exchange much like ebay, where people could fill in who they wanted dead, and where they were based. This would be stashed on a database until the next stage was complete. They would then be sent a random e-mail from another member, with the details of who they should be poisoning or stabbing or shooting or throttling.

Once confirmation of this kill was made (through some kind of link to the national death records), then the details that had previously been stashed on the database would be sent to another random member who had just signed up, who would be expected to follow through the process themselves. If there was no kill registered within a certain amount of time, then the name and address of the substitute murderer could be sent to the person whose kill it was originally. And since that person must have already killed someone to have got to that stage, this would be enough instigation for the substitute killer to do their job.

The business model is quite simple – targetted advertising from the gun lobby, rope merchants, concrete suppliers and the like would constitute the bulk of the revenue, although clearly paramilitary groups and mercenaries might like to recruit through the site (for a small fee of course). Therapists might also find this a lucrative market to target. And after an initial free period (possibly), high quality service (from someone who has killed a great number of people) could be costed, with the site acting as a broker and taking a commission.

Legally, of course (at least in the initial stages), the site would be completely safe from prosecution. I mean – it’s like Napster isn’t it!? We could put a warning up that read, “no one at our site condones the killing of people” or even “killing people is bad – if you are thinking of killing someone, please contact our psychotherapist at our special discretionary rate”. It’s not like we’d be killing people ourselves (and if we did, I think we could argue that that was separate from the activities of the company).

The only problem is the domain name: is quite nice, but then so is or… Opinions would be appreciated, as would venture capital…