But each application review period lasts five or six months. So if you were the unlucky duck who wanted to own, say, .duck and your digital arrow flew a few milliseconds more slowly than everyone else's, ICANN wouldn't have been able to tell you whether your nonrefundable $185,000 gamble paid off until some time in 2014.
Or perhaps as one of the 13 companies longing to own the .app domain, you hit the bull's-eye and landed in the first batch. But three of those other .app wannabes failed to release the bow in time and had to wait for the last round. You, too, would have to wait until 2014 to find out if you'd won.
ICANN ultimately abandoned that plan. That contest failed not merely because it was a completely asinine idea, but also because ICANN failed to account for things like network lag. Apparently, the folks at ICANN don't really understand how this whole Webbernets thing operates. Hey, they can't be experts on everything.
In July, ICANN announced it would handle all 1,930 applications simultaneously. That new plan lasted less than three months. Last week, it announced a raffle: For only $100, hopeful TLD owners can buy a ticket for a drawing; the order in which applications are considered would then be chosen randomly.
But as a California nonprofit corporation, ICANN isn't allowed to conduct lotteries. So it's hoping to rely on a loophole in the law by classifying the drawing as a "fundraiser." The kicker there is you can only buy these tickets in person -- so the many international firms vying for domains would have to send someone to California to buy the tickets or hire a proxy to do it for them. Of course, this still doesn't solve the problem of the 13 companies that want to own .app or the 11 who want .inc of being considered at different times.
You get what I'm saying? A roomful of monkeys could come up with a better solution to solve this mostly nonexistent problem.
I have a better idea: Use a real dartboard. Tack all the uncontested domain requests to the wall and hire an orangutan to fling darts at them. The 10 or 20 it comes closest to are the winners.
As for the contested domains? Just have these wannabe domain owners send their toughest guys into the woods together. Whoever walks out gets to own the TLD.
These plans are no more or less ridiculous than anything ICANN has proposed so far. But they'd be a damn site quicker and, in the long run, probably more fair.
Is ICANN totally whacked or what? Offer your clinical diagnoses below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article, "How to take down the Internet from the inside," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.