The impact of an expanding Web universe on the NGO community writes Brian Cute from Public Interest Registry for Asia Sentinel.

For two and a half decades the Internet has connected and informed millions of people across the globe. It’s now easier than ever to join a community, spread the word about a cause or be part of something much bigger than yourself. There is no longer a need to rely exclusively on traditional media. The Net has fundamentally changed the way in which we communicate, and this has particular relevance in a region like ASEAN, with many countries separated even internally by island geography. But the Internet as we currently know it is changing. In addition to the web domain names we’re all familiar with – such as .org, .com and .net – hundreds of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are joining the online world. In fact, more than 1,000 new top-level domain names, the likes of which are expected to include .eco, .charity and .london for example, will go live over the next 12-18 months.

NGO meeting. Pic: Asia Sentinel.

The rollout of new gTLDs will enhance competition in the registration of domain names and create more choice online for consumers. While the domain names we are familiar with already give us some idea about the type of information we expect to see on a web page, this latest expansion has the potential to change how organizations communicate and connect with their audiences online. One particularly innovative idea comes from Public Interest Registry, the group I represent and the people who have successfully run .org for over a decade. We are seeking to address the special needs of the non-governmental organization, (NGO) community.

The Internet has already proven a powerful tool for NGOs, allowing them to share their causes and successes with the world and to connect with and encourage potential donors. However, the structure of the Internet has not allowed these organizations to differentiate themselves as effectively as they would like. NGOs can be hard to find online and often struggle to connect with one another.