Posted by: Suzanne Woolley on November 18, 2011 at 2:00 PM
While Occupy[fill-in-the-blank]ers are being rousted from camps in the U.S. and abroad, there’s a digital land grab underway. Godaddy.com has sold 5,200 domain names with “occupy” in them from September to early November, compared with 80 from January through August.
There are the occupy domain names you’d expect: Occupywallstreet, of course, which the movement bought for $8,000 from a Sarasota, Fla., man who makes a business out of selling domain names. Then there’s OccupyDenver, Boston, Austin, Portland, Chicago, and so on. There’s also Occupyhollywood, thehamptons (“Where the 1% vacation”), and beverlyhills (that last one is owned by a documentarian whose web site says he is doing a movie on smut). And there are the political hotspots — Occupythefed, KStreet, congress, themall, thecapitol, thehill, thesenate, and Occupythewhitehouse (that’s a Ron Paul site).
There are presidential and presidential-hopefuls to be occupied: Occupyobama (owned by “Valleywag” tech gossip blogger Ryan Tate), Occupyhermancain, Occupyrickperry … and Occupygingrich.info. Huntsman is up for grabs. (Full disclosure: There’s also Occupybloomberg, owned by a New Yorker who did not return our e-mails.)
More surprising is the ambition of the domain names. There’s Occupythenation and Occupythecountry. And Occupytheair, thesea, thejungle, theocean, theglobe, theworld. It expands further, into occupyourplanet, occupytheuniverse, occupyheaven, and occupyhell. Occupythelulz is a site telling us that “Only 518 people have been to space. We are the 99.999999926%. OCCUPY SPACE.”
The true entertainment value comes via the domain names that aren’t places. There’s Occupythis, Occupythat, Occupythem, Occupyyou and Occupyme. There’s Occupymymind (which was blocked due to Bloomberg’s security policy, so who knows what it is), Occupymypants (owned by a man with the first name of Vinnie), Occupymyface, and Occupymyass. There are also more scatological ones.
Even holidays are taken. OccupyThanksgiving is a site about saving turkeys. According to the site, it “has the mission of celebrating all we are thankful for without killing scores of these fascinating creatures. With your help, the message will spread. Provide a voice for those who gobble.” OccupyChristmas is a message (appropriately, text-only) about having a non-materialistic Christmas. Its rallying cry: “Scrooge the 1% for Christmas while helping real working people!” It advocates avoiding purchases that benefit multi-national corporations, buying local, moving assets to local banks and credit unions, and so on. OccupyHanukkah is also taken. (Still free: Occupyboxingday and Occupykwanzaa.com.)
Perhaps the most fitting of all the domain names is this one: Occupyeverything. (Granted, OccupyNothing is taken as well.) Except that Occupyeverything was bought back in 2009, following the emergence of the slogan “occupy everything” during the occupations at the University of California campuses to protest austerity measures enacted by the UC Regents, says its owner. Also good: Occupywhatever and OccupytheOccupiers.
Are any of these domains actually being used? Some are up and running and represent what you’d think. Occupydenver, occupyboston, occupyatlanta, for example. Occupythecourts describes itself as “a people-powered movement to bring court cases against corporate power and government abuse.” Occupytheboardroom is a site that notes “Life gets awfully lonely for those at the top. What can we do to let them know someone’s thinking of them? Maybe they need some new friends! We’ve thought of two ways we can help them with that.” It offers the names of bankers and board members at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, and suggests perusing the list to find either “a pen pal or a BFF.”
Some of the occupy sites have a definite commercial bent, albeit with a liberal twist. Occupynyse is a site by “Odetty,” self-described as “an Okie from Muskogee.” He or she participated in ACT UP-LA in the 1980’s and has created an online shop, “Aladdin’s Lamp Gifts,” “which produces upfront, in your face, and sometimes humorous … political statements on items ranging from sweatshirts and t-shirts to stickers, skins, banners, water bottles and coffee mugs.”
Occupythejungle takes you to www.armtheanimals.com - a tee-shirt operation that says its mission is to “Create killer T-shirts that make a statement and generate funds for small, struggling animal rescues.” Occupythis features a picture of angry protestors and says it donates 100 percent of its profit to Occupy encampments nationwide whenever anyone buys an Occupy HipHop, NinetyNine or other $22 to $28 T-shirt.
Other capitalists bought domains to draw traffic to existing, unrelated businesses.
Occupybethesda was bought “as kind of a joke,” according to its owner, Jordan Fainberg. He’s a Realtor doing a lot of business in Bethesda, Maryland, and says most of his business comes from the web. He’s not sure what he’ll do with the site but is “getting a bunch of hits.” Type in Occupyprison and it takes you to scripophily.com. Yes, that is a site about old stock certificates. Stocks. Prison. Hmm.