The URL is Not the Territory: Trendy Domains As Geopolitical Capital

Country and territory domain codes are big business for their home nations in the emerging world of virtual geography.

On November 23rd, 1992, the most internet thing imaginable happened: the domain name was registered. Domain hacks like this have been around since pretty much the beginning of the web, and country code top-level domains (ccTLD's) are no exception –– digitally opening up a world of possibilities for would-be internet entrepreneurs in the market for novelty online identities.

As domain aficionados may know, Iceland's code .is, Montenegro's .me, and the United States of America's .us, are time-tested favorites for tricksy webmasters. The Christmas Island's .cx has its own sordid history in the online canon. And with A.I. being every Silicon Valley executive's favorite buzzword, it's only inevitable that the tropical island of Anguilla (.ai) has taken the spotlight.

As The New York Times reports, every time a "machine learning startup" or a Grimes superfan renews or registers an .ai address, the Anguilla Treasury collects a $50 kickback. The resulting profits have created a new kind of virtual tourism economy, with major economic benefits for the home countries that collect the registration fees associated with their coveted domains.

In today's age of late-capitalist, post-digital geography, who says you have to leave your browser to take a vacation?

Read more on The New York Times.