Dominance and Domains
by Rebecca Eisenberg

published in Wired 4.12, December, 1996, page 232
copyright Wired, 1996, 1997.

Men name their wives; parents name their children; conquerors name their territories; megacorporations name their subsidiaries. The power to name is the power to possess.

The Internet, it is said, provides a utopian alternative, where we all can stand on equal footing to name, define, and possess ourselves.

But on the Internet, self-possession can end at the @.

Hoping to be one of the lucky few netizens who own their own domain, many of us struggle in the Rule of Capture capitalism of the InterNIC economy, yearning to be the explorer who lands on the territory first.

Those who win the race are special enough to be eponymous; the rest tolerate bearing the coat of arms of someone else.

With the power of naming still reserved for the few, the Internet is less an egalitarian utopia and more a class-based hierarchy of possessed and dispossessed after all.

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Copyright 1996, 1997 Wired Magazine, reprinted by Rebecca L. Eisenberg. All rights belong to Wired Magazine, not to Rebecca L. Eisenberg.