Had to laugh when I read in the IT section of today's Guardian that some people are getting excited about a new web domain, ".tel". Apparently the sole use will be a single web page showing the contact details of the person who owns the domain. Since most people do not have unique names, this immediately invalidates the whole point, and since there is no protection as to who can register names in the first place, it is merely an exercise in internet greed, encouraging both cyber-squatting and generating FUD* in people scared of somehow missing out.
But as always the joy is to be found in the quote of someone pushing this new domain. Like so many in IT, he clearly has no real idea what people actually do with it. Step forward and take a bow, one Andy Chantrill whose words of wisdom read thus:"Every minute, thousands of people are getting off planes, and what is the first thing that they do? Turn on the BlackBerry," he says. "Some of them will be thinking ahead to renting a car. For them, it's RentalCars.tel - the directory quickly connects them to an agent, saving time and hassle. Or maybe you're thinking of sending flowers? Florists.tel will let you quickly find your nearest florist."
Can't dispute his first line. Every minute people do indeed disembark from planes. And now we leave reality behind. Some may indeed resort to their Blackberry, or other mobile device. But the vast majority do not. They scramble for their luggage. They fight for trolleys. They queue up at Passport Control. They check their tickets and itineraries, and ensure that the foreign cash is still safe in their inside pockets.
But to Mr Chantrill the very next thing that our intrepid travellers do is to think about car rental. Ummm. Most travellers do not actually rent cars you know. If they did, the termini of airports would be crammed full of rental establishments. Instead there will be couple of sad booths, one empty, and one with a bored clerk smiling hopelessly at the passing crowds. But in any case, anyone with an ounce of sense rents a car before arrival. And if you have decided to take pot luck, then you do indeed go straight to a booth. Or you call a rental agency you have an account with. You don't stand about phoning some "agent" who may well be in a call centre the other side of the world and start making arrangements for a car that might be the other side of the airport with no way of getting there other than by courtesy coach that takes a hour to arrive.
No matter. Whilst waiting for that coach you can do the next thing that everyone does when they get off a plane. You order some flowers. Now what does Mr Chantrill suggest - you walk through the terminal and pick a nice bunch of daffs for your host? Nope. This is the insane world of the internet salesman remember. What you do is use your Blackberry to find the nearest florist. In an airport? If there is a florist on your way out you will surely see it. If not, what is Florists.tel going to do? The nearest florist to Heathrow, for example, is probably miles from the airport and, being in the back streets of Hayes, entirely in the wrong direction for the vast majority.
My final thought - I possess a rather unusual name and probably could have my own .tel domain. But if you know me you know how to contact me already. And if you don't, you can find my email on my website. So I shall not be getting a .tel domain name. No flowers, by request.
*FUD mlud? An ancient acronym denoting "Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt",propaganda tactics favoured by some in the IT biz to disparage competitors