The Null Device

2010/10/6

The Libyan government's domain registry has seized a .ly domain, vb.ly, on the grounds of the content of the site, an adult-oriented link-shortener, not being compliant with Libyan Islamic/Sharia law. The moral of this story: don't go for the domains in countries with sketchy records of freedom of speech and/or rule of law, no matter how cool their suffix looks.

At time of writing, popular link shortener bit.ly has not posted Sharia-compliance policies. Given that Libya's pulling of vb.ly is virtually guaranteed to trigger a flood of provocative bit.ly links, from high-interest-rate bank accounts to whisky distilleries, pages on the awesomeness of bacon, pictures of women with uncovered faces and drawings of random entities said to be named Muhammad, things are going to get interesting.

Meanwhile, the world's porn enthusiasts are waiting in the hope that North Korea's next God-Emperor will see fit to start selling .nk domains, thus allowing http://wa.nk/, http://spa.nk/ and/or http://bo.nk/ to fill the gap left by vb.ly.

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The next big thing in today's socially atomised, time-stressed world could be friend rental services, allowing people who don't have the time or social connections to make friends the traditional way to pay people to hang out with them:

While it is free to become a friend and advertise your social services on the site, anyone wanting to rent a friend must pay $24.95 a month (about £17 in the UK) or $69.95 a year (£47) to become a member. Some friends offer their services for free, while others charge anything from $10 to $50 an hour, plus all expenses incurred on the friend "date".
"I guess some people who use the site are losers and maybe disconnected from a regular social life, but most people I've met seem normal. In a big city like New York it's not always easy to meet people," she says.
"If it feels like work to hang out with someone or like I'm their shrink then I'd definitely need to get well paid. But I haven't met anyone that boring yet."
Of course, whether the person whom you're buying dinner in return for company can be considered to be a friend is debatable, to say the least; perhaps "rent a companion" sounded too sleazily euphemistic?

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