Vol. 3, Issue 14, June 7, 2005
ICANN Approves .hill Domain for Hillbillies
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the oversight group for the World Wide Web, has begun negotiations that could lead to the establishment of a separate domain for hillbilly sites. ICANN said it has begun to have "commercial and technical negotiations" with West Virginia internet registry Grandma's Guns-N-Jerky Inc. (GGNJ) about establishing a top-level domain, or TLD, that would bear the suffix .hill.
"The inter-ma-net is a blazin' fast world," said "Appalachian" Andy McCoy, executive vice president of Telecommunications and Spittin' at GGNJ. "And that's fine for some, I guess. But we'uns want somethin' a little more down-to-earth, if you know what I mean. And this new do-main will be just the ticket."
GGNJ is the primary phone, cable, and internet provider for much of West Virginia, Virginia, and parts of North Carolina. The corporation, which began as a general store in Hinton, WV back in 1922, won the regional phone company in a card game in 1992. It began looking into establishing its own domain when its operators experienced difficulty spelling "dot com" in the late 1990s. It is the only internet provider in the United States currently using manual switchboards.
"Now our operators are pretty savvy gals," said McCoy, "but there's a lot of sites out there to spell. And truth to tell, most of our customer's ain't interested in findin' a "googul," or a "yahoo." Hell, we ain't even sure what'n those things is, an' Edna Mae has a terrible time at the switchboard when folks ask for 'em. So havin' an easy way for local sites to set up would be right neighborly."
GGNJ plans to offer special services to Appalachian sites using .hill addresses, including special network connections to allow downloading of distilled spirits.
"Round here, "broadband" usually means thicker string between the cans," admitted McCoy. "So we're really thinkin' that we need a domain where sites can set up proper-like for reg'lar folk, you know, a little slower and without all that fancy citified Aitch-Tee-Emelle."
Not everyone applauds the move, however, especially local government officials who have been trying to spur economic development and shed the rustic image of the Appalachians for years.
"The West Virginia High Technology Consortium has been working hard to grow one of the premier technology parks on the East Coast," said governor Joe Manchin despairingly. "For God's sake, the last thing we need is a home-grown hillbilly domain. We might as well take off our shoes and start pickin' the banjo - we'd have just as good a chance of landing an investment from Intel."
If negotiations proceed as scheduled between ICANN and GGNJ, the .hill suffix should be active by early 2006. Some sites are already being planned for the launch, and GGNJ reports that its clients will be ready for them.
"There's a lotta folk real excited 'bout usin' the .hill sites to find themselves a date," said McCoy with a wink. "You know, like them family finder sites, what lists all yer long-lost cousins and such. Mighty handy, that'd be. Mighty handy."