A friend's baby daughter's first word was "email." She and her husband used it endless times daily, what with being remote workers for a big software company. That was in 2001.
Twenty years later, communication media have expanded to include audio, video, apps, and good old email, but no-one blinks an eye about what is the medium. It's just there, doing its job. Whenever you pick up the phone, tablet or laptop using it as a beacon of information, you don't spend time analyzing the carrier. You don't talk to the machine, you talk through it.
At the turn of the millennium, the Web was the Internet, with a capital "i" and typing "www" before every web site was a mandatory process, like crossing yourself when entering a church.
Domain names were mystical destinations meant to be bookmarked, treasured, shared on printed guides even. I know—I compiled a "Golden Guide" for a publication way back in 1995.
The world changed thanks to the commercialization of the internet and I've grown to embrace its new low casing which by no means lessens its importance. Just like e-mail lost its dash; it's the natural selection of technology jargon at work.
The evolution of the domain name space incorporated new top level domains, shyly at first. It was almost a sacrilegious act to think about creating a name space that expanded beyond .com, .net, and .org. Alright, add .edu to the mix for those that really needed a free email address in the 90s.
The use of domain names expanded globally in the 2000s, along with their identification as digital assets of value. Domain investing became an occupation and a profession, losing its hobbyist overtones. Monetization of domain traffic created a secondary producer of wealth for several years, under the vigil eye of almighty Google. Fortunes were created from other people's clicks, a digital flow of knocks on your front door whether you had something to sell or not.
Most importantly, businesses recognized the value of domain names as brand identifiers, sidekicks to the products and the corporate names. Marketing budgets expanded to include the best domain money could buy—because the dictionary has been exhausted. The domain aftermarket is a live bazaar comprising of secondary market platforms, where millions of domains are up for adoption. The endless thirst for quality domains is quenched by endless recommendations of domains for sale that arrive with every lookup of domain availability.
And now, more than a thousand usable extensions can supplement that thirst, providing alternate TLDs that appear to address the issue of keyword depletion. From an investor's standpoint, these domains can be attractive assets for trade, but the primary use of new TLDs is for end-users, just like in the early days of the internet.
Can you imagine a world without domain names?
Turning the clock back to the 80's I recall extensive localized computer use, and the physical aspect of mailing diskettes.
Alternatively, there were BBSes that used phone numbers and one could argue that all you need is a phone number to "exist" as a contactable node. But tying up a phone line for hours just to connect and be reached at meant two things: big phone bills and angry relatives.
These days it's all done through Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud and many more file sharing destinations. One doesn't think about how their files are compressed or what protocol or encryption is use—they just get there.
Domain names make such tasks easier, by replacing phone numbers and IP addresses with meaningful words. That's why it's important for these domain names to be easy to write, spell, and recall, and brands rely on such domain names so that they can be found easily.
Imagining a world without domain names is impossible.
Whether one prefers the original trinity of TLDs, or the expanded universe of top level domains, the Big Bang is irreversible. Ride its cosmic wave by registering your next domain, or find it among millions available at the Uniregistry Market.