sex site domain name squat trendy

Geo-location apps to star at South by Southwest
geo-location applications

Sex.com goes on auction block

With the internet and new technology, one might be forgiven for concluding that location no longer matters -- no matter how completely wrong one would be. Itís still true, the more things change, the more they stay the same. We trim, blend, append two 2010 articles from (1) CBC, Mar 9, on domain names with commentary by the Ontario Green Partyís Frank de Jong (votefrankdejong) and (2) USA Today, Mar 12, on geo-locations by Jon Swartz.

by CBC, by Frank deJong, and by Jon Swartz

Sex.com, a popular domain name on the internet, will be auctioned off in New York this month after its owners defaulted on debt payments.

Boston-based Escom purchased the name in 2006 for a record $14 million US, but the name is not expected to fetch anywhere near that price when it goes on the auction block March 18.

Online bidding for the name starts at $1 million, according to the auction site David R. Maltz and Co. Inc., based in New York.

CBC business commentator Kevin O'Leary predicts the name will likely go for between $2 million and $4 million because of several issues that have helped to depress the price of domain names in general.

"In the last two years, domain name values have decreased dramatically so people who have squatted on domain names -- some people have thousands of them -- they're not such great investments," O'Leary said in an interview with CBC News.

"There's the maintenance costs, and the prices have continued to decline because there are so many new extensions available now. For example, '.TV' is an extension," he said.

Sex.com has been controversial nearly from the beginning of its existence, and not just because of content.

The site was registered by a Stanford University scholar Gary Kreman in 1994 and stolen by conman Stephen Cohen a year later, according to the 2007 book, Sex.com, by journalist Kieren McCarthy. His book was one of two written about the domain-name theft.

Kreman regained the name after a five-year court battle and later sold it to Escom. Cohen fled to Mexico after a $65-million judgment was levied against him.

According to McCarthy's book, sex.com was highly profitable in its first five years, receiving five million hits a day and generating revenue of $100 million a year.

O'Leary said anyone who buys the name will have to figure out how to negotiate laws in the U.S. that limit the distribution of hardcore pornography.

But he adds that there is still value in the name because the porn industry has taken a new turn. "If you look at the internet, the biggest cash-flow businesses with the highest margins right now are live sex sites. Most pornography is now available for free, up to two or three snippets from old films made in the '70s and '80s, but the new model is live sex that you pay for -- up to $2 a minute. These businesses are exploding," said O'Leary.

Frank de Jong: Beyond a fair profit to the owner, the unearned revenue of domain names should accrue to government, on a monthly or yearly basis, not to the domain holder. It is the community that owns words like "sex", for example, just like the community owns resources, land, and infrastructure.

The revenue stream created by collecting the speculative income in the economy would allow for the elimination of taxes on the productive economy. The more rent collected, the more vigorous an economy performs, since the money now "invested" in speculation will be forced instead to invest in the productive economy, creating jobs, wealth, and prosperity for all, not just windfall profits for the few.

JJS: Domain names are like a flags on internet terrain. While those sites matter much, still so do old-fashioned locations on real land.

What's likely to be the hottest tech trend at this weekend's trendy South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, the powwow that has become a launch pad for the coolest, hippest new technology? Location, location, location.

The conference is shaping up to be a coming-out party for Foursquare, an application that lets people flag where they are -- and for the entire category of fledgling geo-location services. A bumper crop of services, notably Gowalla, Brightkite, Loopt, and Where.com, are being embraced by smartphone owners to socialize and play games.

Venture capitalists are pouring in money. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has invested $9.5 million in Booyah, maker of a location-based social-gaming iPhone app.

"This is the year of location (at the show)," says Booyah CEO Keith Lee.

Last week, Twitter said it would supply developers with richer geo-location data. In January, review site Yelp added a check-in option to its iPhone app. About 5% of iPhone apps have location services. Facebook officials won't comment, but independent tech analysts expect it to soon add location-sharing features.

The service with the most buzz is the year-old Foursquare, with just 500,000 users, a fraction of Twitter's estimated 75 million users. Foursquare players earn points by visiting restaurants, bars, or museums in major cities. The payoffs range from special deals to Boy Scout-like badges and "mayorships" -- bragging rights for hanging out at certain locations.

"I learned about (Foursquare) through friends who went to (the show) last year," says Britt Miller, 24, of Philadelphia. She's "mayor" of nine places. "I've been hooked since."

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Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.

Also see:

Taking stock of the nation's airwaves
http://www.progress.org/2009/spectrum.htm

Are they criminals or unabashed pranksters?
http://www.progress.org/2009/fold606.htm

Could political protest win economic justice?
http://www.progress.org/2009/mckibben.htm

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