When will the next version of ICANN's new gTLD Draft Applicant Guidebook come out, and will it be the last? Whether you are pro, or against, new gTLDs, those two questions have to be foremost in your mind as we move ever closer to the last ICANN meeting of the year, in Cartagena this December.
This is when the final AG is supposed to be released. But will it happen like that?
On the one hand, ICANN Staff clearly think the DAG is almost done. Briefings given to the GNSO Council by ICANN's new gTLD boss Kurt Pritz point to limited changes between the current DAG (version 4) and the next one. Expect parts of the guidebook to be changed, à la DAGv2 to DAGv3, but not a fully revised version.
The new material will be published in November. A comment period will then be initiated leading up to the Cartagena meeting. But Staff will shy away from calling this the final guidebook because only the ICANN Board can do that.
Will they? From private conversations I've had, it's pretty clear that some Board members feel there is no more to say and the guidebook should now be finalised. I'm also hearing that ICANN Staff is gearing up for an official launch to the new gTLD program sooner rather than later. So if the Board does say "yes" in Cartagena, they will be ready.
To be clear, many are still opposed to new gTLDs. Good intentions often stand in the way of good ideas. "Why now?", "It's too soon!", "Work on it some more!" or "You haven't thought this out properly…" are phrases that have often been thrown ICANN's way by the perpetual naysayers who would rather things never changed and this program be shelved.
But their arguments may at last be loosing traction. Even though the next guidebook will not be called final when it is published by ICANN in the next few weeks, there is a good chance that it will become so soon after. It's about time! Time to stop being afraid of the future and instead, to make sure the Internet remains the most innovate, fast-moving medium in human history.