Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Value of a Country Code

is about you.

The government of The Republic of Montenegro thinks of a new way to make money. The nation interprets its ISO-assigned country code to be about YOU!

As we know, ISO used to assign a unique two-character country code abbreviation for every nation. For example, United States is us and China is cn. The ISO 3165 Maintenance Agency assigned the country code me to Montenegro shortly after it gained its independence in June 2006. Then IANA approved it to be a top level Web domain, which represents the nation of Montenegro.

The government of Montenegro, however, made an interesting decision. It explains that .ME is not just about Montenegro, it is actually about YOU. By setting up an ordinary .ME site, you are not describing your relationship to The Republic of Montenegro. By contrast, you are declaring a site about yourself. By this strategy, the government of Montenegro wants to gain the maximum benefit for Montenegro from this luckily-obtained country code.

Although Larry Dignan seems shrugging off this little trick, I think the decision is smart. The strategy helps not only "a little revenue generation" (Larry's words), but also the national security of Montenegro. The intensional ambiguous interpretations of .ME between the nation of Montenegro and ordinary YOU immediately bind every Web user who subscribes to the domain extension to the virtual nation of Montenegro on the Web. Considering that in the real world Montenegro is just a small nation with few people, this ambiguity strategically binds the national interest of Montenegro to the individual interest of many more people in the world. Through this implicit interest binding, Montenegro may gain more chances to speak louder in world politics. Hence it enhances the national security of Montenegro. This is indeed a great example of exploring the value of country code.

If Montenegro may utilize .ME, why can't United States utilize .US? If .ME is interpreted about individuals, .US can certainly be interpreted about groups. Or is United States too great to play this little trick?

Anyway, the following is the timeline for this .ME release.

       June 6 to June 26: Landrush. This is the first opportunity for the public at large to apply. Anyone who doesn’t have a trademark, but is interested in a specific .ME domain, can apply during this period. This is also when Sunrise challenges commence.

       June 26 to July 15: Quiet Period. During this time, the registry is closed to registrars. Names for which there was only one application during the Landrush Period are allocated. Landrush auctions will begin for names that received multiple applications.

       July 17: Open Registration. Domain names are registered on a first-come, first-served basis.


bloodcarter said...

Hi Yihong!

Thanks for sharing this. I enjoyed reading Jason's blog.

Yihong, I need to talk to you. Drop me a line when you have a minute so we can chat.

It's about my new project. You are one of the brightest and smartest Web researcher and evangelist I know. I'd like to you to be an advisor on my project.

Yihong Ding said...


thank you. I would be glad to help. I will IM you as soon as I got a break. (I might be quite busy in these two days. But I will try to figure out a time as soon as I can.)

Prateek said...

Hi Yihong,
Good post,but I can't see the relationship between getting a .me domain and the national security of Montenegro.I am not sure how the republic can use it to benefit its 'national security'???

Yihong Ding said...


Montenegro is a small country with few population. Moreover, due to historical reasons the nation has many severe security problems.

In the current world, one way to protect a nation is to associate the nation's interest to a large number of people's interest. Even if these people are not the residents of the nation, they will raise the voice to protect the interest of the nation in order to protect their own interest. By this mean, the security of the nation is enhanced. This is why I say that by intentionally mix the two interpretations of .ME, Montenegro smartly enlarge the number of population of itself. When more and more people join .ME, their personal interest on the Web becomes strategically bound to the interest of Montenegro.

Is this strategy also proper for United States? I think so though it may not be so significant for US than it is for Montenegro. The difference is that in the real world US is already a much stronger and larger nation than Montenegro. But our culture is in evolution. Virtual territory and population of a nation on the Web might become more and more crucial asset. With .US country code United States has a natural advantage to expand its base on the Web.