Relief.Asia: Regionally-Based TLDs, Community and Relief Support

By Chuck Kisselburg

Last August I blogged about “.asia, A Social Networking Goldmine”. While the gist of the post centered around the new .asia TLD (its value with the advent of IDNs and how it can foster community) the underlying theme has been, and continues to be for me the value of what such regionally focused TLDs can bring to the “community”.

In previous posts also I discussed the value IDNs bring not only from the perspective of DotAsia, but from the perspective of India. To be specific, “What IDNs Mean to DotAsia: A Conversation with Edmon Chung of DotAsia” and “IDNs and India: A Conversation with Rajesh Aggarwal of NIXI”.

Again, the underlying theme being that of “Community”.

Recently we were able to witness the power of what such a regionally-based TLD, such as the DotAsia organization can accomplish when trying to support the community.

May 3, 2008 a cyclone hit Myanmar. At the time of this writing 78,000 are dead with 56,000 still missing.

May 12, 2008, an earthquake hit China’s Sichuan province. At the time of this writing 40,000 are dead with 32,000 still missing.

Shortly after the cyclone hit Myanmar and before the quake hit in China, Edmon Chung and his organization, DotAsia lead the charge of forming “Relief.Asia”. The Relief.Asia website, “… was deployed as a tool and platform to drive awareness and community contribution towards the rebuilding of nature-savaged regions such as Myanmar (also known as Burma) and Sichuan, through the application of Information Technology. Other organizations that jumped in to form a working, cohesive partnership include Internet Society Hong Kong (ISOC HK), The Professional Commons, Asia Pacific Networking Group (APNG), intERLab of Asian Institute of Technology, Myanmar Egress, APNIC, and Museum of World Religions, amongst others.”

Through the relationships developed among the various partners, Relief.Asia was able to secure one of the first planes into Myanmar with relief supplies.

As we have seen with Myanmar, politically speaking Myanmar and the US do not have the best of relationships, thus making it difficult for the US to provide relief supplies to Myanmar. Where governments fail in this regard it helps when organizations have relationships within governments, but are not part of a government agency themselves. With that said, DotAsia is not a governmental, or political organization. However, with the establishment of the .asia TLD they have relationships with members of a country’s respective government. I can’t say such relationships helped with Myanmar or Sichuan, but I do know progress towards relief efforts were made due to the relationships established with the various partners of Relief.Asia.

With the development and deployment of regionally-based TLDs on the horizon, I can only wonder if the world has a new avenue for marshalling resources through partnerships to aid in geographically-based relief efforts.

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