May 31, 2012 at 8:08 PM ET
How will you know whether a site is funny in the future? It may be that it will carry an ".LOL" on the end of the address instead of ".com," so you know for sure that it is supposed to cause laughter. Google has applied for the .LOL top-level domain, or TLD, along with a batch of other ones it thinks may benefit the company or the Internet at large.
ICANN, the organization that regulates and sells top-level domain names, starting allowing applications for new top-level domains last year, and a few (such as the controversial .XXX) have already been created. But the window to apply just closed, and ICANN must now sort through some 1,900 applications. At $185,000 per application, that's more than $350 million in fees, which makes the process a lucrative one for them.
Google put in more than 50 of those applications, a source told Ad Age, which puts the search giant's expenditure north of $9 million. Among the company's applications, the predictable — .google and .youtube — the generic, such as .doc, — and the surprising: .LOL.
In a blog post at Google, computing and Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, acting as Google's Chief Internet Evangelist, describes .LOL as having "interesting and creative potential."
It's too early to tell whether the application will be handled speedily or accepted in the end, but one thing is for sure: in a few years, domains like .LOL, .MEME, .SCHOOL, and probably every other generic noun or action will be thick on the ground. The years of being able to guess a website by putting a .com at the end of a name may be coming to an end.
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for msnbc.com. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.